Stroke of Genius
What Brain Injury Reveals about Creativity, Consciousness, and the Mind-Body Connection
Salon Ballroom in the Stan Fulton Building at UNLV
Thursday, November 12, 7 p.m.
audio download: mp3 | m4a
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About the Event

Our brains make us uniquely human and uniquely ourselves. So what happens when the brain is injured? And what would we see if we looked beyond the simple idea of "damage?"

The Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute is pleased to host a panel discussion entitled "Stroke of Genius: What Brain Injury Reveals about Creativity, Consciousness, and the Mind-Body Connection." Esteemed visiting writers and a knowledgeable moderator will engage in a public conversation about the brain, specifically how the experience of brain injury or dysfunction allows a glimpse into the mysterious neurological components of creativity, empathy, personality, and the boundaries of the self.

The panel participants will approach these and other questions from different disciplinary and aesthetic perspectives. Guests include science writers Sandra Blakeselee and George Johnson, neurologist Dr. Bruce Miller, and fiction writer and memoirist Floyd Skloot. The discussion will be moderated by BMI's executive director and author Joshua Wolf Shenk.

About the Panel

Sandra Blakeslee is a science correspondent for The New York Times who specializes in the neurosciences. In 1995, Blakeslee and George Johnson, a New York Times colleague began the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop. Blakeslee is coauthor of four books on the brain: Phantoms in the Brain with V.S. Ramachandran; On Intelligence with Jeff Hawkins; Sleights of Mind: What Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions with Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde; and The Body Has a Mind of Its Own, with Matthew Blakeslee, her son.

Dr. Bruce Miller holds the A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professorship in Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. His work in frontotemporal dementia emphasizes the behavioral and emotional deficits experienced by patients as well as the visual creativity that can emerge for some. He is the principal investigator of the NIH-sponsored Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and a project called Frontotemporal Dementia: Genes, Imaging and Emotions. For more than three decades, he has been the scientific director for The John Douglas French Alzheimer's Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that funds research in Alzheimer's disease. He also works with the NFL to help with player brain health. He is the author of The Human Frontal Lobes, The Behavioral Neurology of Neurology, Frontotemporal Dementia, and over 600 other publications regarding dementia.

George Johnson writes regularly about science for The New York Times, including the monthly column Raw Data. He has also written for National Geographic, Slate, Discover, Scientific American, Wired, and The Atlantic. His work has been included in The Best American Science Writing. A former Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, he has received awards from PEN and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and his books were twice finalists for the Royal Society's book prize.

Floyd Skloot is the author of several books of fiction as well as In the Shadow of Memory, a book of essays about his life after experiencing brain damage caused by a virus in 1988; the collection was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award as well as a finalist for the PEN Award for the Art of the Essay. His work has appeared in The Best American Essays, Best American Science Writing, Best Spiritual Writing, Best Food Writing, The Art of the Essay, and In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction, among other anthologies.

Joshua Wolf Shenk (moderator) is a journalist, essayist, editor, teacher, and literary innovator. As BMI's executive director, Shenk brings experience in nearly every aspect of the world of letters. He is the author of the national bestseller Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity and the acclaimed Lincoln's Melancholy. Shenk is the creator of the Erikson Prize for Mental Health Media and the director of Arts in Mind, a conversation series on the intersections of the arts and psychology. His own essays have been published in Harper's, The New York Times, and The Atlantic, which featured his 2009 cover story "What Makes Us Happy?"

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