(San Francisco) – World-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Michael Merzenich will deliver a lecture at the University of Iowa Medical School on sustaining brain health and growing human abilities as you age, on Wednesday, April 4 from 11am to 1pm in the Prem Sahai Auditorium. Dr. Merzenich is the Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Posit Science, which markets the BrainHQ cloud-based exercises and assessments.
The talk is the annual Joe L. Parkin Memorial Lecture on Aging, established by a gift from The Retirement Research Foundation of Chicago.
Dr. Merzenich may be best known to the public from six documentaries for public television that explain the mechanics and promise of brain plasticity – the ability of the brain to change chemically, physically and functionally based on sensory and other inputs. He is best known to scientific communities for his discovery that plasticity is a powerful force remodeling the brain from birth until death, and for his pioneering efforts in harnessing plasticity.
Thirty years ago, experts believed that the brain was only plastic in childhood, and then it became hard-wired and destined to wear out. Dr. Merzenich and his colleagues toppled that paradigm in hundreds of experiments, showing that the brain is constantly rewiring.
He was the first researcher to successfully harness plasticity to improve the human condition – through his co-invention of the cochlear implant, which restored hearing to people living with deafness by using an implanted device to translate soundwaves into electrical impulses directed into the speech and language system of the brain.
For the past two decades, Dr. Merzenich has pioneered the use of computers, tablets and smartphones to administer exercises that train brains to be faster and more accurate. That technology has been commercialized as BrainHQ, available on a subscription basis for as little as $8 per month.
There are now more than 140 peer-reviewed science and journal articles on the benefits of using BrainHQ, including improved performance on standard measures of cognition (e.g., speed, attention, memory) on standard measures of quality of life (e.g., mood, confidence, health-related quality of life) and at real world activities (e.g., balance, driving, everyday cognition).
While originally designed to help with cognitive aging, the exercises are increasingly used by people engaged in activities demanding peak performance, such as use by elite athletes and the military.