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Martha Herbert    

Pediatric Neurologist, Brain Development Researcher & Author

Dr. Martha Herbert is a pediatric neurologist, neuroscientist, systems thinker and writer. She earned her medical degree at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and then trained in Pediatrics at Cornell-New York Hospital and in Neurology and neurodevelopmental disorders at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School where as a faculty member she founded the collaborative multidisciplinary TRANSCEND Research Program (Treatment Research and Neuroscience Evaluation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders), based in the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, which takes a whole-body-brain approach to challenged brain development. Prior to her medical training she obtained a doctoral degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz, studying evolution and development of learning processes in biology and culture in the History of Consciousness program, and then did postdoctoral work in the philosophy and history of science. Her background in pediatric neurology, evolutionary biology, environmental studies, social theory and history of science has oriented her toward systems biology, brain connectivity and dynamism, and brain-body-planet interrelationships.

Dr. Herbert is committed to looking at the brain, medicine and chronic illness in a whole body-brain-planet perspective, and to opening options aimed at increasing systems integrity. To this end, she founded the Higher Synthesis Foundation (HSF) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose mission is to document, study and inspire successful regenerative approaches to complex health and environmental problems, particularly those that fall under the umbrella of its “Gifted Clinicians, Transformative Treatments, Sensitive Measures” Project. HSF facilitates research and data capture through mentorship of independent innovative research and provision of cloud-based research infrastructure support.

Her research interests regarding addressing autism and neurodevelopmental disorders have evolved to viewing them and various other chronic brain conditions as “dynamic encephalopathies” (that can change) rather than taking for granted the unproven assumption that they are “static encephalopathies” (i.e., fixed for life). This involves looking at how environmental exposures and vulnerability affect brain and body health and function all the way from preconception to the end of the lifespan, rather than simply locking in fixed diagnoses before birth – and about how reducing environmental stressors and increasing supports can help expand potential, often greatly. Improving “environment” can also involve transforming how we raise our children, support their learning processes and address their challenges. In this regard, she is helping the Anat Baniel Method®-NeuroMovement® to develop a research program for documenting and studying the often striking impacts of their brain-oriented movement method on childhood and adult brain injury, neurodevelopmental disorders and stroke.

Dr. Herbert serves as Scientific Director of the Documenting Hope Project and Principal Investigator of 1) its CHIRP™ survey study (Children’s Health Inventory for Resilience and Prevention), regarding the influence of “Total Load” of environmental stressors on health, and 2) its FLIGHT™ Study (Facilitated Longitudinal Intensive Investigation of Genuine Health Transformation) which combines research with a film project to document and study recovery from pediatric chronic illness through a comprehensive transdisciplinary whole-systems approach to reducing Total Load and increasing supports for resiliency. She is the author of the public-oriented Harvard University Press book, "The Autism Revolution: Whole Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be," as well as many scientific papers.


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