Dr. Merzenich has published more than 150 articles in leading peer-reviewed journals (such as Science and Nature), received numerous awards and prizes (including the Russ Prize, Ipsen Prize, Zülch Prize, Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award and Purkinje Medal), and been granted nearly 100 patents for his work. He and his work have been highlighted in hundreds of books about the brain, learning, rehabilitation, and plasticity.

Genetics explanations for neurological & psychiatric illness

There is an interesting set of commentaries in the current issue of The New England Journal of Medicine in which scientists reflect on why genetic screening strategies have had such limited value, for explaining the risks of onset of the great human diseases and disorders. There has been a longstanding presumption (most strongly held by…

Seeing fast-moving things at an older age

Dr. John Andersen recently visited our research group from his laboratory at the University of California at Riverside, to help us understand important studies conducted in his laboratory documenting some aspects of change in the visual perceptual abilities of older individuals. He and his colleagues have conducted a number of important and provocative studies that…

Brain plasticity and criminal behavior; part 2

This post is a continuation of my previous post, Brain plasticity and criminal behavior part 1 Now, let’s consider the child in which “all does NOT go well”. 1) What if the schedules of interaction between the child and his primary caregiver(s) are sparse? 2) What if interactions are more often negative than positive? 3)…

Brain plasticity and criminal behavior; part 1

On March 24th, I posted a blog entry in which I made an audacious promise. I promised to review why and how, from a brain plasticity perspective, we Americans are so good at creating criminals, in sharp contrast with most other modern world cultures. I cited the specific comparative example of Japan, where the rates…

Alarming increase of Bipolar Disorder in Babies

The headline read “98% of Babies Manic-Depressive” The news article was headlined New York: “A new study published in The Journal of Pediatric Medicine found that a shocking 98% of all infants suffer from bipolar disorder. ‘The majority of our subjects, regardless of size, sex, or race, exhibited extreme mood swings, often crying one minute…

Brain Plasticity and Culture

In a recent book “Brain and Culture” (MIT Press), Dr. Bruce Wexler, a Yale psychiatrist, considers some of the many implications of brain plasticity research for cultural progressions. One special point of his book is the way that our brains specialize, through our plasticity mechanisms, to create a model of the culture (our world) into…

Brain plasticity and the law

My wife Diane and I just returned from a working visit to Japan (I was an instructor in a “Spring Symposium” in Kyoto, attended by top Japanese neuroscience doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows). On this trip, we took an extra day to stay overnight in a Buddhist monastery on Mount Koyosan, a sacred site deep…

Moderate drinking and longevity

I have earlier described evidence from a large British study that identified a positive impact of the moderate consumption of alcohol on longevity — in their case, apparently adding about 1.5 years to a lifespan. Now, from my own university comes another large, careful study that supports this conclusion, while doing a little better job…