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Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight


Here's a fascinating lecture from the TED talks series which was posted to their site this month. TED is an annual conference which brings together great minds in the worlds of Technology, Entertainment, and Design.

In this talk, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor discusses the day she realized that she was having a massive stroke and describes, as only a brain scientist can, how she experienced it and what she learned from it.

If you have 20 minutes to spare I recommend it.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. wow, that was really moving.

    Posted by: MW | Mar 24, 2008 8:07:33 PM

  2. That was incredible!

    Posted by: Allen Zbranek | Mar 24, 2008 8:25:42 PM

  3. That made me cry.

    Posted by: D.R.H. | Mar 24, 2008 8:38:12 PM

  4. What an amazing presenter! That's one very smart and engaging woman. Thanks for posting.

    Posted by: Gregus | Mar 24, 2008 8:59:24 PM

  5. That was a very powerful and poignant. I was in tears -- very inspiring.

    Posted by: Paul | Mar 24, 2008 9:19:58 PM

  6. Beautiful.

    Posted by: Daveeey | Mar 24, 2008 9:27:23 PM

  7. I saw this two weeks ago. Really amazing. Absolutely worth watching.

    Posted by: Iko | Mar 24, 2008 10:01:05 PM

  8. Thank you for sharing. Very moving. I look forward to viewing some of the other talks as well.

    Posted by: George | Mar 24, 2008 10:30:07 PM

  9. Thanks so very much for sharing that. I had a kind of a stroke 6 years ago, when a blood vessel inside the left hemisphere of my brain finally broke after growing out of control, undetected, for years; she gives voice to some of the things I felt during what I now recognize as a pre-stroke the week before, but could not until now explain.

    Posted by: John | Mar 24, 2008 11:38:14 PM

  10. Thanks for sharing this insightful and moving video. Anyone who has participated in Landmark Education or EST will surely relate to her experience about the dual minds. Thanks again!

    Posted by: joseph Schmitt | Mar 25, 2008 12:29:43 AM

  11. Holy shit - amazing. Can someone please help me out... The moral of her story is to spread peace and to think more collectively verus selfishly? - Just want to ensure I received the intended message not sure if it was up for interpretation/subjectiveness; Alas, there are a ton of smart people on this site. I'll wait for my answer off line hee hee I don't feel very deep at this moment :(

    Posted by: Kaz | Mar 25, 2008 12:33:11 AM

  12. Awesome.... it makes me realize that so many of the things I worry and fret about are nothing more than unimportant trivia.

    Posted by: k | Mar 25, 2008 12:47:22 AM

  13. Awesome.... it makes me realize that so many of the things I worry and fret about are nothing more than unimportant trivia.

    Posted by: k | Mar 25, 2008 12:48:57 AM

  14. We have a choice to place focus on the right hemisphere of our brain and develope the cognition that lies therein. It must be isolated to be fully realized, according to her experience. This is probably achievable through some form of meditation.

    Posted by: TooBoot | Mar 25, 2008 1:07:34 AM

  15. Whoa. Best 20 minutes I've spent in a long time.

    Posted by: ger | Mar 25, 2008 1:13:41 AM

  16. I've done the entire curriculum for living at Landmark. I see some of what was taught there as this kind of expansive thinking. what is interesting is that she would not have been able to express her experiences without the separation and then marriage of the two hemispheres. It is the ongoing conundrum of faith practice versus intellect and how are these rectified and utilized with equanimity

    Posted by: TooBoot | Mar 25, 2008 1:16:55 AM

  17. That is indeed amazing. I am thankful that she is still alive to share this experience which really makes people think about their lives as well. I love her presentation, engaging, emotional and sincere.

    Posted by: hamilton | Mar 25, 2008 2:04:40 AM

  18. wow- we operate in dual modes of being. we are energy expressed as matter, a continuous field of life. with an overlay experience of separate identity and free will, which empowers us to act as agents in this life field. pretty amazing when you consider the implications!

    Posted by: telyawot | Mar 25, 2008 3:45:25 AM

  19. As a scientist, I would have to say this talk veered too far into the metaphysical. I would have been more interested if Dr. Taylor had discussed how schizophrenia might be connected to the difference between the right brain's "nirvana" and the left brain's "little voice". Instead, the talk became more a feel-good motivation speech sacrifying substance for a rather mind-numbing mantra: "right brain good, left brain bad."

    Posted by: ken | Mar 25, 2008 4:45:36 AM

  20. I see what you're saying but I took it more to say that we all spend a little too much time using the left hemisphere of our brain and that we all need to get in touch with reality as seen through the right side of our brain. As opposed to saying the left hemisphere is bad, it's just overactive. People have been claiming to do just that through transcendental meditation for years and maybe this literal blow by blow recount of the way things look from the right side, can give some explanation of what we are striving for when we let go and meditate.

    Posted by: tom | Mar 25, 2008 6:52:36 AM

  21. This was forwarded around work (we're all scientists and engineers) a couple of weeks ago and I love it. A coworker of mine didn't get it, saying "[she] thought it was terrible how she describes dying." Totally missed the point!!

    Posted by: Shane | Mar 25, 2008 7:31:27 AM

  22. While I appreciate Dr. Taylor's personal "growth" experience for what it is: personal, and as sympathetic as I may be to the cause for greater humanity in human affairs (who isn' least in front of a camera), I remain, as I ever have been, indifferent to the hustle of shamans and charismatics, particularly those who would call science their profession, and who salt their speech with faith-based rhetoric.

    Next stop Oprah?

    Last year's panacea for ennui was "The Secret" so why not "Hemorrhage Your Way to Healing and Lick World Peace in Just One Stroke"? Only $19.98 at Free Shipping on orders over $19.99.

    Posted by: Gil | Mar 25, 2008 7:59:36 AM

  23. Rather than be cynical about the idea of faith, what Dr. Taylor's account brings forth is that what we have been calling 'God' or 'faith' or 'metaphysics' for that matter originates in the right hemisphere of the brain. In some ways she makes the argument for the evolutionary origins of how religious paradigms function biologically.

    Posted by: TOOBOOT | Mar 25, 2008 8:25:47 AM

  24. A cognitive explanation to a spiritual truth.

    Posted by: riem | Mar 25, 2008 9:43:26 AM

  25. I don't think she ever mentioned anything about god, faith or metaphysics. What I heard was her very real account of the loss of her "little-voice" left hemisphere. This left her able to experience her surroundings through one half of her brain, one half which is largely over-powered by the other. Isn't she saying that we'd all feel this same way had we experienced a stroke as well and that these sensations can be possible with practice? I think she was suggesting a little peace of mind not a new world faith.

    Posted by: D.R.H. | Mar 25, 2008 9:53:05 AM

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