"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.

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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

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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.

"All in the Mind" Looks at Brain Plasticity

Recently Natasha Mitchell did an excellent two-part All in the Mind  podcast about brain plasticity.  In Part 1, she interviewed Jeffrey Schwartz, MD and Norman Doidge, MD.  Dr. Schwartz is the author of The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, and Dr. Doidge wrote the recent bestseller,The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science.

In Part 2, Mitchell interviews Dr. Doidge further.  One of the topics they explore is the "dark side" of plasticity.  Since neuroplasticity is a dynamic, competitive process, it is actually a factor in how we form our habits, both good and bad . This interview is an excellent follow-up to the interview Dr. Doidge did for the Brain Science Podcast back in Episode 26.

You can listen to the podcasts and get transcripts at the All in the Mind website.

Guests Who Have Been on the Brain Science Podcast

The Brain Science Podcast provides a unique opportunity for scientists and writers to discuss their work and ideas in depth. Here is a list of the guests who have been interviewed. This list is complete through June 13, 2008.
  • Michael Arbib, PhD: The role of mirror neurons in imitation and language; Episode 39.
  • Sandra Blakeslee: co-author of The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better; Episode 23.
  • Louanne Brizendine MD: author of The Female Brain; Episode 20.
  • György Buzsáki, PhD: author of Rhythms of the Brain; Episode 31. (Interview Transcript)
  • Norman Doidge, MD: author of The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science; Episode 26.
  • Arthur Glenberg, PhD: Embodied cognition; Episode 36.
  • Elkhonon Goldberg, PhD: author of The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind and The Wisdom Paradox; Episode 18.
  • Jeff Hawkins: author of On Intelligence; Episode 38.
  • Rachel Herz, PhD: author of The Scent of Desire: Discovering our Enigmatic Sense of Smell; Episode 34.
  • Christof Koch, PhD: author of The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach; Episode 22. Interview transcript: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dg8sf6hf_33z9z29kfm
  • John Medina, PhD: author of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School; Episode 37.
  • Read Montague, PhD: author of Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions; Episode 15.
  • Rolf Pfiefer, PhD: author of How the Body Shapes the Way We Think: A New View of Intelligence ; Episode 25.
  • John J Ratey, MD: author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain; Episode 33.
  • Stuart Shanker, PhD: How the study of communication among bonobos provides clues about the role of emotional signaling in the evolution of language; Episode 7.
  • Edward Taub, PhD: revolutionary approach to stroke rehabilitation; Episode 28.
  • Maryanne Wolf, PhD: author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain; Episode 29.

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