The Dalai Lama's first visit to Alabama included several large public gatherings but I was invited to attend "Neuroplasticity and Healing," which was the scientific symposium he hosted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The featured neuroscientists were Dr. Edward Taub and Dr. Michael Merzenich. The moderator was Dr. Norman Doidge.
The Dalai Lama has a long-standing interest in science and he told the rapt audience that his four areas of interest are cosmology, physics, neurobiology, and psychology.
He is very interested in neuroplasticity and his visit to Alabama was actually prompted by a desire to see the work of Dr. Edward Taub who has pioneered a revolutionary approach to stroke rehabilitation. During this event Dr. Taub and Dr. Merzenich both shared how their work in brain plasticity is being used to help people with a variety of neurological challenges, but Dr. Merzenich also emphasized that these same principles can be applied by everyone. He explained that brain plasticity "is a two way process," which means that the choices we make are important. The Dalai Lama noted that Eastern practices like Meditation "work from the inside out," which is why he feels that Buddhist psychology and modern neuroscience can inform each other.
Episode 113 of the Brain Science Podcast includes audio excerpts from "Neuroplasticity and Healing" as well as my summary of the key ideas. Extras for the Mobile app include a free download of BSP 26 with Dr. Norman Doidge.
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Links and References:
- "Neuroplasticity and Healing" on YouTube
- Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life by Dr. Michael Merzenich PhD
- The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge (Audible link)
- Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves by Sharon Begley
Related Episodes of the Brain Science Podcast:
- BSP 10: Introduction to Brain Plasticity (Discussion of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain)
- BSP 26: Norman Doidge, MD, author of The Brain That Changes Itself
- BSP 28: Edward Taub, PhD: applies brain plasticity to Stroke Rehab
- BSP 54: Michael Merzenich, pioneer of Neuroplasticity
- BSP 105: Michael Merzenich talks about Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life
Next month's episode will be our 8th Annual Review Episode.
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