Create Your Own Brain — Neuroscience, Addiction, and Designer Brains — with guest Dr. Alan Weissenbacher

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Are certain people born with an innate ability to be better at mathematics? Or the ability to play the piano beautifully? Do people with excellent spatial ability grow up to be taxi drivers or architects?

Or instead, do we have control over what our brains excel at? Can we choose our skills and decide how our brains develop, determining which areas of our brains to expand and which to let fade?

It turns out we have remarkable control over our brains. Our brains continue to develop life-long, cementing new connections continually. Even in old age, things like learning a new language or learning a musical instrument can have remarkable effects on our brain.

Understanding the brain also leads to insights in addiction. Why are some habits so hard to break? Why does the average addict need to enter rehab several times before being successful?

Today we talk to Dr. Alan Weissenbacher. Alan has worked with people suffering from addiction, helping them to recover, one person at a time. While working with these addicts, he wondered why some people were successful at quitting, while others were prone to relapse. This inspired his studies in neuroscience.

But his research go beyond addiction, and he provides insights that all of us can use. By knowing how certain habits develop, why certain emotions are tied to particular people or events, and by understanding how pathways are created in our brains, Alan points to ways that we can take control over our brains, from improving brain function in old age to finally kicking that bad habit.

You can find out more about Alan’s work at

You can listen to the podcast here.

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Science and technology are everywhere in our lives. This podcast takes a look not only at the science itself, but its role in society, how it affects our lives, and how it influences how we define ourselves as humans. Episodes also throw in a mix of culture, history, ethics, philosophy, religion, and the future! Hosted by Elizabeth Fernandez, an astronomer and science communicator. Let’s spark some dialog!

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