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Robert Bilder: We are embarking on the next stage of human evolution

Robert Bilder

Robert Bilder, PhD

What is your cur­rent job title and orga­ni­za­tion, and what excites you the most about work­ing there?
I’m the Ten­nen­baum Fam­ily Pro­fes­sor of Cre­ativ­ity Research at UCLA’s Semel Insti­tute for Neu­ro­science & Human Behav­ior. The Semel Insti­tute and UCLA over­all are amaz­ing places to be involved in highly col­lab­o­ra­tive trans-disciplinary research.

Please tell us about your inter­est in applied brain sci­ence. What areas are you most inter­ested in? What moti­vated you to pur­sue work in your field?
I’m a clin­i­cal neuro-psychologist inter­ested in under­stand­ing how we can deploy new neu­ro­science knowl­edge to change our brains. I believe we are embark­ing on the next stage of human evo­lu­tion!

What is one impor­tant thing you are work­ing on now, and where can peo­ple learn more about it?

We are just start­ing a new study of “Big C” Cre­ativ­ity, sup­ported by the John Tem­ple­ton Foun­da­tion, and will be exam­in­ing the brains and cog­ni­tive func­tions of inter­na­tion­ally renowned visual artists and sci­en­tists. Sharp­Brains read­ers and learn more here.

What are 1–2 key things you’d like every per­son to under­stand regard­ing his/ her own brain and mind, that you think is com­monly mis­rep­re­sented or not addressed in the pop­u­lar media?

I wish we could dis­place all the myths about the dif­fer­ences between the left and right hemi­spheres, which I believe ends up being mis­rep­re­sented a lot. Instead, I wish more peo­ple knew about the “dorsal-ventral” dis­tinc­tion in the human cor­tex, which is a cor­ner­stone of evo­lu­tion­ary devel­op­ment of the mam­malian brain, and helps explain a great deal about the bal­ance of sta­bil­ity and flex­i­bil­ity in men­tal and emo­tional processing.

Where do you see clear “low-hanging fruit” to enhance behav­ioral and brain health based on neu­ro­science and inno­va­tion?
Basic plan­ning and orga­ni­za­tional tools are not as well rec­og­nized as they should be; these are some of the most pro­found ways we know to “gear up” our frontal lobes. It seems like new tech­nolo­gies are focus­ing more on stream­ing ever-greater vol­umes into our pos­te­rior cor­tices (through our sen­sory sys­tems) and we could ben­e­fit from focus­ing more on tools to enhance our out­puts and pro­duc­tiv­ity!

What would you like the 2013 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit to accom­plish?

It will be great to hear everyone’s lat­est and great­est thoughts as progress in the field is accel­er­at­ing. Also I hope every­one will share freely what is NOT work­ing so that we can avoid the “peak of inflated expec­ta­tions” in the “hype cycle” and keep expec­ta­tions realistic.

Finally, what do YOU do to stay sharp?
I’ve been mon­i­tor­ing my activ­ity with a Fit­Bit, and am always try­ing out new orga­ni­za­tional soft­ware to achieve IBZ and GTD (“in box zero” to “get things done”); the hope is by pro­mot­ing my cog­ni­tive con­trol I can make up for my dete­ri­o­rat­ing mem­ory. Most impor­tant, I’ve got a wife and twin 11-year old kids to keep me on my toes!

2013 SharpBrains SummitThis con­ver­sa­tion is part of a new inter­view series with Speak­ers and Par­tic­i­pants in the upcom­ing 2013 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit (Sep­tem­ber 19-20th). You can reg­is­ter with a 20% dis­count using pro­mo­tional code: sharp2020

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