Travels from San Francisco, California, USA
Adam Gazzaley's speaking fee falls
within range: $20,000 to $25,000
World-class neuroscientist and neurologist, Dr. Adam Gazzaley is working to turn video games and other technology into medical treatments for conditions like dementia, depression, and pediatric ADHD. He teaches neurology, physiology and psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and is the Founder and Executive Director of Neuroscape, a UCSF state-of-the-art neuroscience center where he and his team are pioneering an entirely new field of medicine – digital medicine.
Dr. Gazzaley collaborated with Lucas Arts to build a video game that would target players’ cognitive abilities. In 2013, he and his team were featured on the cover of Nature magazine when they published a study showing that playing such games could significantly turn around age-related cognitive decline. He is cofounder and Chief Science Advisor of Akili, a prescription digital medicine company which is currently conducting FDA trials using evolved versions of the prototype game Dr. Gazzaley’s team developed.
Dr. Gazzaley’s research and teaching has earned him numerous awards, including the 2015 Society for Neuroscience – Science Educator Award. His MIT Press book, The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, co-authored with Dr. Larry Rosen, was the recipient of the 2017 PROSE Award. Additionally, Dr. Gazzaley wrote and hosted the nationally televised PBS special, The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley which examines how multitasking influences our safety, our memory, our education, our careers and our personal lives. He is the author of over 130 scientific articles and has presented at over 600 events.
Dr. Adam Gazzaley obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, completed Neurology residency at the University of Pennsylvania, and postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at University of California, Berkeley. He is now Professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco and the Founder & Executive Director of Neuroscape, a translational neuroscience center engaged in technology creation and scientific research. He designs and develops novel brain assessment and optimization tools to impact education, wellness, and medicine practices.
This novel approach involves the development of custom-designed, closed-loop video games integrated with the latest advancements in software (brain computer interfaces, GPU computing, cloud-based analytics) and hardware (virtual/augmented reality, motion capture, mobile physiological recording devices, transcranial electrical brain stimulation). These technologies are then advanced to rigorous research studies that evaluate their impact on multiple aspects of brain function and physiology. This utilizes a powerful combination of neurophysiological tools, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Dr. Gazzaley is also co-founder and Chief Science Advisor of Akili Interactive, a company developing therapeutic video games, and co-founder and Chief Scientist of JAZZ Venture Partners, a venture capital firm investing in experiential technology to improve human performance. Additionally, he has been a scientific advisor for over a dozen companies including Apple, GE, Nielsen, Deloitte, Magic Leap, and the VOID, as well as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.
Dr. Gazzaley has filed multiple patents for his inventions, authored over 130 scientific articles, and delivered over 600 presentations around the world. His research and perspectives have been consistently profiled in high-impact media, such as The New York Times, New York Times Magazine, New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Discover, Wired, PBS, NPR, CNN and NBC Nightly News. He wrote and hosted the nationally-televised PBS special “The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley,” and co-authored the 2016 MIT Press book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, winner of the 2017 PROSE Award in the category of Biomedicine and Neuroscience. Dr. Gazzaley has received many awards and honors, including the 2015 Society for Neuroscience – Science Educator Award.
Can we use technology to enhance our minds’ capabilities? Neuroscientist, Dr. Adam Gazzaley shares how his lab at UCSF is trying to bridge the gap between neuroscience and consumer technology by laying the groundwork for non-invasive products people could use to “elevate how our brains and our minds function.”
Dr. Gazzaley shows how his lab, Neuroscape, is implementing specially designed video games to harness the plasticity of the brain and improve cognitive abilities in senior citizens. Senior citizens who played a specific game 12 hours over the course of a month actually demonstrated a higher capacity to multitask than the average twenty-something-year-old.
“I believe that this will be the future,” Dr. Gazzaley comments on his work overall, “alongside and replacing in many ways what we currently do with medications and education. These closed-looped systems will be a powerful way to help improve our minds.”
Dr. Adam Gazzaley is arguably the world’s foremost expert on how our brains are affected by distractions and multitasking. His decades of groundbreaking research are the foundation of a potential new medical field in which specially designed videos games and other technologies could supplement or even replace pharmaceuticals in the treatments of depression, memory loss, ADHD, and other similar conditions. Using visual aides, Dr. Gazzaley immerses you inside the brain and his cutting edge studies so that you will better understand how our minds work and how we can use technologies like video games and VR to boost our brain function.
Technology meets Neuroscience - A Vision of the Future of Brain Optimization
• Audiences: technologists, engineers, medical professionals, educators, pharma, investors, companies
• Examples of Keynotes: Deloitte (2018), Doximity (2018), Puretech Health Summit (2018), CES (2018), BayLearn - Apple (2017), Google X (2017), Tiger21 (2017)
• A fundamental challenge of modern society is the development of effective approaches to enhance brain function and cognition in both the healthy and impaired. For the healthy, this should be a core mission of our educational system and for the cognitively impaired this is should be a primary goal of our medical system. Unfortunately, neither of these systems have effectively met this challenge.
• Dr. Gazzaley presents a novel approach he developed at UCSF Neuroscape that uses custom- designed video games to achieve meaningful and sustainable cognitive enhancement via personalized closed-loop systems.
He also shares the next stage of his research program, which integrates closed-loop video games with the latest technological innovations in software (e.g., brain computer interfaces, AI) and
hardware (e.g., virtual reality, mobile EEG, motion capture, physiological recording devices, brain
stimulation) to enhance our brain’s information processing systems with the ultimate aim of
improving our brain function.
The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World
• Audiences: technologists, teachers, educators, companies
• Examples of Keynotes: EduTech Australia 2018), Attorneys' Liability Assurance Society
(2018), Commonwealth Club (2017), Fortune Brainstorm Health (2017)
• Our increasingly information-saturated world, coupled with growing expectations of constant
availability and immediate responsiveness, place excessive demands on our brains. The
consequences are detrimental effects on our safety, health, education, workplace, and
relationships with family and friends.
• Dr. Gazzaley takes us on a journey into how and why we struggle with interruptions and
distractions that emerge from both our inner and outer worlds. He will present a unique
evolutionary perspective that the very essence of what has evolved in our brains to make us most
human collides headfirst with our brain’s limitations in cognitive control.
He concludes by offering practical strategies for modifying our behavior, as well as the latest
innovations from his research in enhancing our brain's function, so that we can better survive and
thrive in the information age.
Raging against Aging: The Future of Brain Optimization and Longevity
• Audiences: technologists, investors, lawyers, judges, companies
• Examples of Keynotes: Optimal Wellness (2018), AFest MindValley - Sardinia (2018),
International Conference on Ageing- Adelaide (2017), Assigned Judges Conference
• One of the greatest achievements of modern times has been to dramatically increase the
longevity of our species. While this is a cause for celebration, it should be recognized that it has
resulted in numerous challenges to maintain quality of life due to a near ubiquitous decline in
cognitive function with aging.
• Dr. Gazzaley describes the latest research on the aging brain and the challenges faced by an
increasingly older population on a global level.
He shares practical advice on how to retain our cognition as we age, as well as a novel approach
that he has been developing to use cutting-edge technology (custom-designed video games,
artificial intelligence, brain stimulation, and Virtual reality) to achieve meaningful and sustainable
cognitive enhancement throughout our lives.
The Promise of Virtual Reality and the Brain
• Audiences: technologists, engineers, medical, educators, pharma, investors, companies
• Examples of Keynotes: Games for Change (2017), High Fidelity (2018)
• The long-awaited arrival of virtual and augmented reality is upon us. Consumer available
products hold seemingly infinite promise in changing communication, entertainment and
commerce. But what about our brains?
• Dr. Gazzaley takes us on a deep dive into how virtual and augmented reality technologies can be
help enhance our cognition, with benefits to our memory, attention, decision-making and even
empathy and compassion.
In this context of improving cognition, he discusses the potential educational and medical uses for
these powerful new technologies.
The Cognition Crisis
• Audiences: technologists, engineers, medical, educators, pharma, investors
• Examples of Keynotes: The Academy - SF (2018), Apple (2018)- internal talk
• Our lives on this planet have improved in so many amazing ways over the last century. On
average we are now healthier, less poor, more literate, less violent and longer living. Despite
these positive changes, signs are present that we are in the midst of an emerging crisis. This is a
crisis of our minds – a cognition crisis.
• Dr. Gazzaley presents his latest perspectives on the difficulties we humans are currently facing in
terms of our attention, perception, creativity, emotional regulation and compassion. Anxiety,
depression, attention deficits and dementia affect a half a billion people around the world with an
economic toll in the trillions. And these numbers are rising, notably in our children.
He proposes that the goal of enhancing cognition should be positioned as a grand challenge, and
placed on par with other pressing global priorities. He concludes with a presentation of potential
solutions using modern day technology.
SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn / take away from your presentations?
GAZZALEY: I think it is important for people to understand both the challenges and promise of technology and the brain, so that they can make more informed decisions for themselves and their family on how to live with technology in a healthier way. I also want people to glimpse a future I believe we will live in, one that will combine technology (e.g., AI and VR) with neuroscience to enhance our cognitive function and elevate our minds.
SPEAKING.COM: What kind of special prep work do you do prior to an event? How to you prepare for your speaking engagements?
GAZZALEY: I try to deeply understand the audience I am talking to, so I can offer insights that will speak to their interests and needs.
SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?
GAZZALEY: I enjoy each speaking engagement for their uniqueness, from the 5000 person arena keynotes to the intimate dinner conversation in a home. Speaking at music festivals has certainly been an unusual setting, but then again, so were prison and Congress.
SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?
GAZZALEY: I have been amazed and delighted by the diversity of audiences who have asked me to speak for them: academics, entrepreneurs, investors, educators, lawyers, bankers, doctors, judges, children, healthcare professionals, technologists, engineers…
SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speaking topics are your favorites and why?
GAZZALEY: I most enjoy giving talks that start with grounding in present concerns and then advance to positive approaches of optimizing our near and far future. Why? Because this is how I live my own life.
SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements?
GAZZALEY: A decade ago, I was invited to speak for the AARP at their annual meeting on the aging brain. I was hooked immediately by that audience’s passion to understand their own brains and make their lives better.
SPEAKING.COM: How much do case studies, personal stories and or humor factor into your keynote speech content?
GAZZALEY: I like inserting these elements because it makes it more fun for me and the audience. But it is easier to accomplish this and also share a lot of content with longer speaking slots.
SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes you’ve helped clients make?
GAZZALEY: They are broad – from changing how they live their lives in general, to the specifics of how they engage at work or school.
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The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World
Why our brains aren’t built for media multitasking, and how we can learn to live with technology in a more balanced way.
“Brilliant and practical, just what we need in these techno-human times.”—Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart
Most of us will freely admit that we are obsessed with our devices. We pride ourselves on our ability to multitask—read work email, reply to a text, check Facebook, watch a video clip. Talk on the phone, send a text, drive a car. Enjoy family dinner with a glowing smartphone next to our plates. We can do it all, 24/7! Never mind the errors in the email, the near-miss on the road, and the unheard conversation at the table. In The Distracted Mind, Adam Gazzaley and Larry Rosen—a neuroscientist and a psychologist—explain why our brains aren’t built for multitasking, and suggest better ways to live in a high-tech world without giving up our modern technology.
The authors explain that our brains are limited in their ability to pay attention. We don’t really multitask but rather switch rapidly between tasks. Distractions and interruptions, often technology-related—referred to by the authors as “interference”—collide with our goal-setting abilities. We want to finish this paper/spreadsheet/sentence, but our phone signals an incoming message and we drop everything. Even without an alert, we decide that we “must” check in on social media immediately.
Gazzaley and Rosen offer practical strategies, backed by science, to fight distraction. We can change our brains with meditation, video games, and physical exercise; we can change our behavior by planning our accessibility and recognizing our anxiety about being out of touch even briefly. They don’t suggest that we give up our devices, but that we use them in a more balanced way.
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