Presented by Richard J. Davidson
In this talk, Richard J. Davidson will explore recent scientific research on the neuroscience of positive human qualities and how they can be cultivated through contemplative practice. Distinctions among different forms of contemplative practices will be introduced and they will be shown to have different neural and behavioral consequences, as well as important consequences for physical health in both long-term and novice practitioners. New research also shows that meditation-based interventions delivered online can produce behavioral and neural changes. Collectively, this body of research indicates that we can cultivate adaptive neural changes and strengthen positive human qualities through systematic mental practice.
Michael Merzenich studies neuroplasticity — the brain’s powerful ability to change itself and adapt — and ways we might make use of that plasticity to heal injured brains and enhance the skills in healthy ones.
One of the foremost researchers of neuroplasticity, Michael Merzenich’s work has shown that the brain retains its ability to alter itself well into adulthood — suggesting that brains with injuries or disease might be able to recover function, even later in life. He has also explored the way the senses are mapped in regions of the brain and the way sensations teach the brain to recognize new patterns.
Merzenich wants to bring the powerful plasticity of the brain into practical use through technologies and methods that harness it to improve learning. He founded Scientific Learning Corporation, which markets and distributes educational software for children based on models of brain plasticity. He is co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Posit Science, which creates “brain training” software also based on his research.
Merzenich is professor emeritus of neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco.
“Merzenich is perhaps the most recognizable figure in brain plasticity and how one develops competence through experience and learning.”
Dominique M. Durand