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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.

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.

EEG Electrical simulation and measure; Man in EEG headset

The Peripheral Effect of Direct Current Stimulation on Brain Circuits Involving Memory

Activation of the noradrenergic pathway to the hippocampus modifies functional connectivity, supporting the consolidation of a memory event.

Happy woman wearing headphones working on laptop. IStockID# 1218223744.

A Novel BrainHealth Index Prototype Improved by Telehealth-delivered Training During COVID-19

This groundbreaking study establishes a holistic, personalized measure of brain fitness (the BrainHealth® Index) and training protocols with the potential to revolutionize global health.

A man's silhouette stands in a huge study and a computer code unfolds in front of him. IStockID# 949716854.

A Brain Capital Grand Strategy: Toward Economic Reimagination

Brain capital is a key component in shaping economic resilience, linked to our digitalized, globalized, complex, and interconnected yet fragile global economy. The time is now to catalyze a Grand Strategy for Brain Capital.

A relaxed young man is with a dog on the grass in a public park located in Prague, Czech Republic. Happy, content, in nature.

The Powerful Alchemy of the Brain

May 29, 2020 - The way we manage our thoughts can literally change the neurochemistry within our brain to make it healthier.

Brain Capital Fuels our NEW Brain Economy

September 22, 2020 - The concept of brain capital encompasses both brain health and performance as key contributors to thrive in this new brain economy.

More Information

How Stress Makes Us Sharper

Dr. Robertson is an eminent neuroscientist and founder of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. He has authored many books based on the pressures of everyday life – his most recent 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

Professor Ian Robertson, Professor Emeritus in Psychology in Trinity College Dublin and Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute, gave the 27th Carmichael Lecture titled ‘the Era of the Mind’, addressing the audience on the topic of human potential, and information, whose medium is the human mind, as the currency of the 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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