Brain Plasticity Bases of Human Ability, Disability, and Recovery
Brain plasticity – the remodeling of effective brain connections as a function of brain use – is the primary basis of the acquisition of the specific skills and abilities that define our individual operational capabilities. Abnormal brain-remodeling progressions contribute crucially to developmental and acquired-adult disabilities. Using computer-guided approaches, we have employed the powerful capacity for functional brain remodeling to develop novel rehabilitation strategies designed to help impaired children and adults. We have also developed “brain fitness programs” designed to grow and sustain high performance capabilities in older-age populations. This talk shall provide a brief summary of our state of progress in this rapidly growing field.
Dr. Merzenich has been a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research, investigating animal, human and computational models of auditory and somatosensory perception and related aspects of cognition. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the Ipsen Prize, Zülch Prize of the Max-Planck Institute, Thomas Alva Edison Award and Purkinje Medal. He led the UCSF research team that developed one of the first commercial cochlear implants, now distributed by Advanced Bionics (a division of Boston Scientific). In 1996, Dr. Merzenich was the founding CEO of Scientific Learning Corporation (Nasdaq: SCIL), which markets and distributes software that applies principles of brain plasticity to assist children that have language learning, reading and cognitive impairments. He has been granted more than 50 U.S. patents. Dr. Merzenich earned his BS degree at the University of Portland and his PhD at Johns Hopkins.
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