Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo
Harvard Medical School
Medical Sciences
Brain Rewards, Plasticity, and Consumption: The Neurobiology of Sustainable Behavior

Ann-Christine Duhaime is the Nicholas T. Zervas Professor of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School. Her focus on modification of brain function and brain plasticity as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital has nurtured a parallel interest in how advances in behavioral neuroscience might intersect with the “big picture” issues of resource utilization and climate change.

Duhaime is exploring how inherent brain drive and reward systems may influence behaviors affecting the environment. Did the human brain evolve adaptively to crave more—stuff, stimulation—making it particularly hard for us to do with less? Children crave novelty, and since the brain is so plastic early in life, could high-density stimulation from electronic media affect the set point of the immature brain for novel stimulation? Duhaime hopes to link insights from neuroscience, social science, economics, environmental science, and public health to begin to learn whether considering these neurobiologic factors might help improve the effectiveness of behavioral approaches to mitigating excessive consumption.

Duhaime’s practice includes general pediatric neurosurgery with a subspecialty focus on epilepsy and functional and behavioral disorders. She directs a research program funded by the National Institutes of Health that studies brain trauma, repair, and plasticity and has held a number of national professional organizational roles in which she has advocated for research and for physician involvement in issues affecting the future of children. She earned her doctor of medicine degree at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was also a resident in neurosurgery and a fellow in pediatric neurosurgery. 

2015–2016 Radcliffe Institute Fellows

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.
Photo by Tony Rinaldo