"Neuroplasticity and Healing" (BSP 113)

Click to play BSP 113

Click to play BSP 113

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.

Right Click to Download free mp3 

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)

  • Buy Episode Transcript for $1.

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.

  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE. All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Links and References:

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

Announcements:

  • Next month's episode will be our 8th Annual Review Episode.

  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE. Older episodes and episode transcripts are available for $1 each. Premium subscribers have unlimited access to all 100+ episodes and transcripts.

  • Reminder: The Brain Science Podcast mobile app is now FREE for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.  Check newer episodes for extra free content!

  • Don't forget to check out my other podcast Books and Ideas.

  • Please share your feedback about this episode by sending email to brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com or going to the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum at http://brainscienceforum.com. You can also post to our fan pages on Facebook or Google+.

The Dalai Lama explores Neuroplasticity (BSP 113)

The scientific highlight of the Dalai Lama's first visit to Alabama was an invitation-only event called "Neuroplasticity and Healing," which was held at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). BSP 113 features exclusive coverage of that event.

Click here to play the audio. Right click to download the mp3 file.

The episode transcript and full show notes will be posted next week.

Brain Plasticity with Michael Merzenich (BSP 105)

Michael Merzenich

Michael Merzenich

If you have read anything about brain plasticity you have seen the name Michael Merzenich. Dr. Merzenich is one of the pioneers in this field, having spent over 30 years documenting that the human brain (and that of other mammals) continues to change throughout life. I interviewed Dr. Merzenich several years ago (BSP 54), but the publication of his first book Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life gave us another opportunity to talk about how we can apply these discoveries in our daily lives.

According to Dr. Merzenich, "No matter how much you've struggled, no matter where you've been in your life, you're in charge of your life going forward.  And you have the capacity; you have the resources to change things for the better—always have that capacity.  And that's what the book is trying to emphasize. “ (BSP 105)

I found Soft-wired very compelling because it combines a clear explanation of the science with many stories about real people facing a wide variety of cognitive challenges. The overall tone of the book is very optimistic even though it also considers the way bad choices can contribute to cognitive decline. 

How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)

  • Buy Transcript for $1.

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.

  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE. All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free. See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Related Episodes:

  • BSP 10: Introduction to Brain Plasticity.

  • BSP 17: Discussion of The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older by Elkhonon Goldberg.

  • BSP 28: Interview with Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain That Changes Itself.

  • BSP 33: Interview with Dr. John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

  • BSP 54: Interview with Dr. Michael Merzenich, author of Soft-wired.

  • BSP 87: Interview with Dr. Pam Greenwood, co-author of Nurturing the Older Brain and Mind.

Further Reading:

Michael Merzenich Talks About Neuroplasticity (BSP 54)

Brain Science Podcast #54 is an interview with Dr. Michael Merzenich, one of the pioneers of neuroplasticity.  We talk about how the success of the cochlear implant revealed unexpected plasticity in adult brains and about how brain plasticity can be tapped to improve a wide variety of problems including dyslexia, autism, damage from disease and injury.  Healthy people of all ages can also tap the resource of brain plasticity to help maintain and improve their mental functions.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Links and References

Previous Episodes on Brain Plasticity

Send email feedback to Ginger Campbell, MD at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com

Dan Rather's Reports on Neuroplasticity

Today HDNet™ is re-showing an episode of Dan Rather Reports called "Mind Science."  It is an excellent review of neuroplasticity. It includes interviews with several leading scientists in the field.  I especially enjoyed seeing Nobel Laureate, Eric Kandel, talk about his work with memory.  (I talked about Kandel's work on the Brain Science Podcastin Episode 3 and Episode 12.)

"Mind Science" also features the Dalai Llama and scientist, Richard Davidson, talking about the evidence that meditation can change the brain.  Rather interviews Sharon Begley about her book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves  (which I discussed in detail in Episode 10 of the Brain Science Podcast).  Other scientists featured in the episode include Michael Merzenich on improving brain function as we age, and Dr. Edward Taub on his revolutionary approach to stroke rehabilitation.  (My show notes for Episode 10 include links for all the scientists interviewed by Rather.)

It was particulary gratifying to see Dr. Kandel endorse Ed Taub's Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy.  Dr. Taub was interviewed in Episode 28 of the Brain Science Podcast.  If you don't get HDNet™, you can watch Dan Rather Reports on-line, via podcast or on Facebook.

Summary of relevant episodes of the Brain Science Podcast::

Easter Seals Announces Program to Help Vets with Head Injuries

In a recent interview with Dr. Edward Taub (Brain Science Podcast #28), we learned that Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy has been shown to help people with traumatic brain injuries, but that the Veteran's Administration has been slow to acknowledge the needs of veterans returning from Iraq and  Afghanistan.  Fortunately, the problem seems to be receiving increasing attention.

The January 25th episode of the Science Magazine podcast discusses an article exploring the possible mechanisms of brain injury ocurring in near-blast conditions, where often the effects may be delayed and subtle.

Also, Easter Seals has just announced that it is funding a program that will provide access to Michael Merzenich's highly regarded Posit Science Program, an on-line program originally developed to help older patients regain and maintain their mental agility.  I don't know if they have done any work with traumatic brain injury, but the program certainly shows promise.


References: