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Dr. Michael Merzenich, professor emeritus, UCSF, CSF; CSO, Posit Science

The Bloorview Research Institute was thrilled to host our Symposium 2013 Keynote Speaker, Dr. Michael Merzenich, Professor Emeritus at the University of California San Francisco and Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer of the Brain Plasticity Institute. 

About Dr. Merzenich

Dr. Merzenich earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Portland and his PhD at Johns Hopkins. He then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison before becoming a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2007, he retired from his long career at UCSF as Francis A. Sooy Professor and Co-Director of the Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1999 and the Institute of Medicine in 2008.

After retirement from the University of California, Dr. Merzenich co-founded Posit Science, where he now serves as the Chief Scientific Officer heading the company's science team.

Here is a selection of Dr. Merzenich's accomplishments in the his three decades as a pioneering brain researcher::

Dr. Merzenich has published more than 150 articles in leading peer-reviewed journals (such as Science and Nature.

He has received numerous awards and prizes (including the Ipsen Prize, Zülch Prize, Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award and Purkinje Medal), and been granted nearly 100 patents for his work.

In the late 1980s, Dr. Merzenich was on the team that invented the cochlear implant, now distributed by market leader Advanced Bionics.
 

In 1996, Dr. Merzenich was the founding CEO of Scientific Learning Corporation, which markets and distributes software that applies principles of brain plasticity to assist children with language learning and reading.

Dr. Merzenich and his work have been highlighted in hundreds of books about the brain, learning, rehabilitation, and plasticity. Dr. Merzenich's work is also often covered in the popular press, including the
 New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time,Forbes, Discover, and Newsweek.

Dr. Merzenich will be speaking at the BRI Symposium about brain recovery in children.


Abstract

Title: Brain recovery and empowerment, in struggling and in normal child populations.

Over the past several decades, neuroscientists have redefined the rules that govern the acquisition and refinement of behavioral ability in neurological terms. Importantly, they have revealed the fundamental contribution of plasticity processes to both the advance and the frustration or regression of human abilities across our human lifespan, through the operation of neurological processes that are, by their nature, broadly reversible. This science has also led to the development of a new class of therapeutics that directly target both behavioral and neurological re-normalization achieved via computer-controlled training, now being applied in a growing number of struggling child (and adult) populations. After a brief review of the premises underlying this new interpretation of the nature of child development and our humanity as a product of our adaptive neurology, we shall consider the contributions of plasticity to the expressions of developmental and acquired neurological illness—then briefly discuss how we are harnessing these same natural processes to systematically drive brains of child and young adult patient populations in improving/corrective directions.


You can also see Dr. Merzenich's Ted Talk on the Elastic Brain.

 

With a focus on the Brain, the Symposium in 2013 included both academic and lived experience speakers, research Quick Hits, and an exciting Cross-Talk where researchers from different disciplines weighed in on important topics.