Dr. Merzenich is the brain behind Fast ForWord and the author of Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life. For nearly five decades, he has been a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research.
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 if it were possible to reopen critical-period plasticity, so that adults could pick up languages the way children do, just by being exposed to them? Merzenich had already shown that plasticity extends into adulthood, and that with work—by paying close attention—we can rewire our brains. But now he was asking, could the critical period of effortless learning be extended?
Mike has been a pioneer and a leader in demonstrating that the brain function and wiring is sensitive to neural activity. His basic work has elucidated mechanisms underlying this plasticity, and his translational work has illuminated the possible ways medicine can intervene to ameliorate brain disorders… his work has revolutionized the way we view the brain’s plasticity and his latest work in mental disorders illustrates his sincere dedication to alleviate human suffering.” – Dr. John Rubenstein, MD, PhD, distinguished professor in Child Psychiatry at UCSF
Dr. Merzenich’s work is also often covered in the popular press, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Wired, Forbes,Discover, and Newsweek. He has appeared extensively on television. He is the scientific consultant and provided the brain assessments and brain training exercises for the Discovery Channel show “Hack My Brain” (which aired in Australia as “Redesign My Brain.”) His work has also been featured on four PBS specials: “The Brain Fitness Program,” “Brain Fitness 2: Sight and Sound,” “The New Science of Learning,” and “Brain Fitness Frontiers.”
Dr. Merzenich earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Portland and his PhD at Johns Hopkins. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in Madison before becoming a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2007, he retired from his long career at UCSF as Francis A. Sooy Professor and Co-Director of the Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1999 and the Institute of Medicine in 2008.
In the late 1980s, Dr. Merzenich was on the team that invented the cochlear implant, now distributed by market leader Advanced Bionics. In 1996, Dr. Merzenich was the founding CEO of Scientific Learning Corporation (Nasdaq: SCIL), which markets and distributes software that applies principles of brain plasticity to assist children with language learning and reading.
To learn more about Dr. Merzenich’s work, we recommend his book Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change your Life.
“Soft-Wired is the most authoritative, useful and entertaining book on the subject of brain plasticity. Written by the scientist who launched the field, this book stands above them all.” — Sandra Blakeslee, New York Times science writer