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Ian Robertson, PhD

Dr. Ian Robertson speaking in front of bright white background, landscape. T Boone Pickens Distinguished Chair, Center for BrainHealth; Co-Leader, the Brainhealth Project.

T. Boone Pickens Distinguished Chair Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project

Dr. Ian Robertson is a leading researcher on how we can harness the mind’s attention systems to maximize the brain’s capacity to reshape itself to give every person a sense of control over their own emotions and cognitive function.
His best-selling books include How Confidence Works, which brings this science to the non-specialist.
Ian Robertson's printable bio

Key Research and Publications

By studying the attention systems of the brain and their relationship to neurotransmitter systems, in particular the norepinephrine/locus ceruleus system, I have been able to develop effective cognitive training methods for a range of disorders ranging from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to schizophrenia and from traumatic brain injury to the aging brain. My lab was the first to show that it is possible to measure norepinephrine (NE) activity in the waking human brain using pupillometry, which is important because of the critical role of NE in brain plasticity in general, and the development of "cognitive reserve" in particular. I published an influential theory of cognitive reserve showing that NE activity may mediate the diverse correlates of the hypothetical construct ‘cognitive reserve, including education level, mental stimulation, novelty, social networks and IQ.

More Information

How Stress Makes Us Sharper

An eminent neuroscientist and founder of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Dr. Robertson has authored many books based on the pressures of everyday life – his 2016 book, The Stress Test, has been sold widely across the world.
He contributes regularly to Nature and the Journal of Neuroscience.

The Era of the Mind

In 2019, Dr. Ian Robertson, Professor Emeritus in Psychology in Trinity College Dublin and Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute, presented the 27th Carmichael Lecture for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Titled "The Era of the Mind," Dr. Robertson's talk addresses the topic of human potential, and proposes that information and technology, tools dominated by the human mind, are emerging as the currency of a new era.

Perfect Cities? The Winner Effect

A neuroscientist and trained clinical psychologist, Ian Robertson is Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, and formerly Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge. His research focusses on the neuropsychology of brain rehabilitation and attention and he is passionate about improving independent living in older people by delaying dementia. A former science writer for the London Times and author of popular-science books Mind Sculpture, The Mind's Eye, and The Winner Effect, Robertson is also a Science Gallery Leonardo and was a curator for PAY ATTENTION and HAPPY?

The Confidence Trick

Suppose we discover something that could make us richer, healthier, longer-living, smarter, kinder, happier, more motivated and more innovative. Ridiculous, you might say … but, in fact, we already have. What is this elixir? Confidence. If you have it, it can empower you to reach heights you never thought possible, but if you don’t, it can have a devastating effect, despite your objective achievements. Confidence affects every emotion and thought in our mind, every neuron in our brain, every ounce of our motivation and each action in our daily life. Above all, confidence is about predicting success – whether that is in sinking a putt at golf, giving that public talk or re-calibrating one’s life after an unhappy breakup. And here is the good news: confidence can be learned.

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