The Nuts and Bolts of Better Brains: Harnessing the Power of Neuroplasticity

The Nuts and Bolts of Better Brains: Harnessing the Power of Neuroplasticity

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What if your brain at 77 were as plastic as it was at 7? What if you could learn Mandarin with the ease of a toddler or play Rachmaninoff without breaking a sweat? A growing understanding of neuroplasticity suggests these fantasies could one day become reality. Neuroplasticity may also be the key to solving diseases like Alzheimer’s, depression, and autism. In this program, leading neuroscientists discuss their most recent findings and both the tantalizing possibilities and pitfalls for our future cognitive selves.

PARTICIPANTS: Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Nim Tottenham, Carla Shatz



This program is part of the BIG IDEAS SERIES, made possible with support from the JOHN TEMPLETON FOUNDATION.

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– Opening film 00:00
– What is neuroplasticity? 03:53
– Participant introductions 04:21
– Structure of the brain 05:21
– Is the brain fundamentally unwired at the start? 07:02
– Why does the process of human brain development seem inefficient? 08:30
– Balancing stability and plasticity 10:43
– Critical periods of brain development 13:01
– Extended human childhood development compared to other animals 14:54
– Stability and. plasticity in the visual system 17:37
– Reopening the visual system 25:13
– Pros and cons of brain plasticity vs. stability 27:28
– Plasticity in the autistic brain 29:55
– What is Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) 31:25
– Phases of emotional development 33:10
– Schizophrenia and plasticity 37:40
– Recovery from brain injury 40:24
– Modern rehabilitation techniques 47:21
– Holy grail of Neuroscience 50:12
– Enhancing memory performance as we age 53:37
– Regulating emotions 57:19

– Produced by Nils Kongshaug
– Associate Produced by Christine Driscoll
– Opening film written / produced by Vin Liota
– Music provided by APM
– Additional images and footage provided by: Getty Images, Shutterstock, Videoblocks

This program was recorded live at the 2018 World Science Festival and has been edited and condensed for YouTube.