Secret lives, myth, fake news and more at Hay

Ella Rhodes has a look at the programme for the Hay Festival, which runs from Thursday 23 May to Sunday 2 June.

This year’s Hay Festival is hosting scores of events featuring psychologists, neuroscientists, and topics which will interest both.  

On Friday 24 May Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, researcher and author of Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brainand Professor Daniel Davis, author of The Beautiful Cure: Harnessing Your Body’s Natural Defences, will speak to neuroscientist Dr Hannah Critchlow about their work. Later that evening Davis will speak to sleep expert and neurologist Dr Guy Leschziner about what goes on in the brain at night, and the myriad effects of sleep disorders. 

The following day presenter of Radio 4’s All in the Mind, Claudia Hammond, will speak to Lucy Cooke, author of The Truth about Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife, and Mark Miodownik, who wrote Liquid: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives.

On the same day Professor of Behavioural Science and happiness expert Paul Dolan will speak about the myth of seeking a perfect life. That evening the Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab, Dr Sander van der Linden will discuss the psychological processes which lie behind the spread of misinformation and vaccinating against fake news. 

On Sunday 26 May Professor Margaret Snowling will talk about the prevalence of dyslexia in different languages and imaging studies which hope to reveal any structural or functional differences in the brains of people with dyslexia. The following day journalist Linda Geddes, author of Chasing the Sun: The New Science of Sunlight and How it Shapes Our Bodies and Minds, will speak about the significance of sunlight in historical and biological terms. 

Neuroscientist Dr Hannah Critchlow will speak about free will and determinism, and whether our lives are far more predictable than we think thanks to our unconscious minds on Monday 27 May. That evening primatologist and ethologist Professor Frans de Waal will discuss animal emotions, including facial expressions, animal sentience and consciousness. 

On Tuesday 28 May cross-bench peer Rosie Boycott, Hannah Critchlow, Director of the Science Media Centre Fiona Fox, journalist Bronwen Maddox and Editor of Nature Magdalena Skipper will discuss how to separate science fact from fiction in our fake news era. 

The following day Kate Harding and Billie Charity, who lost a husband and brother to suicide respectively, and Sarah Stone, Director of Samaritans in Wales, will join Benna Waites, Joint Head of Psychology for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, to speak about bereavement after suicide. On Thursday 30 May Waites will be speaking to mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin and poet and musician Dizraeli on the topic of men, mental health and suicide. 

The following evening Professor Steven Pinker will deliver the Raymond Williams Lecture will speak about our negative perception of modernity and how we may be wrong. 

Michael Pollan, author of How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics will speak to BBC Europe Editor Katya Adler on Saturday 1 June about the history and future of psychedelic drugs. The same day Matt Haig, author of Notes on a Nervous Planet, will speak about how to stay sane in a world full of stress and anxiety. 

The following day Behavioural Geneticist Professor Robert Plomin, also author of Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are, will speak to Rosie Boycott about the role of DNA in shaping us. The festival will also feature appearances and talks from Arundhati Roy, Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson, Caroline Criado Perez, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig, Jimmy Carr, Bill Bailey, Sara Pascoe, Nish Kumar, Amitav Ghosh, Leila Slimani, Paris Lees, Joanna Lumley, Angela Gallop, David Lammy, Carole Cadwalladr, and Moby. 

For the full programme see hayfestival.com.

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