If the travel industry can sell holidays that broaden the mind rather than just give people a thrill, they will be doing “a powerful thing for the 21st century”, a leading neuroscientist told the Abta travel convention.
Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE, professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford, told delegates that increasing use of computer games, social media and the internet at an early age meant that people were growing up with shorter attention spans, searching for ever more thrilling experiences.
Greenfield talked the audience through how connections in the brain are made, and that letting children play 5-10 hours of computer games a day reduced their ability to empathise because they were having less contact with people, and therefore were less able to learn about eye contact and body language in human interaction.
Excessive playing of fast-paced, exciting computer games meant that young people were growing up needing more thrilling experiences in real life, she continued.
Commenting on what this meant for the travel industry, Greenfield said it would be nice for companies to offer holidays which did not just cater for the thrill-seekers.
“Travel can broaden the mind and make you think more,” she said, urging holiday companies to create journeys that can offer experiences that enlarge your mind and way of thinking.