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Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

My Stroke of Insight, a Top 20 TED Talk

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist who experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain in 1996. On the afternoon of this rare form of stroke (AVM), she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. It took eight years for Dr. Jill to completely recover all of her functions and thinking ability. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey (published in 2008 by Viking Penguin). In 2008, Dr. Jill gave a presentation at the TED Conference in Monterey, CA, which has become the second most viewed TED Talk of all time. This now famous 18-minute presentation catapulted her story into the public eye. As a result, she was chosen as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008. In addition, Dr. Jill was the premiere guest on Oprah’s Soul Series web-cast and was interviewed by Oprah and Dr. Oz on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2008.

Dr. Jill is working on the creation of a serious game for health for neurological recovery. She feels passionate about helping others find their way back from neurological trauma. In addition, she is working on her next book and is excited about the upcoming feature film of her life. She has just created Jill Bolte Taylor BRAINS, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational services and promoting programs related to the advancement of brain awareness, appreciation, exploration, education, injury prevention, neurological recovery, and the value of movement on mental and physical health, as well as other activities that support this purpose. The Brain Extravaganza! is the not-for-profits first educational awareness program she is bringing to the the community of Bloomington, Indiana, and then the world.

Dr. Jill is the National Spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (Harvard Brain Bank) and educates the public about the shortage of brain tissue donated for research into the severe mental illnesses. Since 1993, she has been an active member of NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) and is currently the president of the NAMI Greater Bloomington Area affiliate in Bloomington, Indiana.

A trained and published neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill’s specialty was in the postmortem investigation of the human brain as it relates to schizophrenia and the severe mental illnesses. Because she has a brother who has been diagnosed with the brain disorder schizophrenia, Dr. Taylor served for three years on the Board of Directors of National NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) between 1994-1997. (Currently she serves as President of the Greater Bloomington Affiliate of NAMI in Bloomington, Indiana.)

Because there is a long term shortage of brain tissue donated for postmortem research by individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, Dr. Taylor travels as the National Spokesperson for the Mentally Ill for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (Harvard Brain Bank) located at McLean Hospital. As the Singin’ Scientist, Dr. Taylor delivers a very popular keynote address titled “How To Get Your Brain To Do What You Want It To Do.”

But as irony would have it, on December 10, 1996, Dr. Taylor woke up to discover that she was experiencing a rare form of stroke, an arterio-venous malformation (AVM). Two and a half weeks later, on December 27, 1996, she underwent major brain surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to remove a golf ball size blood clot that was placing pressure on the language centers in the left hemisphere of her brain.

It took eight years for Dr. Taylor to successfully rebuild her brain – from the inside out. In response to the swelling and trauma of the stroke, which placed pressure on her dominant left hemisphere, the functions of her right hemisphere blossomed. Among other things, she now creates and sells unique stained glass brains when commissioned to do so. In addition, she published a book about her recovery from stroke and the insights she gained into the workings of her brain.  The New York Times bestselling memoir is titled My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey.

In February 2008, Dr. Taylor gave a presentation at the prestigious TED Conference. A video of that presentation was posted on the TED website which was immediately viewed by millions of people around the world. The response to the video launched Dr. Taylor into becoming a highly sought-after public speaker. She was chosen by TIME  Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008 and was the premiere guest on Oprah’s Soul Series web-cast. In addition, she was interviewed by Oprah and Dr. Mehmet Oz on The Oprah Winfrey Show in October, 2008.

Dr. Taylor now serves as the CEO of My Stroke of Insight, Inc. and as the Chairman of the Board of the not-for-profit Jill Bolte Taylor BRAINS, Inc. She is working on the creation of a Serious Game for Health for neurological recovery as she feels passionate about helping others find their way back from neurological trauma. In addition, she is working on her next book and is excited about the upcoming feature film of her life. She has just created Jill Bolte Taylor BRAINS, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational services and promoting programs related to the advancement of brain awareness, appreciation, exploration, education, injury prevention, neurological recovery, and the value of movement on mental and physical health, as well as other activities that support this purpose. She travels extensively as a keynoter at conferences around the world and is having a wonderful time helping others learn more about their own brains and how to realize that peace really is just a thought away.

About her presentations…
Dr. Taylor is one of those rare speakers who can keep an audience perched on the edge of their seats for over 90 minutes. Dr. Jill projects an amazing positive energy and is committed to educating everyone about the beauty and resiliency of the human brain. She keynotes with the single intention of helping her audience walk away with a better understanding of what is going on inside their heads and how they can get their brain to do what they want it to do. She is a true advocate for the neuroplasticity of the brain and its ability to recover from trauma.

Dr. Jill explains in terms everyone can understand how our brain organizes information and what the differences are between our right and left cerebral hemispheres. She firmly believes that the most important relationship we each have is the relationship between our logical, rational, verbal left brain, and its counterpart – our creative, intuitive, thinking in pictures right hemisphere. Dr. Jill helps us understand how our two brains work together to create a single seamless perception of reality, and what is going on inside our heads when we experience personal conflict.

When groups who live or work together hear Dr. Jill speak, there is a shift in the overall understanding about what is going on when people exhibit behavior that is not conducive to team building. Everything changes when we know other people are evaluating our behavior based on our brain anatomy. Entire groups of people learn how to interact with one another both respectfully and effectively.

Dr. Jill loves keynoting and is a master at tailoring her presentation to the interest and skill-set of the audience. Regardless of who she is speaking to – corporate leaders, medical professionals, government officials, or the lay public, Dr. Jill believes we all have much more power over what is going on inside our heads than we were ever taught. Her fascination and love of the human brain is contagious as she clarifies how any of us can embrace and exert the life force power we innately are.

People walk away from these presentations looking at themselves through a much more open and compassionate filter. When we understand who is who inside each of our hemispheres, we can learn to recognize those skill-sets within ourselves and in others. Dr. Jill helps us see that we each really do have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world. It’s not that hard when you know what you are looking for. Peace truly is just a thought away.

As an “Advocate for Humanity,” Dr. Jill is a compassionate motivational speaker who speaks from her heart, both as a well sibling of a brother who has been diagnosed with the brain disorder schizophrenia and as a neuroscientist who recovered her own mind from a debilitating stroke (AVM) which initially rendered her completely disabled.

Dr. Jill has dedicated her career to the advancement of research into the human brain and neurological recovery from trauma. Her passion is to educate everyone about the fragile, yet resilient nature of this incredible organ. By sharing her science and her unique personal journey, she communicates a message of hope, education, and celebration in a way that people can truly understand, and they walk away not only moved but shifted in their perception of who they are in the world and what they are doing with their power.

Presentation topics include:

– “My Stroke of Insight” with a focus on the content of Dr. Jill’s book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey.

– “How to Get Your Brain To Do What You Want It To Do” with a focus on how we can create a healthy environment for the cells making up our brain so they can exhibit optimal health and performance.

– “Who’s Who Inside of You?” with a focus on identifying the two very different personalities, talents, and skill-sets within each of our hemispheres with the intention of developing our ability to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world.

– “90 Seconds to Happiness” with a focus on understanding how the choices we make and the thoughts we think directly influence our level of joy.