Dalai Lama commences visit to Birmingham at UAB scientific symposium

A UAB scientist participated in a panel with other brain plasticity experts and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Written by: Katherine Shonesy
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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama hosted a dialogue at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Saturday, Oct. 25, alongside leading experts in the brain’s healing power and how the brain changes.

The “Neuroplasticity and Healing” forum featured the Dalai Lama and prominent scientists known for expertise in brain plasticity, or changes in how the brain works due to modifications in behavior, environment, neural processes, thinking and emotions, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury.

UAB is home to the Taub Training Clinic, which treats patients who have suffered from strokes or traumatic brain injury, using a novel family of therapies developed by Edward Taub, Ph.D. Taub, a behavioral neuroscientist, developed this new family of techniques, termed constraint-induced movement therapy, or CI therapy, which has been shown to be effective in improving the rehabilitation of movement after stroke and other neurological injuries. The therapies center around the practice of teaching the brain to “rewire” itself following a major injury.

Taub lent his expertise in this area while serving on the panel with the Dalai Lama.

“We were grateful for the opportunity to hold this discussion with His Holiness,” Taub said. “As a scholar and a monk, the Dalai Lama is highly attuned to how the brain works and helps to heal the body, and his comments on the topic were invaluable to learn.”

During the dialogue, the Dalai Lama commented on and discussed the research and treatments developed by Taub and Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, which are based on the plasticity of the brain.

The event was moderated by Norman Doidge, M.D., author of the best-selling popular account of neuroplasticity, “The Brain That Changes Itself.” Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D., authority on Buddhism and Tibetan language and culture, served as interpreter for the Dalai Lama.

The symposium was held in conjunction with Birmingham Human Rights Week. The Dalai Lama will cap off the week with a public appearance at Regions Field on Sunday, Oct. 26.

For those interested in seeing the Dalai Lama in person, tickets for the City of Birmingham events are available online.