The New York Neuropsychology Group (NYNG) Presents:
The 2021 Annual Arthur L. Benton Lecture
Improving the Human Brain
Michael I. Posner, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon
Adjunct Professor, Weill Medical College
Will be held via Zoom
January 26th, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
FREE for NYNG Members; $20 for Non-members
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Improving the Human Brain
Abstract: Methods for improving human brain function have greatly increased in recent years. In this paper we emphasize attention networks involved in alertness, orienting to sensory stimuli or control of voluntary behavior. These networks can be activated by a task or at rest. We can improve these networks by training on a particular task or by changing brain state through physical exercise or meditation. Meditation produces a frontal theta rhythm when imposed over many days in the mouse brain can improve white matter surrounding the areas of activation. We have found methods to improve intrinsic theta rhythms in critical areas of the human brain. We were not able so far to show that repetitive theta stimulation can improve white matter in different brain areas. However, there is increasing evidence that even short-term theta stimulation can improve performance perhaps by enhancing Long Term Potentiation (LTP) and thus improving synaptic plasticity. Some of these methods have been applied to the study of tobacco and opioid addiction with surprisingly strong results. Much more research is needed to improve the prospects for remediation of physical and mental disorders.
Biography: For more than fifty years Michael Posner has studied how mental operations, particularly those related to attention, are carried out by neural networks. He has used cognitive, imaging, and genetic methods. In 1998 he was founding director of the Sackler Institute at Weill Medical College. He continues studies as Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon and Adjunct Professor at Weill Medical College. His current work examines the mechanisms of changes in white matter resulting from various forms of training. A mouse model is used to examine the general changes with learning and the reason for individual differences in changed connectivity. He has received many honors. In 2009 President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Science in Behavioral and Social Science, and in 2017 he was given the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science.