Changing brains

04 November 2011

Professor Winston Byblow, an expert in movement neuroscience, will deliver his inaugural lecture as professor at The University of Auckland on Thursday 10 November. He will discuss brain plasticity – the ability of the brain to change and make new connections – and the potential of brain stimulation to promote plasticity.

“Brain plasticity refers to our brain’s lifelong ability to adapt, forming the basis for memory, learning, and re-learning following injury,” Professor Byblow explains. “For more than twenty years human brain plasticity has been investigated extensively using various types of noninvasive brain stimulation, leading to a wealth of scientific literature.”

Professor Winston Byblow and collaborators have used brain stimulation techniques to produce novel insights into neurological conditions affecting movement and its recovery. In this lecture he will discuss how brain stimulation has led to improved predictions of an individual’s potential for recovery after stroke and the subsequent innovative ways to improve recovery.

“The potential of stimulation does not begin or end with stroke - brain stimulation can improve learning, and can make young healthy people even smarter,” he says. “However, it’s worth remembering that brain plasticity can occur for better or worse. This new frontier promises to enhance our sensory, motor and cognitive abilities. Now the challenge is not ‘can we?’ but ‘should we?’”

Professor Byblow is Director of the Movement Neuroscience Laboratory in the Department of Sport and Exercise Science. He leads a research team that examines the neural control of movement in health and disease, including ways to enhance motor recovery after stroke and improve the movement abilities of people with movement disorders.

Professor Byblow’s talk is part of The University of Auckland’s 2011 Inaugural Lectures for new professors. It will be held in in room 732.201 at the Tāmaki Innovation Campus from 7pm on Thursday 10 November, with refreshments in function room 730.220 from 6pm. It is open to the public and free of charge, and anyone is welcome to attend.