Takao Hensch, PhD
Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Senior Research Associate in Neurology, Boston Children’s Hospital
Dr. Hensch’s research is aimed at the interface between cell biology and neuroscience – applying cellular/molecular techniques to elucidate complex neural systems. Much of our adult behavior reflects the neural circuits sculpted by experience during critical periods in infancy and early childhood. At no other time in life does the surrounding environment so potently shape brain function – from basic motor skills, sensation or sleep to higher cognitive processes like language. How this plasticity waxes and wanes with age carries an impact far beyond neuroscience, including education policy, therapeutic approaches to developmental disorders or strategies for recovery from brain injury in adulthood. Dr. Hensch has revealed that these critical periods are themselves plastic and reversible. Specific, inhibitory (GABA) circuits determine their onset timing, and “brake”-like factors ultimately consolidate this potent rewiring process.