• Dr Jack’s Comedy Debut on BBC2

    I’ve long been of the opinion that there is no reason why you can’t mix neuroscience and comedy. And this month I finally managed to prove it by appearing on the very first episode of a brand new, big budget, primetime BBC2 comedy show called the RANGANATION (to watch the episode, if you live in the UK, just click the link before 20th June 2019 when the episode will be taken down from the BBC iPlayer; my bit is: 31:30-37:30). The show, presented by the extremely talented and successful comedian Romesh Ranganathan airs on Sundays at 9pm; a slot in the schedule that gets great viewing figures. The show involves discussing current affairs with a pair of special guests and then posing related questions to a panel of 25 men and women representing different places across length and breadth of the UK from all sorts of different backgrounds. My job was to come on half way through to supplement the light-hearted banter on the topic of consumer technology with the latest science regarding what intensive use of smartphones might be doing to the human brain.

    Romesh Ranganathan is a bit of a legend

    It was great to go to Elstree Studios – where so much great TV has been filmed over many decades – and see Romesh work. His ability to maintain the energy and quick thinking required to make this kind of studio show work was truly marvellous to behold. His guests Rob Beckett and Fay Ripley were brilliant to work with, each contributing some excellent spontaneous insights that kept the dialogue free-flowing and relevant to a TV audience of many hundreds of thousands of people.

    Rob Beckett, Fay Ripley, Jack Lewis

    We covered a huge amount of science over the course of my 6 min segment including: a crash course in neuroplasticity, the insight that many people almost certainly use their phones regularly, intensively and long term enough to expect their brains to change accordingly, the psychological evidence that intensive smartphone use is affecting our attention, memory and appetite for immediate gratification and the high likelihood that people who are forever looking down at their phones instead of at the faces of their conversation partners will be missing out on the valuable social information that comes from fleeting micro-expressions, eye movements and body language.

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