The Birth of Neuroplasticity Interventions: A Twenty Year Perspective


Fast ForWord® was the first, computer/Internet delivered, neuroplasticity-based training program ever developed to enhance neural performance. It grew out of over 25 years of basic and clinical research in two distinct scientific disciplines.

One utilized behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods to study individual differences in language development and the etiology of developmental language-based learning disabilities (including Specific Language Impairment, Autism and Dyslexia).

The other utilized neurophysiological and behavioral methods in animals to study neuroplasticity, that is, changes at the cellular level driven by behavioral training techniques.

This chapter reviews (1) how these two lines of research were integrated to form the scientific basis of Fast ForWord® and (2) the steps taken to translate and instantiate our collaborative laboratory research into clinical and classroom interventionsthat could be scaled up for broad distribution around the world, while remaining efficient, effective and enduring. In 1996, Scientific Learning Corporation (SLC) was co-founded by four research scientists (Paula Tallal, Michael Merzenich, William Jenkins and Steve Miller).

To date, nearly three million children in 55 countries have received Fast ForWord® interventions. On any given school day approximately 100,000 children log in to train on one of twelve Fast ForWord®Language, Literacy or Reading programs. More recently, Fast ForWord® language and reading programs are being used increasingly as an effective method for improving English as a second language (ESL), including success for ESL children whose first language is non-alphabetic.


When we began our collaboration in 1993, the now rapidly growing fields of “cognitive neurotherapeutics” and “neuroeducation” did not exist, nor did the concept of using neuroplasticity-based training to improve “brain fitness”. The methods we developed, and subsequently were the basis of over 50 patents, were the first to use video gaming technologies with the explicit goal of improving human performance.

Research on Language Development and Disorders

The most basic unit of any language is the phoneme, the smallest unit of sound that can change the meaning of a word. For alphabetic languages, in order to learn how to read and become a proficient reader the child must become aware that words can be segmented into smaller units of sound (phonemes) and it is these sounds that the letters represent. This is referred to as phonological awareness. Phonemes are the basic building blocks for spoken language, as well as for alphabetic written languages.

Research on Neuroplasticity-Based Training

Neurophysiologists have mapped the features of the sensory world at the single cell level. This research has shown that within each sensory modality the features that represent the physical world come to be mapped at the cellular level in a highly organized fashion.

The Birth of Fast ForWord®: Translating Theory into Practice

Considering the amount of speech directed to the infant, it is easy to understand how important speech is in shaping the auditory cortex during critical periods of human development.

Designing Neuroplasticity-Based Training Games

For our first study we designed and developed a series of verbal training exercises ranging from speech discrimination to grammatical comprehension, disguised as “games”. Some of these games were implemented on computers, while trained professionals using tape-recorded stimuli presented others.

The First Laboratory Studies: Rutgers Summer Camps 1994–1995

Our initial laboratory studies were conducted with children who each met the criteria for language learning impairment (LLI). Two groups matched on age, IQ and language skills were quasi-randomly assigned to receive the same language intervention program.

Scaling Up: The “Neurotherapeutic Revolution”

  • Fast ForWord® Language v1
  • First Multi-site Clinical Field Trial (1996–1997)
It is one thing to obtain results in well-controlled studies in a research laboratory under the direct supervision of skilled research scientists. It is quite another to demonstrate that efficacy can be achieve in “real-world” clinics and classrooms where children most commonly receive intervention. Soon after founding Scientific Learning Corporation (SLC) our first goal was to convert the games used in our laboratory studies into a fully computerized training program (Fast ForWord® Language v1), and then to conduct large-scale field trials in clinical and educational settings to assess its “real-world” efficacy.

Independent Agency Evaluations of Fast ForWord®

Studies on the effectiveness of educational and/or clinical interventions are inherently difficult, in part because of the many skill sets and multidisciplinary collaborations required to conduct these studies in “real- world” clinics and school settings. Before introducing a new method, curriculum or product, schools have to answer a practical question: does the new approach leads to better outcomes for their students than whatever intervention strategies they currently have in place? In translating research from the laboratory to classrooms, we have found that most school administrators and curriculum directors are only willing to make important decisions for their school after they have conducted their own, internal, independent study.

Cognitive Neurotherapeutics: The Challenges of Translation

The biggest challenge we have faced along our journey to translate our laboratory research into real world settings has been negotiating the torturous path between the world of our scientific colleagues, as compared to the very different world of K-12 educators and clinicians who make the decisions about whether our products will be offered to the children who could benefit from them. Nowhere have these different worlds collided more directly than when it comes to assessing and reporting the efficacy of Fast ForWord® products.

To Learn more about The Birth of Neuroplasticity Interventions. Download the PDF Article (there is a publishers charge)  Click here

Evidence Based Education

Fast ForWord language and reading intervention allows educators, parents, and clinical providers to easily track a learner’s progress. MySciLEARN reports and Reading Progress Indicator assessments ensure every learner receives the appropriate guidance and support necessary to become a better reader and better student.


Reading Progress Indicator (RPI)is an online assessment that rapidly measures the effects of the Fast ForWord family of products by evaluating reading performance as students progress from product to product.

RPI Combines with MyScilearn to Provide Valuable Information for Teachers on Each Student

Reading Progress Indicator (RPI) assessments correlate to international recognised normed assessments and help indicate how learners are responding to Fast ForWord.

Quickly assesses four key skill areas: phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Automatically scores assessment and report results for parents, teachers, and administrators.

Provides accurate progress information that correlates to nationally recognised normed assessments.

Automatically generates assessment reports for individuals, groups and schools.

Reading Progress Indicator (RPI) was developed by Scientific Learning and Bookette Software Company (now Pearson plc).

Established psychometric procedures were used to produce a test that is valid, reliable, and unbiased, and to generate nationally-representative norms.

See the results of 23 validation studies
Click here

Reading Progress Indicator provides four assessment levels based on the grade entered for the student:

K 2-3,
K 4-6, and
K 7-13+

(Pre-Kindergarten students are not eligible for the assessments).
The assessments are not timed.


Leadership and Classroom Secrets to Help Struggling Readers Achieve


Leadership and Classroom Secrets to Help Struggling Readers Achieve

By Dr. Eric Jensen

The achievement gap between rich students and poor students continues to be a major problem in our schools.

Discover how learning environments and different teaching strategies impact brain development, and what school leaders and educators can do to help students of poverty catch up to their peers once and for all.

Dr. Jensen is a leader in brain-based learning and author of several best-selling books, including Poor Students, Rich Teaching.

If you are looking for ways to boost your students performance, Please see the full webinar.

Download Slides Here

Download Certificate Here

About the Presenter:

Eric Jensen is a former teacher with a real love of learning. He has taught at all levels, from elementary school through university, and he is currently completing his doctorate in human development.

In 1981, Jensen co-founded the United States’ first and largest brain-compatible learning program, now with more than 50,000 graduates. He has since written Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Brain-Based Learning, Enriching the Brain, and 25 other books on learning and the brain.

Jensen is currently a member of the Society for Neuroscience and the New York Academy of Sciences. He was the founder of the Learning Brain EXPO and has trained educators and trainers worldwide in this field for 25 years.

He is deeply committed to making a positive, lasting difference in the way we learn. Currently, he speaks at conferences and conducts in-school professional development on poverty and engagement.


Webinar – New Science of Learning for Struggling Readers

Fasr ForWord, Neuron English


Fasr ForWord, Neuron English

Webinar – New Science of Learning for Struggling Readers

Presenter: Martha S. Burns, Ph.D.
Date/Time: Monday September 11, 2017, 9pm London UK
Length: 60 minutes
No Charge/Free

Updated with 2017 research, this is a must-see for those interested in how neuroscience is impacting education. See the latest research on how the brain is organized (or not!) for reading, and what’s happening with your struggling students. We’ll show how the science of learning has guided the development of technologies like Fast ForWord to improve the underlying memory, attention, and processing abilities that these students need to catch up, once and for all.

Marty Burns, Reading Assistant



How You Can Use Neuroplasticity to Improve the Brain’s Ability to Learn

Fast ForWord, Mike Merzenich, Neuron English





His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama hosts this lively discussion of the brain’s healing power at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Neuroplasticity and Healing” features presentations by leading brain plasticity experts Dr. Edward Taub of UAB and Dr. Michael Merzenich of the University of California, San Francisco, with comments on their research and treatments from His Holiness.

Topic highlights:

Understand the Impact of Brain Plasticity
The Reading Brain
Training Non-Readers to Read
The Strong Role of the Mother
The Reversibility of the Brain
How to Train the Brain at Home or at School
Brain Noise

Transcription text
Not Available

The Brain That Changes Itself – by Norman Doidge

“They were muddy in, muddy out,” says Merzenich. Improper hearing led to weaknesses in all the language tasks, so they were weak in vocabulary, comprehension, speech, reading, and writing. Because they spent so much energy decoding words, they tended to use shorter sentences and failed to exercise their memory for longer sentences. Their language processing was more childlike, or “delayed,” and they still needed practice distinguishing “da, da, da” and “ba, ba, ba.”

Download Your Free Extract

Click Here to Get Your Free ChapterExtracts: “They were muddy in, muddy out,” says Merzenich. Improper hearing led to weaknesses in all the language tasks, so they were weak in vocabulary, comprehension, speech, reading, and writing. Because they spent so much energy decoding words, they tended to use shorter sentences and failed to exercise their memory for longer sentences. Their language processing was more childlike, or “delayed,” and they still needed practice distinguishing “da, da, da” and “ba, ba, ba.” Merzenich now became aware of the work of Paula Tallal at Rutgers, who had begun to analyze why children have trouble learning to read. Somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of preschool children have a language disability that makes it difficult for them to read, write, or even follow instructions. Sometimes these children are called dyslexic. Babies begin talking by practicing consonant-vowel combinations, cooing “da, da, da” and “ba, ba, ba.” In many languages their first words consist of such combinations. In English their first words are often “mama” and “dada,” “pee pee,” and so on.

Tallal’s research showed that children with language disabilities have auditory processing problems with common consonant-vowel combinations that are spoken quickly and are called “the fast parts of speech.” The children have trouble hearing them accurately and, as a result, reproducing them accurately. Merzenich believed that these children’s auditory cortex neurons were firing too slowly, so they couldn’t distinguish between two very similar sounds or be certain, if two sounds occurred close together, which was first and which was second. Often they didn’t hear the beginnings of syllables or the sound changes within syllables. Normally neurons, after they have processed a sound, are ready to fire again after about a 30-millisecond rest. Eighty percent of language-impaired children took at least three times that long, so that they lost large amounts of language information. When their neuron-firing patterns were examined, the signals weren’t clear.

Fast ForWord is the name of the training program they developed for language-impaired and learning disabled children. The program exercises every basic brain function involved in language from decoding sounds up to comprehension—a kind of cerebral cross-training. The program offers seven brain exercises. One teaches the children to improve their ability to distinguish short sounds from long. A cow flies across the computer screen, making a series of mooing sounds. The child has to catch the cow with the computer cursor and hold it by depressing the mouse button. Then suddenly the length of the moo sound changes subtly. At this point the child must release the cow and let it fly away. A child who releases it just after the sound changes scores points. In another game children learn to identify easily confused consonant-vowel combinations, such as “ba” and “da,” first at slower speeds than they occur in normal language, and then at increasingly faster speeds. Another game teaches the children to hear faster and faster frequency glides (sounds like “whooooop” that sweep up). Another teaches them to remember and match sounds. The “fast parts of speech” are used throughout the exercises but have been slowed down with the help of computers, so the language-disabled children can hear them and develop clear maps for them; then gradually, over the course of the exercises, they are sped up. Whenever a goal is achieved, something funny happens: the character in the animation eats the answer, gets indigestion, gets a funny look on its face, or makes some slapstick move that is unexpected enough to keep the child attentive. This “reward” is a crucial feature of the program, because each time the child is rewarded, his brain secretes such neurotransmitters as dopamine and acetylcholine, which help consolidate the map changes he has just made. (Dopamine reinforces the reward, and acetylcholine helps the brain “tune in” and sharpen memories.)

“Before he did Fast ForWord,” his mother recalls, “you’d put him at the computer, and he got very stressed out. With this program, though, he spent a hundred minutes (now 30 minutes – editor) a day for a solid eight weeks at the computer. He loved doing it and loved the scoring system because he could see himself going up, up, up,” says his mother. As he improved, he became able to perceive inflections in speech, got better at reading the emotions of others, and became a less anxious child. “So much changed for him. When he brought his midterms home, he said, ‘It is better than last year, Mommy.’ He began bringing home A and B marks on his papers most of the time—a noticeable difference…Now it’s ‘I can do this. This is my grade. I can make it better.’ I feel like I had my prayer answered, it’s done so much for him. It’s amazing.” A year later he continues to improve Because so many autistic children have language impairments, clinicians began to suggest the Fast ForWord program for them. They never anticipated what might happen.

Parents of autistic children who did Fast ForWord told Merzenich that their children became more connected socially. He began asking, were the children simply being trained to be more attentive listeners? And he was fascinated by the fact that with Fast ForWord both the language symptoms and the autistic symptoms seemed to be fading together. Could this mean that the language and autistic problems were different expressions of a common problem? Two studies of autistic children confirmed what Merzenich had been hearing. One, a language study, showed that Fast ForWord quickly moved autistic children from severe language impairment to the normal range. But another pilot study of one hundred autistic children showed that Fast ForWord had a significant impact on their autistic symptoms as well. Their attention spans improved. Their sense of humor improved. They became more connected to people. They developed better eye contact, began greeting people and addressing them by name, spoke with them, and said good-bye at the end of their encounters. It seemed the children were beginning to experience the world as filled with other human minds.

What is remarkable about the cortex in the critical period is that it is so plastic that its structure can be changed just by exposing it to new stimuli. That sensitivity allows babies and very young children in the critical period of language development to pick up new sounds and words effortlessly, simply by hearing their parents speak; mere exposure causes their brain maps to wire in the changes. After the critical period older children and adults can, of course, learn languages, but they really have to work to pay attention. 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?

Merzenich continues to challenge the view that we are stuck with the brain we have at birth. The Merzenich brain is structured by its constant collaboration with the world, and it is not only the parts of the brain most exposed to the world, such as our senses, that are shaped by experience. Plastic change, caused by our experience, travels deep into the brain and ultimately even into our genes, molding them as well—a topic to which we shall return ndoidge

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5 Ways to Develop Executive Function for Early Learners

Autism – New Research and Interventions Update

Marty Burns, Reading Assistant


New research on the underlying neurology of autism is exploding as is information on the most effective interventions available to drive positive neurological changes in children on the autism spectrum. Join Dr. Martha Burns as she discusses the new research and shares data on neuroscience-based interventions that have been shown to enhance language, attention, and social skills in children on the autism spectrum.


WEBINAR – Key Topics –
Autism New Research and Interventions
Prevalence of Autism
Five Known Incidences
How the Brain (Synapses) Work
How Autism Affect the Social Brain
Multi-Sensory Integration
Role of Genetics/Vaccinations/Toxins
Research on Fast ForWord as an ASD Intervention
The Economist Article
Demonstration of Fast ForWord
Question and Answers

Transcription text

Click Here to Get the Webinar Transcription and Slides

Get a Free Extract from the book “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge
Autism spectrum disorders - Economist - World News, Politics, Economics, Business & Finance

Link to The Economist articles on Autism discussed on the Webinar






Link to Blog Article on the 4 Key Areas of Research on Autism


What are 5 known issues about the brain and what do we understand?

First of all is that autism spectrum disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders

The brain of a child on the autism spectrum is different from the brain of a child who doesn’t fall on the autism spectrum. That doesn’t mean that those children are necessarily in anyway impaired in many aspects of thinking…..

There are also differences in the way the brain of children of spectrum connects to each other. The regions connect  to each other. I will show you that data. There is an imbalance in the way that the brain become excited verses the way that they inhabits. So this children tend to be hyper aroused or hypo aroused……

How Autism Affect the Social Brain

So the brain is the same way and when you start seeing one problem or one different then often you just start seeing many others as well and you don’t know which is really the primary issue or how they are sometimes related..

Multi-Sensory Integration
Now we also know the children on the spectrum have trouble with sensory or multisensory integration. OT’s have known this a long time. It’s the key to sensory integration therapy and what they know is that children can’t handle speech and hearing and vision all at the same time the brain becomes overwhelmed by that. So one of the things we are going to talk about when we talk about intervening with this kid is having more structured auditory intervention,

Role of Genetics/Vaccinations/Toxins
Just a little bit about the genetics. Just so you know that some parents think of maybe vaccines led to my child’s autism or some other kinds of issues. There is a movie out right now that was pulled, I think it was  on that whole issue with  vaccines, but the important thing to understand and if autism is genetic. That doesn’t mean that the child inherits all of the genes………


Please re-explain synaptic plasticity?


Synaptic plasticity then is the fact the brain is an experience dependent organ. What that means is that unlike your liver, your heart, your kidney your born with them and you got what you are born with. But the human brain is designed to shape itself based on experience and so the term is – experience depended on the organ. So if you are born in Japan your brain is good at Japanese, if you are a musician your brain gets really good at music and it gets better and better the more you do that…………………………..

Dyslexia, Visual or Auditory?

A Segment of Dyslexia – Issues with the Human “Letter Box”:

Dyslexia, Visual or Auditory Issue

Key Points

  • For some with dyslexia, the “letter box” of the mind is not reacting the way it does in average readers.
  • Reading does not come naturally. The brain of a human is not “wired” for reading
  • Children need to perceive speech sounds and letters quickly and accurately to read effectively.
  • Dyslexics experience difficulty with both listening to the sounds inside of words and perceiving letters.
  • The visual word structure region of the brain; in the occipital lobe, there is a “letter box”

Get Your Free Paper on Reading Difficulties The first endeavors to treat dyslexia 50 years or more ago focused around the significance of letter recognition. Early researchers misunderstood dyslexia and thought that children with dyslexia who had reading problems read the letters and words in reverse. Dehaene has shown that a young reader tends to confuse letter direction. Children need to  discover that a “d” and a “b” are not the same despite the fact that they have a line and a circle at the base.   The question when attempting to comprehend kids with dyslexia, is whether the visual word structure is working the same way when kids battle to figure out how to read or to read fluently. Previous blog entries have examined how most kids determined to have dyslexia show issues with the capacity to perceive speech sounds, the other portion of the “sound to letter” correspondence limit. Be that as it may, are there additionally issues with identifying letters visually? Dr. Dehaene research indicates  that there are also problems with visual recognition of letters. Visual versus Auditory – Does it matter for dyslexia? The human mind develops numerous abilities. As we know well, most kids effectively figure out how to walk and talk with no explicit instruction. What a large number of us don’t understand is that the human brain was not intended to read. The alphabet is only 4,000 years of age and yet the anthropologists say homo sapiens has been on earth for 200,000 years. Indeed, even after standard alphabets appeared not very many adults could read or compose. Actually, it wasn’t until the 20th century before universal reading and compulsory teaching was introduced.   Stanislas Dehaene, one of the neuroscientists specialized in reading and maths in the brain has noted that to read we need to use parts of the brain that was designed for other use We can consider this as a sort of neurological borrowing – brain circuitry, particularly adjusted over hundreds of years for one reason, say for communicaition, to end up being used for reading. Luckily, the dialect and visual object recognition systems of the cerebrum becomes full grown in early pre-school years, and after that multitask in a manner to reconfigure for reading. To comprehend this mind reusing method, we should remind ourselves of what is required for reading. The English alphabet and reading requires that we combine the speech sounds of our dialect,  the phonemes, with the letters, graphemes. This “sound-letter (or phoneme-grapheme) correspondence” requires two limits – the capacity to identify speech sounds rapidly and precisely and then process letters rapidly and precisely. Dr. Dehaene discusses this in an article entitled “Inside the Letter Box”.   As indicated by Dr. Dehaene, “letter box” which is the visual word structure region of the brain, is situated in the region area at the base of the visual part of the brain (the occipital lobe) in the left side of the hemisphere. It is known as the “letter box” as a result of the fact that it demonstrates more stimulation to written words and not by other kinds of visual patterns (like places, faces). The letter box is situated in the same spot for everyone who can read. It is particularly housed in the areas of the occipital lobe, which are activated once we see faces or pictured objects. Dehaene and others have noted that if the “letter box” is harmed or separated from other brain areas by a stroke or other kind of limited cerebrum damage, the individual frequently loses the ability to read.   Dr. Dehaene pointely, states that the “letter box” doesn’t simply help us to perceive words. The letter box has other very complex capacities that are key for fluent reading. For instance, when a person is requested to figure out if the words composed as “READ” and read” are the same words,  it lights up first. Despite the fact that to most perusers of the this blog, that appears like a basic task, upper and lower case letters, for example, “B” and “b” or “G” and “g” or even “E” and “e” are not entirely similar in pattern and form. We need to figure out how to “consider” them to be the same letter, despite the fact that they are altogether different shapes. That doesn’t happen with other visual items – we absolutely never see a circle and a square as the same shapes or our spouse’s and his or her brother’s faces as the same. So letters are distinctive only in that way  – When we read from script letters and a wide range of handwriting styles, upper and lower case letters are recognized as the same. Dr. Dehaene, and his colleagues in a recent brain imaging research report in the journal Neuroimage confirmed, great readers demonstrate a well-developed visual word structure area (the letter box). Dyslexics, then again, demonstrated no such specialization for written words. Children who are struggling to read not only have problems perceiving the sounds within the words, but also have problems recognizing the letters.  – At any rate the “letter box” part of the brain is not reacting the way it does in normal readers.     Children need to discover that that’s a word is not an item, and that the inner subtle element of a word is as essential as the outline. The words House and Horse are different in pronunciation and meaning, although they look a great deal alike at first look, yet the distinction in the third letter makes an immense difference. Children take time to figure this out – however, it doesn’t mean they have dyslexia. It appears that both sides of the reading equation are important – auditory/linguistic and visual. Research in the last couple of decades has shown that children with dyslexia  have problems with sound-related perceptual, language components of reading and  phonological awareness.   New research focuses on the significance of reading interventions that enhance all segments of reading disorders: visual letter recognition, auditory perception, language skills and phonological awareness. The new research likewise indicates the significance that has evidence-based information revealing the overlap with the intervention components and the underlying brain structural changes. The intervention designed by neuroscience like Fast ForWord has examined adults and children with dyslexia by utilizing  brain imaging  technology. It is helpful because it shows when the activation of the brain area increases and the link to reading test gains.   Elise Temple and her partners performed such a study, utilizing fMRI really demonstrated that with kids who were determined to have dyslexia, the Fast ForWord Language program really expanded activity in language regions and also the visual word structure area.

Suggested readings

Dehaene, S. (2013) Inside the Letterbox: How Literacy Transforms the Human Brain. Cerebrum. May-June:7. Published online 2013 Jun 3. Monzalvo, Fluss, Billard, Dahaene, & Dehaene-Lambertz, (2012).  Cortical networks for vision and language in dyslexic and normal children of variable socio-economic status. Neuroimage, 61 (2012) 258-274 Temple, E., Deutsch, G. K., Poldrack, R. A., Miller, S.L., Tallal, P., Merzenich, M. M., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2003). Neural deficits in children with dyslexia ameliorated by behavioral remediation: Evidence from functional MRI. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(5), 2860-2865. Get Your Free Paper on Reading Difficulties

The Ability to Learn


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.


Mike Merzenich, Norman Doidge, Fast ForWord

The Brain That Changes Itself – Norman Doidge interviews Mike Merzenich.

Click Here to Get Your Free Chapter

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?




Dr. Michael MerzenichMike 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 JournalTimeWired, 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, Brain Plasticity,

“Soft-Wired is one of the most important books on health and aging ever written…




“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