TED Talks: Neurologist describes her stroke

From Think or Thwim, a TEDS Talk video of neurologist Jill Bolte Taylor, describing in that brief, TEDS way, the morning when she had a stroke on the left side of her brain. It’s a stirring talk, as she describes the loss of functions, the loss of the ability to hear, the loss of the ability to talk, and the great insights she got from the experience in her 30s — more than a decade later, after what must be described as a full recovery.

Caution to the skeptics — she veers into a bit of wooishness. It’s still worth the look. Caution to the squeamish: Yes, that’s a brain.

Psychology teachers: Can you use this in class? What a great piece in discussion of brain physiology.

Also, her book: Jill Bolte Taylor | My Stroke of Insight

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.ted.com posted with vodpod


Okay, if the TEDS version doesn’t show above (I’ve had good experiences posting them before . . .) here’s the YouTube version

21 Responses to TED Talks: Neurologist describes her stroke

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Dear ?????????:

    Take your spam other places, but no place on the internet.

    The Management


  2. […] Taylor, a brain researcher who herself experienced and much recovered from a devastating stroke.  Lecture here, more information […]


  3. A. Winslow says:

    What impressed me was not the spiritual aspect of Dr. Taylor’s experience, a phenomenon which is different for each person, but the phenomenon of being drawn into one’s inner being as portions of the brain grapple to complete, and thus act upon, every day concepts.

    I certainly don’t minimize Dr.Taylor’s experience, but because she was a skilled academic, she had (fortuitously) retained prior clinical knowledge of the condition, was articulate (when she became able), and was, thus, taken seriously by outsiders. Lacking this advantage in my own case, was an added complication to recovery. (My “hit” occurred several decades ago when “The Pill” was prescribed for a physical condition.)

    Out of my own experience, through subsequent, comparison and deduction and lengthy study, (for a time the brain could only use a color-coding system, as words would not form), I’ve stumbled upon a previously unrecognized metabolic pathway which plays a role in all sorts of things. Decades later, this material has gained some promising feedback from clinicians in the field. Without stealing Dr. Taylor’s thunder, is there anyone out there who might be interested in a brief discussion of my findngs which were initiated by the similar experience of brain trauma –and were also coupled with autonomic system trauma? In all events, thank you, Dr.Taylor, for sharing this deeply personal account.



  4. Adam says:

    I was totally riveted by her talk. She experienced what can only be described as a life changing spiritual event. I will come back and watch this a few more times for inspiration.

    However, she did go a little into woo-woo land. But given the experience, it’s next to impossible to describe what she saw and felt without using some of those words (like: spirit, energy, etc). I don’t blame her for doing it.

    That being said, this doesn’t confirm anything supernatural, nor religious in external reality. But that doesn’t take anything away from this amazing experience.


  5. Cindy says:

    I found the video to be incredibly moving and beautiful. Wonderful!

    I also read her book MY STROKE OF INSIGHT and I loved it! I am recommending it to everyone I know and my friends are coming back and thanking me!! : ) It’s the best book I’ve read in years. Of course there’s the fascinating medical and spiritual and right/left brain parts, but I found the story between mother and daughter a beautiful one too. This should be a movie!


  6. […] Bolte Taylor in the NY Times Jill Bolte Taylor’s inspiring story of stroke and recovery in a brain function specialist got a nice treatment in the New York Times a week ago:  “A […]


  7. Ed Darrell says:

    Gee, I missed the article (and I bought the paper!).

    A superhighway to bliss.”


  8. Lois says:

    The New York Times Sunday Newspaper on May 25 had a great two page article on Jill Bolte Taylor and her book, “MY STROKE OF INSIGHT”. Her book is a must read and this NY Times article – called “A Superhighway to bliss” is worth checking out too.


  9. Ed Darrell says:

    Oprah? My TV watching is even much more reduced than I had thought. Oprah?


  10. Terry says:

    I read “My Stroke of Insight” in one sitting – I couldn’t put it down. I laughed. I cried. It was a fantastic book (I heard it’s a NYTimes Bestseller and I can see why!), but I also think it will be the start of a new, transformative Movement! No one wants to have a stroke as Jill Bolte Taylor did, but her experience can teach us all how to live better lives. Her TED.com speech was one of the most incredibly moving, stimulating, wonderful videos I’ve ever seen. Her Oprah Soul Series interviews were fascinating. They should make a movie of her life so everyone sees it. This is the Real Deal and gives me hope for humanity.


  11. alysia says:

    I’ve been recommending “My Stroke of Insight” to everyone I know. It’s the best book I’ve read all year! You can get Jill’s book from Amazon for a good discount.
    Here’s the link:


  12. 99 says:

    …literally SAVE someone’s life…


    Ed note: Fixed. Thanks for the comment.


  13. 99 says:

    Jill’s talk is about as close to perfect communication anyone could experience and the suggestion of “wooishness” was churlish. Having studied the ancient masters for decades, I can tell you that you will not get a clearer statement of fundamental reality from anyone if you live to be 200. My wish for anyone who watches this video is that they forget themselves, forget what they believe is sensible and really think about what she is conveying. The kernels of insight to be gotten from this could literally save someone’s life, many someones’ lives.

    And, Ediacaran, coming back from ketamine is heartbreaking.


  14. Ediacaran says:

    A quick search for info on NDE shows that ketamine (used as an anaesthetic) comes closer to duplicating the near-death experience than endorphins. I haven’t had time to check much in the way of peer-reviewed papers on ketamine, but just thought I’d share that tidbit if anyone else wanted to pursue the latest research on it.


  15. Bug Girl says:

    Very interesting. My stroke experience wasn’t as transformative.

    I have experienced plenty of freaky spiritual things via my epilepsy, though, and it’s given me a much better understanding of Revelations. :D


  16. Shirley says:

    Hi, Darrell–

    I viewed this video some time ago on TED and actually have it lined up as a subject for my own blog. It is truly fascinating. It is perhaps a simplistic statement to observe there to be so much we don’t understand about the human mind, brain and spirit.

    All the comments here raise interesting facets–especially as concerns the spiritual aspect. In 1994, my husband (as a pedestrian) was struck by a drunk driver, and was knocked 86 feet through the air, landing “dead” in the street. A lady rushed to him, finding him with no heart beat and no pulse. She quickly did CRP and revived him. His injuries was almost unimaginable causing him to spend 5 months in the hospital–broken neck, bleeding into the brain stem, paralysis (locked in the body sensation for awhile)….on and on…

    What is fascinating is this. My husband is a minister, a highly religious person, and he had absolutely no “spiritual” reaction or revelation. No tunnels, no lights, no voices, no visions.

    He is well today. If you saw him, you would never know he had experienced such torture. We’re grateful.

    Love your site.


  17. […] A neurologist describes her experience with a stroke and recovery. […]


  18. Ediacaran says:

    Thanks for the video link, Ed. Very interesting. I think onlycrook is onto something regarding perceptions of Near-Death Experiences.

    It has been awhile since I’ve read material on NDEs and the physiological effects of severe injuries/trauma, but people do find them to be life-changing experiences, and my impression is that people integrate their prior religious/spiritual beliefs into their experience, regardless of their particular religious background. I haven’t had a NDE, but the few lucid dreams I’ve experienced were pretty astonishing such that I recall them years later. I didn’t even have the endorphin flood going as occurs with a life-threatening injury, so I imagine that Taylor’s experience made even more of an impression if a release of endorphins also accompanied her stroke.

    I remember reading accounts of g-induced loss-of-conciousness among fighter pilots, and how the resulting hypoxia caused tunnel vision (as the edges of the retina were deprived of oxygen, and the field of view narrowed as the lack progressed closer to the source of blood for the eyes), followed by temporary blindness and loss of hearing until the pilots blacked out. The resulting “tunnel of light” experience is a common theme in many NDEs.

    Taylor’s account of her injury also reminded of the sad case of a conscious woman trapped in an unresponsive body: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/07/health/07cnd-brain.html?ex=1315281600&en=a3935305b1d8ece1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss


  19. Ed Darrell says:

    I think many people fear that. Taylor goes a little wooey on the issue.

    Of course, the way she describes the experience, it may be that our spiritual connection resides in our brains somewhere; or it may be that what we mistake as spiritual experience is entirely locked in our brains. Research may be able to make some progress on the issue.

    Who is brave enough to study it?


  20. onlycrook says:

    What I found interesting about this when I watched it a couple of weeks ago was that it explains why people believe in religious phenomena–they’ve been fooled by their right brains. I left a comment like that on Huffington Post and someone commented that *I* had probably been fooled by my left brain. But really, doesn’t this give a possible explanation about why people have strange near death experiences? Their right brains are functioning without a left brain to tell them what’s real.


  21. For Prez '24 says:

    I’ve yet to see the video player working reliably but it could just be me. Still you might consider linking to the YouTube Version. I read through the transcript a while ago, its a pretty interesting talk, the thing that gets me is how many people find it moving in a spiritual sense.



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