Prof. Bruce Wexler

bruce_wexler

Prof. Bruce Wexler

Professor of Psychiatry
Yale University

Bruce E. Wexler is Professor of Psychiatry and a neuroscientist at Yale University. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard College, received his MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, studied psychiatry at Anna Freud’s Hampstead Clinic, neurology at Queen’s Square Institute of Neurology, and psychiatry at Yale. Author of over 125 scientific articles, Professor Wexler is a world leader in harnessing neuroplasticity to improve cognition and treat neuropsychiatric disorders through brain exercises. His work in the 1990’s was among the first in the world to show the benefits of this approach for people with neuropsychiatric disorders, and in 2000 he published results of a break-through study showing that computer-presented cognitive training could correct abnormalities in brain activation in adult patients. He and his colleagues subsequently developed neurocognitive training programs that are more effective than the best medications in treating geriatric depression and are similar to medicines in treating ADHD, both without any of the side effects of medication. He and colleagues developed the first program that integrates computerized brain exercises and physical exercises to improve executive cognitive function and learning ability in young children, a program in use by thousands of children in schools across the U.S. In a study of 500 second grade students, those who used the program showed greater improvements on school-administered tests of math and reading achievement than did control classes (www.nature.com/articles/srep32859). For those who have had limited cognitive stimulation before coming to school, the program is a “school lunch” program for the brain. Dr. Wexler’s book “Brain and Culture” presents new ideas about neuroplasticity and the relationship between people and their social and cultural environments (MIT Press).  Oliver Sacks called it “a major achievement, touching the deepest biological and human issues…a very powerful and very important book.” Professor Howard Gardner of Harvard called it “A pioneering and bold effort to construct a bridge between scientific findings about the brain and the diversity, strengths, and fragilities of human cultures.” The Chinese translation of “Brain and Culture” will be published by Zhejiang University Press in 2018. Dr. Wexler received an award from the Director of the U.S. National Institute of Health for high innovation, high impact potentially paradigm changing research. He received the Kempf Fund Award from the American Psychiatric Association for significant contributions to research on schizophrenia both as a researcher and a mentor. He is an advisor to the Kennedy Foundation Brain Futures initiative and has served as a member of the Kennedy Foundation Forum on Technology and Mental Health Innovations and the GE Brain Trust, and as a consultant for the Gates Foundation.

Theme: Psychosocial aspects of rehabilitation

Digital Neurotherapeutics in 21st Century Psychosocial Rehabilitation for People with Psychiatric and Neurologic Disabilities 

The brain supports the wide range of human cognitive and functional abilities through functional neurosystems that integrate the action of millions of neurons widely distributed across many brain regions. These systems dynamically reconfigure themselves to support different cognitive operations, and can do so in different ways in different contexts. The connections among neurons that create these functional systems are largely shaped and reshaped after birth by stimulation from the environment. New therapeutic methods harness this neuro-plastic potential to promote activity-dependent enhancement of under-functioning or injured neural systems, or promote development of compensatory neuroprocesses. These digital neurotherapeutics are computer-presented and internet-delivered, allowing highly individualized treatment, integrated treatment in both clinic and home settings, and regular assessment and monitoring of progress. Research has demonstrated effectiveness of these treatments for psychiatric disorders of depression, schizophrenia and ADHD, and for rehabilitation from stroke and other brain injuries.