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.

“What’s Normal?” The diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children is on the rise

In an article in an issue of the New Yorker, Jerome Groopman writes lucidly about the explosion in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children. Reading it made me thank my lucky stars once again that I am not a child neurologist or child psychologist or child psychiatrist who actually has to address the problems…

Alvaro asked a tough question: How do you define SMART?

Alvaro asked this question as a comment after a blog entry discussed recent evidence that physical exercise contributes to academic success. Alvaro, “smart”, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. You do not necessarily want a computer jockey next to you in your foxhole. You do not necessarily want a great world scholar…

“WAR’S NEW WOUNDS. A shock wave of brain injuries”

That was the headline in a Washington Post article written by Ronald Glasser, published on Sunday, April 8, 2007. It reported a rather astounding statistic that applies to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars: About 30% of soldiers in those conflicts have been directly exposed to IED or other powerful explosions. That exposure has…

Reactions to a book about an autistic boy and his mom

Last month, I recommended a book called “Strange Son”, written by a mother who struggled to communicate with, understand, and help her own autistic child. When I was looking up the URL for the book, I scanned through the reviews posted on Amazon, and was stunned by two negative reactions. One was from a reader…

A recommended book (for some readers)

“Strange Son”, by Portia Iversen is a personal account of a very special individual (the co-founder of Cure Autism Now; a friend of mine) struggling to understand and help her autistic son. It is NOT a book about the general science of autism or about the landscape of rehabilitative therapies applied to help autistics, because…

More, better, quicker. New middle/high school computer-based language training programs

I attended a scientific meeting a few years ago in which Bill Jenkins, the program development team leader at Scientific Learning, described a radically improved version of one of their middle- and high school-targeted language learning programs (which they call “Literacy Advanced”). They have completely re-worked the game-play aspects of these exercises. Changes resulted in…

Brain plasticity-based “cognitive training” elevates BDNF

Serum BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophin factor) has been repeatedly shown to be lower than normal in schizophrenic, bipolar and depressed patient populations. Moreover, the severity of manias or depression have been shown to be inversely correlated with serum BDNF. This key brain trophic factor plays a complicated panoply of roles in brain development, in maintaining the…