Dr Hannah Critchlow

Bestselling author, broadcaster and neuroscience presenter who loves brain based chats plus jogs along the towpath…

I’m an internationally acclaimed neuroscientist based at the University of Cambridge. I love demystifying the human brain on Radio, TV and at Festivals.

I’ve helped present BBC’s Tomorrow’s World Live and BBC2 Family Brain Games, published ‘Consciousness: A Ladybird Expert Guide’ with Penguin, The Science of Fate, with Hodder in 2019 which went on to become a Sunday Times Bestseller and was translated into 8 different languages and Joined up Thinking, with Hodder, in 2022 to critical acclaim.

In 2019 I was named by Nature as one of Cambridge University’s ‘Rising Stars in Life Sciences’ in recognition for achievements in science engagement. I was also elected member of the prestigious European Dana Alliance of the Brain and joined the judging panel for the prestigious Wellcome Trust Science book Prize for 2018.

My work in science communication saw me named as a Top 100 UK scientist by the Science Council in 2014 and one of Cambridge University’s most ‘inspirational and successful women in science’ in 2013. In 2022 I was awarded an Honorary Degree from Brunel University for my work in science communication.

During my PhD I was awarded a Cambridge University Fellowship and as an undergraduate received three University Prizes as Best Biologist.

Follow what I’m up to:      



Physical activity is good for your connectome…


Joined Up Thinking, Hodder & Stoughton, August 2022

A lively examination of communal endeavour… important and correct Steven Poole ― The Guardian

For tens of thousands of years we have tried to work out how we can best think. At last this genius work explains the past, the present and the future of our minds. Read – to be amazed — Bettany Hughes

Hannah Critchlow has written a timely and engaging book about human intelligence and the challenges our brains face in the twenty-first century. It will make you think. It might even change for the better the way you think. — Ian Rankin

A powerful manifesto for the strength of “we” thinking — Marcus du Sautoy

Hannah Critchlow’s research into collective intelligence, team work, communication, performance, resilience, ethics etc from a neuroscience perspective is absolutely fascinating. — Tatjana Marinko

From startling futuristic speculation to practical exercises in getting in touch with your own routine mental processes, Hannah Critchlow steers us with a sure hand and an unfailingly clear and engaging voice. This is a treasure of a book, exploding some damaging myths and encouraging us to re-imagine the values of relationality and receptivity in our thinking. — Rowan Williams

This is absolutely wonderful, uplifting and soulful. I can’t tell you how much we need joined-up thinking – this book and the thing itself. The future of humanity very much depends on how well we embrace these ground-breaking provocative ideas, to focus on the collective ‘we’ more than the individual ‘me’. — Daniel M. Davis

The Science of Fate, Hodder & Stoughton, May 2019

The Sunday Times Bestseller

A truly fascinating read — The Daily Telegraph

Everybody can benefit from Critchlow’s book — New Scientist

In this engrossing and highly illuminating book Critchlow brilliantly argues that this intimate knowledge can actually empower us to shape better future for ourselves — The Bookseller, Editors Science Choice Book of the Week

A humane and highly readable account of the neuroscience that underpins our ideas of free will and fate. — Professor David Runciman, Cambridge University & Host of Talking Politics podcast

Acute, mind-opening, highly accessible – this book doesn’t just explain how our lives might pan out, it helps us live better. — Bettany Hughes, Historian, Author & Broadcaster

Consciousness: A Ladybird Expert Guide, Penguin, June 2018

A really impressive example of how scientific research can be made accessible and appealing, and it will fulfil a seriously important function in opening up such research to potential students as well as a wider interested public — Lord Rowan Williams, Former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Hay Festival Conversations: Thirty Conversations for Thirty Years, Hay Festival Press, 2017. , Hay Festival Press, 2017. 

Including a conversation between Bettany Hughes and Hannah Critchlow,  as part of the Raymond Williams Dailogue: The Ideas That Make Us where a classicist and a neuroscientist explore the Ancient Greek words Liberty, Comedy, Charisma, Xenia, Wisdom and Peace and travel both forwards and backwards in time, investigating how these ideas have been moulded by history and have made an impact on history and the human experience.

Judge of the prestigious 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, an annual British literary award sponsored by the Wellcome Trust to “celebrate the topics of health and medicine in literature”, including fiction and non-fiction.

Winner of the Prize: Mark O’Connell, To be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death.


How Our Brains Shape Destiny: TEDx talk

Decoding Destiny: a BBC Radio 4 documentary https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00050p8

BBC 2 Family Brain Games with Dara O’Brian: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00062jk

BBC Tomorrow’s World Live The Future of the Mind:


Channel 4’s Secret Lives of 4&5 year olds https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-secret-life-of-4-and-5-year-olds/on-demand/68153-004

Channel 4’s Face

Australian ABC Breakfast Show

The Russel Howard Show

BBC Radio 4 How to have a Better Brain: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b067gcj6/episodes/player

Cosmic Shambles: cosmicshambles.com/bookshambles/latitude_part2_2018

Naked Neuroscience: www.thenakedscientists.com/podcasts/naked-neuroscience/wanderings-naked-brain

Live Events

“Sometimes people just blow your mind with insights that you never ever imagined. Hannah Critchlow is one such expert that we work with that never stops to amaze.

We talk so much about how to be efficient, perform as a team, take decisions – but rarely do we talk about the actual organ in our body that does this for our. Our Brain! Hannah’s research into collective intelligence, team work, communication, performance, resilience, ethics etc from a neuroscience perspective is absolutely fascinating.”Tatjana Marinko, Middle East Director of the London Speaker Bureau

Hannah is a top professional – diligent and easy to work with. Hannah has the ability to simplify complex neuroscience into content that is easily digestible. She delivered a fantastic session full of knowledge and practical ideas for leaders to take away and use immediately.”Brendan Barns, Founder London Business Forum

“We’ve worked with Hannah for 4 years….she has an exceptional ability to communicate complicated ideas about science and technology in a way that speaks to the general public and to schools audiences. She’s lectured about developments in neuroscience at Hay several times to audiences of 1,000 and 1,750. It’s a scale that’s challenging for most teachers. She works the space like a rockstar. Each time she has had the highest possible response rating from the audiences, both from students and from professional adults.” Peter Florence, Director of the Hay Festival

“Hannah was one of our favourite ever speakers at 5×15- she’s dynamic, and an incredible communicator of complex and profound ideas. She wowed our audience in Hackney with her laughing rats and astounding insights into the human brain- we can’t wait for her to come back to join us again.” – Daisy Leitch: Director of 5 x 15

“Hannah has been a leading presenter at the Cambridge Science Festival for many years, and thousands of people from schools and family audiences have really enjoyed her interactive demonstration lectures. Hannah’s clear and lively communication style has brought the subject of neuroscience alive and her popular talks have received great feedback. Hannah also carried out a number of thoughtful and targeted public engagement activities with community groups including Squeaky Gate, a charity empowering people including those with mental health issues through arts and music.” – Nicky Buckley, Former Head of Public Engagement, University of Cambridge

“The human brain is one of those subjects of such forbidding complexity that anything less than a clear, engaging, approachable and intelligent talk would leave an audience staring blankly at an imponderable galaxy of neurons and synapses. Hannah Critchlow’s lecture, to several hundred A-level Biology students, more than exceeded these testing requirements. She has the rare and important quality of being able to distil even the most recondite ideas for an audience beyond the laboratory and in doing so reminding a young audience that scientific inquiry is for anyone who is curious. It’s particularly exhilarating to see a group of students being guided expertly through the great leaps in understanding made in neuroscience, to learn about the truly wondrous advances still to be made and perhaps to wonder if they could be the ones who will be making the discoveries of the future.”  – Dan Powell, Director of A’Level Science Live

“Hannah gave a talk at the How To Academy’s annual Conference on How To Change the World and she was absolutely fabulous. It was a totally inspiring talk that had the audience completely rapt. She is the most brilliant communicator of science.” – John Gordon, Director of the How to Change the World Academy

Hannah Critchlow is the most brilliantly engaging speaker. She wowed a Shambala crowd of 200 at the festival in 2018, and we couldn’t wait to have her back this year. One of our absolute highlights of last year.”– Sophie Chatz, Shambala Festival programmer