The Neuroanatomical Transformation of the Teenage Brain: Jill Bolte Taylor at [email protected]


Thank you everyone. I have brought for you a human brain. So this is a real human brain. When I look at this brain, I am reminded that we are neurocircuitry. We are neurocircuitry,
and every ability we have is because we have cells
that perform that function. We know more about the human brain
than we’ve ever known before. We’ve learned things
in the last 10 to 20 years –most of your life span– that has completely shifted the way neuroscientists think about this organ
and our relationship with it. When I was in school
back in the 80s, we were taught that the brain cells you were born with
are the brain cells you’ll die with, and you are not going to get
anymore along the way. We do know that our brain
is capable of growing some new neurons, and this is neurogenesis. We are capable of growing new neurons,
particularly in response to trauma. In addition, neuroplasticity,
is the ability of our brain cells to rearrange
who they are communicating with. What this means, is that the brain
you woke in with this morning, is not identical to the brain that you
are going to take home with you tonight. In addition, we understand
that we are capable of mindfulness. Mindfulness is our ability to observe the neurocircuitry
we are running inside of our heads. But on top of simply observing
in our neurocircuitry, we are capable of changing
our thoughts and changing our brain. We have the ability to pick and choose
what’s going on inside of our heads. We typically run
three types of neurocircuitry. We think thoughts, we stimulate emotions and feel emotions, and we run physiological responses to what we are thinking
and what we are feeling. I have the ability to think a thought, stimulate an emotional circuit, and then run a physiological response
to what I am thinking.>From the moment I think of a thought
that stimulates my anger circuit, to the time that I run
my physiological response where I down noradrenalin
into my blood stream, it flashes through me
and flashes out of me.>From the beginning of the thought, to the time when my blood
is clean of that chemistry, takes less than 90 seconds. I called this the 90-second rule. How many of you
have the ability to stay angry for longer than 90 seconds. What you are doing, is you are rethinking the thought
that is restimulating the anger circuit, which is restimulating
the physiological response, and we can stay mad for days. The bottom line is, I am neurocircuitry.
We are neurocircuitry. My neurocircuitry is my neurocircuitry, and you do not have the ability to stimulate and trigger my circuitry
without my permission. You cannot make me angry, unless I stick my trigger out there for you to pound on and stimulate
my neurocircuitry. If I give you the power
to trigger my neurocircuitry, then I have given you my power. And if I give you my power,
then I become vulnerable to you through manipulation, through advertising,
through marketing. through peer pressure and through abuse. Bottom line is, we are neurocircuitry. We are these incredible celled brain
filled with these beautiful cells. So how does it work? Stimulation streams in
through our sensory systems. It integrates and organizes
as it passes up the spinal cord, and it aims for the outer portion
of our brain, the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is divided
into two different groups of cells. Our outer layers,
for a higher cognitive thinking, and our inner layers, for emotion. So information streams in
through our sensory systems, and it aims directly for the inner group
of cells of our limbic system. And the cells in the limbic system
are asking the question, moment by moment, “Am I safe?” “Am I safe?” I feel safe when enough of the information
streaming in through the sensory systems feels familiar. When the world feels familiar,
my amygdala is calm, and I feel safe. The interesting thing is that as information comes in
and it stimulates my limbic system, my limbic system
then sends that information throughout my nervous system,
including my higher cortex. What this means is that, although many of us may think of our cells
as thinking creatures who feel, biologically, we really are
feeling creatures who think. We are feeling creatures who think; and this becomes significant
in the way we live in the external world. Information streams in,
goes straight to the amygdala; the amygdala says how much feels familiar, and if it feels familiar,
then I feel calm. When I feel calm, the cells
right next to that, the hippocampus, turn on and they are capable
of learning and memory. But let’s say that, all of the sudden,
the building starts to shake. [If] that happens,
your amygdala goes unfamiliar, “Alert, alert, self preservation!”,
you bolt out the door, shut down the hippocampus and don’t care
what I have to say anymore, right? A great example about the relationship
between the amygdala and the hippocampus, is test anxiety. We all know what it feels like
to have that knot inside of our belly and then our throats get tight and our brains feel like they are going
to explode, everything is moving so fast: “Alert, alert, panic, panic,
anxiety, anxiety, oh my gosh!” But the secret here is
that I have a higher cortical thinking. I have the ability to consciously choose: “OK, I have other circuits I can run,
I can turn on my higher cortical mind, I can bring my mind to the present moment,
I can look around, take new pictures, I can see I am safe, I am safe,
and I am not going to die. It’s just an exam and I’ve prepared for it
and I know some of these answers.” If my amygdala would just calm enough so that I could access that information
in my hippocampus, then I could answer the questions. So this is what’s going on. Everything that has anything
to do with anything is our relationship between the amygdala and the hippocampus. This is really important news;
big news, big news, we didn’t know this. My generation, and generations before me,
we did not know about the 90-second rule, and we did not understand
the neurocircuitry of the brain. So, all you have to do, is open up
the newspaper and you will see someone has killed someone
because someone’s amygdala was on alert. Somebody’s divorcing somebody
because somebody did not feel safe. Everything has something to do
with the amygdala, and I think we should all wear shirts that say,
“I love my amygdala.” (Laughter) “I love my amygdala.” What is going on with the teenage brain? How many of you have had
a parent or an adult say something like this to you
in the last few years: “I just don’t recognize you anymore.
What happened to my little angel?” How many of you have had that? There is a biological reason for that. How many of you have had
a parent or an adult say something like: “I don’t understand you!
You used to love to do this all the time, I bought you this but you don’t use it,
I don’t get it, what’s going on?” There is a biological reason for that. How many of you have had a parent
or an adult saying something to you like: I’m just really not very comfortable
with your new friends.” Yeah! There is a reason
for that. We are biology. So, what’s going on? We are born with twice as many neurons
as we are ever going to use. Isn’t that nice we are born
with an abundance of cells? And then, the next two to three years,
the neurons that are stimulated will connect with other neurons
in neurocircuitry, and the cells that are not stimulated,
will die away. And then, for the next couple
of years, ten years or so, I’m pretty much about me, right?
It’s all about me, little Jill. I got this new body, I am trying
to figure out how to get the body to work, eventually, it’s going to hop,
skip and jump, and then, I am going to learn
about communication. How to pick a voice out
from background sound, how to make sound, how to place
meaning on sound. Then, I am going to get socialized
with little people my size, and my siblings and the adult world, but, it is pretty much all about me. Then, you put me in school, where
I will learn more about communication, about spelling, reading and writing. I’m going to learn about
mathematics and abstract thinking. And if I am lucky,
I am going to be exposed to music, the arts and technologies and all kinds of interesting things
that will stimulate me. But ultimately, it’s all about me. Well, somehow, our one obligation to our species
as a biological creature, is reproduction. So somehow, we have to get ourselves
out of the ‘me-me-me’ into the, “Oh, aren’t you cute?” (Laughter) In order to do that,
during the pre-puberty years, the brain goes through
what we called an exuberance of the dendritic connections
inside of our brains. And these little people, if you know them
couple years right before puberty hits, they are really, really smart,
little sponges looking for information. They are curious about everything,
they want to know, and how they want to know why,
and just want to understand it all. Then, their bodies are prepared
for puberty. And then puberty comes. And with puberty comes
several major shifts. One of the first ones is we are going to go through
a major physical growth spurt. When we are going through
a major physical growth spurt, our entire body changes. It changes and it’s not as agile, so our amygdala is on a little bit
of alert, which is interesting, but it’s a little bit of alert,
“What’s going on?” And on top of that, then we are going to have
our hormonal systems, they are going to start flowing
through our body, and with that are going to come
all kinds of mood swings and all kinds of interesting behaviors. On top of that, there is going to be
what we called a pruning back. A pruning back of 50%
of the synaptic connections inside of our brain. We literally lose half of our minds. (Laughter) We literally lose half of our minds. “How does that feel?” “Unfamiliar, unfamiliar. I used to know
all this stuff, it isn’t there anymore. I used to be interested in these things,
I used to look like something. I used to hang out with them,
now I am hanging out with this”. And then on top of it, on top of it: “Oh, my gosh, unfamiliar, unfamiliar!” We are going to grow
testosterone receptors on our amygdala. And when that comes: aggression! I feel a little aggressive. (Laughter) There are biological reasons
for the teenage years. There is biology underlying
everything you’re feeling, everything you’re thinking,
and everything you are experiencing. The last portion of the brain
to come totally aligned, is the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex
is responsible for things including our ability to plan ahead. It’s our impulse control. It’s our ability to understand
the consequences of our behavior. It’s the appropriateness of our behavior. So when our parents are looking at us, and we are bigger than they are, and it’s all unfamiliar
for everyone in the house, what’s going on? I haven’t reattached
my prefrontal cortex yet. There is a biological reason. The beauty, the wonderful thing
about the teenage years, is you have literally lost half your mind. Which half have you kept?
The one that you are going to use. You are going to walk, to talk,
to socialize, to do these things. My best advice to any teenager, is whatever you are good at
when you were young, that you want to do
in your 20s, 40s and 80s, do it throughout your teenage years. The teenage years is the time for you
to tend the garden of your mind. It’s your opportunity for you
to pick and choose who and how you want to be
when you get older. We technically become biological adults
at the age of 25. It’s when the long bones in our body
stop growing long. We are adults, development is over,
and the brain is now established. My advice to all parents
is keep them alive till 25. (Laughter) Keep your kids alive till they are 25. And to all of you teenagers,
keep them alive until 25; nurture the beautiful cells
inside your brain until you are 25, and then you will have
this gorgeous adult brain then you get to figure out
what you want to do with, later. So bottom line here,
we are feeling creatures who think. We are feeling creatures who think. Living in a left brain dominant society, where we value what we think
over what we feel, and where we reward people for what we do rather than who we are. We care about the “me”
rather than the “we,” we focus on personal gain,
rather than community, we care about profits rather than people. We strive for authority
rather than equality, we seek differences
rather than similarities, we are competitive
rather than compassionate, we are judgmental rather than forgiving. We are very left brain versus right brain. But we know that we have a choice. Our left brain dominant society
is using up our natural resources, and we are heating up the planet. We are in the middle
of a major global crisis. On top of this,
our left brain dominant society is eroding our self-value. We are in pain, because the world does not care
about what we feel and who we are, it cares about what we do
and what we think, which is not the basis of our biology. We are in the middle
of a major mental health crisis, where at least 25%
of the people in the [United] States are suffering from some type
of serious mental illness, and then you throw on top of that a whole bunch of people
who have addiction. We are in pain, so what do we do? We mask our pain with all kinds of things
that we can get addicted to. And virtually,
this just is not very healthy for these gorgeous cells inside our brain. The teenage brain is at the most vulnerable time
of our existence, because it is this time
for planting the seeds and planting who and how
you want to be in the world. When I experienced my stroke
and I lost my left brain, and I shifted into the consciousness
of my right mind, where I felt peace and euphoria, what gave me the courage to come back, was that I pictured a world
that was filled with beautiful, peaceful, compassionate, loving people. I pictured a world filled with people who knew that they could pick and choose
who and how they want to be in the world. You are that population. You are those people. You have the ability to pick and choose who and how you want to be in the world. I believe that those of you who are willing to create
a conscious relationship with your brain, you will be the leaders who will help guide humanity
back toward mental health, and you will be the game changers who help bring our planet back to balance. This is your brain. This is your brain. This is your instrument. This is your tool. And this is your power. What are you doing with your power? (Applause) Thank you!

100 thoughts on “The Neuroanatomical Transformation of the Teenage Brain: Jill Bolte Taylor at [email protected]

  1. Dear friends, does anyone know how to contact Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor? I want to write email her or become Facebook friend with her, she made me cried many times, she is my "mum".

  2. Very very interesting and informative; unfortunately, Dr. Jill has it only partially correct. The mind is not the brain and the mind doesn't direct the body. The reality is the mind and body work parallel. The mind is the idea of the body and the body is the object of the mind. You can find the complete idea as you study Spinoza's 'Ethic' which is the part two in the 'Ethics.' We are not just biological creatures our main focus should be the "MIND' for more info.. Lewis Almeida on Spinoza.

  3. Spinoza's "The Ethics" was written almost half a millenia before our advances in neuroscience. I don't think its relevant anymore.

  4. Lady — this is interesting stuff, but please stop cheerleading. Very off-putting after a while.

  5. After 40+ years of Spinoza's works and integrating his ideas I find that the authority of clarity can be obtained with real inner work. Unfortunately, when one has an unusual experienced such as Dr. Jill, she tries to explain it through limited scientific theories and feelings. Science sees only what is in front of his or her lenses. The larger understanding must come from our intuition; unfortunately, it's not understood nor practice seriously. Again, take a look and examine Spinoza's Ethics

  6. "We are feeling creatures who think." Great. However, this talk does not take into account personality types nor child abuse. Some abuse can be very subtle but with grave consequences. If a child never learns how to trust because the people who brought them into this world were abusive through hitting or verbal abuse or neglect then how does that fit into this "robotic" framework? Sometimes the anger does last past 90 seconds for a very good reason & this needs to be addressed in our society.

  7. I liker her talk. However, you bring up a very good point. It's not like emotions in the present are merely derived from the present. Deep emotional pain can flavor every waking moment.
    Sadly, MDMA is illegal….despite being shown to increase a person's ability to let go of past emotional pain better than anything humans have ever come up with.
    One day the government will stop getting in the way of real human progress and empathy. One day…
    The day we stop voting in their favor….

  8. I feel comfort from this since I am a teenager who is going through these stages. I feel a bit more guided rather than roaming around for no reason. I am setting myself up for my adult years and it feels great just knowing all these problems that occur inside me as I develop. It organizes my problems into a set of lists that I can try to solve. Thanks Jill for the insight. (:

  9. Lewis Almeida, I agree with you.   My guess, neuroscientists know about the differences between the left and right hemispheres but their every attempt is predisposed to be a left brain approach.

  10. "Spinoza's "The Ethics" was written almost half a millenia before our advances in neuroscience. I don't think its relevant anymore."

    Not to neuroscience perhaps, humans still find that kind of insight and wisdom relates to a different type of understanding.

  11. To understand that we sentient mortals are feeling, thinking beings is central to our well being as humans, how we relate to others and what we value. Thank you Jill Bolte Taylor for helping me in my efforts to understand. 

  12. An absolute masterpiece. Very insightful and powerful as every educational material from her ever is. One day I will be fortunate enough to meet you, and display my Jill Bolte Taylor quote inspired tattoo.

  13. Our God is amazing since He has created this wonderful organ called BRAIN. The faith has an explanation in the natural world. The power of the mind that can be reflected in our will and in our actions. That's amazing

  14. Jill says that other's can't affect you without your permission, but I don't think that's true because responding to other people is so innate in us.  It's apart of being a social creature.  It's interesting how in her original ted talk (which I loved) she said she was the life force energy of the universe, and now she's parred that down to "you are neurology".

  15. I kinda wish her voice would come down a couple octaves…otherwise I could have listened to this longer.  haha   Tho' the brain, who can truly know it but God!  Give kids a good basis for adulthood, and don't ignore them, control them with intelligence not brut force, give them love NOT things… soon enough they will establish themselves in a manner that will be good for their survival.  Above all else, give them good scriptural information to build character and morality… and BE that yourself.  Practice what you preach.  It's a lot harder to BE what you believe in, and kids can see right through all the bull crap.

  16. well said… except for that bit where she said that WE are heating up the planet.  It is not you and it is not co2 that drives the climate.  It is the sun and chemtrails.

  17. Love this.. first one was better for my interests but everything you say intrigues me. Thank you for choosing to dedicate yourself to sharing your knowledge with the world, it has helped me tremendously and I'm sure I'm not alone.

  18. Jill is a materialist – she is blind to the fact that the values she speaks of exist in the invisible world of shared information that we, as conscious beings, create and live out our lives in: which I call the conceptual field  Nevertheless, her message is important.

  19. It's a bit disturbing that a person's entire life, personality, memories, knowledge, and wisdom has disappeared forever and it has become a useless blob of fat.

  20. excellent summary of the functional connect between specific areas of the developing brain and emotional changes over the teenage years.

  21. Awesome! it explains the espiritual hallucinations that man people has! The thing is: she had this hallucinations consciously about what was happening! that was the awesome thing about her experience!

  22. I love how smart she is and how she spoke to the audience as if they were intelligent beings. Most TV shows and YouTube videos, pretty much everything else is dumbing people down. This information was easy and natural to absorb. Unlike the lame commercials and crazy sex driven advertisement

  23. And this video was uploaded in 2013, omg, how i would like know back then what i know today. This video is just brilliant and connects with everything what i have been learning a changing myself in the last year.

  24. Thank God! for the Jill Bolte Taylors of the World! and TEDx for providing the platform for which they can share their impassioned experiences and knowledge!

  25. Thank you for making so much sense of the chaos we will know as the teenage years. I teach high school, this is a must watch for all my incoming freshman.

  26. WOW . . . I love this one, dear Dr. Jill. B. Tailor !!!!!! . . . Gonna post it on facebook and hopefully expect, that some people will understand it and and feel and think about it. 😉 . . . . and share it.
    Had been reading your book about the stroke two times and gave it away several times.
    Would love to have a german translation to this speech !

  27. Talking far, far, too fast & it's doing My Head IN ! It's Scrambled Eggs. She forgets, others cannot take all of this in & decipher it. oouuccch ! "Please CALM DOWN"

  28. "I am reminded that we are neurocircuitry," says Jill very early on here.

    Earlier, in her 2008 TED talk, Jill asks,

    "So, who are we?"

    She answers,

    "We are the life-force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds."

    Are we Life, itself, or ("the") Consciousness, itself? Are we Being, the "I Am?"

    Or are we just humans, just our brains?

    Or could it be that are we Life/Consciousness temporarily expressing itself in human form?

    Could it be that we are human beings?

    And could it be that we are now, in part thanks to the insights of people like Jill and like Eckhart Tolle, in transition?

    Namaste!

    Tom Kelly.

  29. The way she presents this keeps my nervous system charged, I feel anxious. 🙁 Pls present the info with calm, please…you are yelling…damn

  30. Even an expert needs skills on how to explain things to others. She causes anxiety in listeners, yells, speech is sped up and that blocks listening for a lot of us. This looks like a stressed out person you want to run from. Great info but she needs to learn how to deliver this crucial info. I'm listening for the 2nd time and it feels ever worse. CALM PLEASE

  31. Feeling creatures who think…therefore meaning is paramount to being. This reinforces the line of inquiry Jordan Peterson, not to mention neuroscience, has been advocating. And the relevant criticism of postmodern philosophy, etc. Without an intelligent and responsible approach to meaning, and it's place in the fundamental aspects of culture, we risk virtually everything. Diversity, inclusion, and equality are great aims…provided they are approached with authenticity and without ideological motivation, which more often than not is not the case.

  32. i am so sorry for the people who didnt attend this at the bulding. Looking at those empty chairs, Im like "I would copy and paste my self multiple times so all of Me(s) can watch her and discuss what we got just in case one of Me(s) missed some super important informations that she explained

  33. wish this talk had been around when I was a teenager in the midst of growing up….Could have saved me about a decade of all types of horrible things 🙁

  34. I've watched the previous Ted talk about your stroke. Your speech makes me understand my teenage daughter well. Thank you so much.

  35. All excellent stuff. I particularly liked the statement "we are not thinking creatures who feel; we are feeling creatures who think". I will definitely apply this to my own work. Martyn Richards.

  36. Strange for me how she fails to see the importance of both brain hemispheres. Trying to live only using right hemisphere would give you euphoria and full satisfaction with every minute, but you would't be able to live a day, because even concept of eating would be too complex (she said it herself that she was like a child in another presentation). Only left hemisphere, as we allready know, diminishes purpose and satisfaction of life when there's not much reason to live although there are all helping tools and technologies for it. Society is neither hemisphere, you can choose remote society with minimum hierarchy, like in Canada forest and you can satisfy your need for right hemisphere. City itself can only exist as a left hemisphere creation (hierarchy), otherwise you are left alone in the wild, which people allready do if they feel need to.

  37. Eu sou assim minha vida toda.. não tenho dificuldade para controlar meus medos.. na verdade tenho medo de praticamente nada.. ah eu tenho medo de morrer e não conhecer meus netos só isso

  38. Junho de 2014 eu sofri um AVCH gravíssimo no lado Direito e eu quando acordei do coma induzido em razão da cirurgia de risco que eu fiz.. não sabia absolutamente de nada que estava acontecendo.. qdo eu comecei a saber eu só me preocupei em saber quanto tempo demoraria para eu voltar a andar.. mas se eu não voltasse eu ia dá um jeito de me adaptar a cadeira de rodas.. as fisioterapeutas me disseram que era possível em uns 6 meses fiquei e tenho conseguido.. abril desse ano sofri um outro AVC dessa vez Isquêmico no Lado Direito novamente e não morri daí a limitação que o outro AVC deixou tem diminuído.. vergonha e medo não tenho nenhum pingo..

  39. The neural Circuit of the brain is in the Bible!!!! The Bible is all about the brain and this is why the people in charge of all those countries are playing with us for a long time then you all the brain was working a long time ago 5,000 years ago

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