Wendy Suzuki

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Wendy Suzuki
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
University of California, San Diego
Known forNeuroplasticity, Memory, Exercise
AwardsTroland Research Award
Scientific career
FieldsNeuroscience, Memory, Psychology
InstitutionsNational Institutes of Health
New York University
Academic advisorsMarian Diamond
David Amaral

Wendy Suzuki is a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the New York University Center for Neural Science and popular science communicator. She is the author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life: A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain and Do Everything Better.[1]

Education and early career[edit]

Suzuki received her undergraduate degree in physiology and human anatomy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1987. There, she worked with Marian Diamond, whom she met after taking her course called "The Brain and its Potential."[2][3] Diamond's work opened the door into studying neuroplasticity with evidence that the brain could change in response to its environment.[4] With an interest in memory and brain plasticity, Suzuki then went on to receive her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego in 1993 under the mentorship of David Amaral, Stuart Zola, and Larry Squire.[5] There, her work uncovered the importance of the perirhinal and parahippocampal cortices in preserving our long-term memories. Her doctoral thesis won her the Society for Neuroscience's Donald B. Lindsley Prize in the field of behavioral neuroscience.[6]

Career and research[edit]

Suzuki completed her postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health between 1993 and 1998. There she worked under the mentorship of Robert Desimone, studying how the brain is able to remember where objects are in space.[7]

Suzuki joined the faculty at New York University's Center for Neural Science in 1998.[8][9] Her research interests center on neuroplasticity and how the brain is able to change and adapt over the course of a person's life. Her early career research focused on the areas of the brain that play an important role in our ability to form and retain memories. More recently, she's expanded this work to study the role of aerobic exercise on potentially enhancing cognitive abilities.[2]

Memory and the brain[edit]

Suzuki's research career started with studying underlying memory. Her lab focused on the role of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory of facts and events, otherwise known as declarative or explicit memory. Her research group was the first to identify major changes to patterns of neural activity in the hippocampus as subjects worked to form memories that associated objects with one another, known as "associative memories."[10] They identified neural patterns associated with how the brain forms memories in a temporal order, showing the critical role of the hippocampus in how timing is incorporated into forming memories.[11][12]

Exercise and the brain[edit]

Suzuki's research in 2018 focused on the impact of exercise on the brain. Her group is working to develop a "prescription" for the right amount of exercise to maximize brain activity for a range of purposes including; learning, aging, memory, attention, and mood.[13] To support that work, the Suzuki lab is researching the kinds of exercise that enhance cognition among adults. Her group has found evidence that acute aerobic exercise can improve prefrontal cortex activity, which is the part of the brain that contributes to personality development.[14] Suzuki is also investigating how best to incorporate exercise to treat mood and cognitive disorders. Her group has found that a combined regimen of exercise and self-affirmation interventions can enhance the cognitive capabilities and mood of patients with traumatic brain injury.[15]

Science communication[edit]

Suzuki is also a popular science communicator and author of the book Healthy Brain, Happy Life.[16][17] The book details her personal journey with exercise and how it has transformed her life, while discussing the underlying neuroscience of the benefits of exercise. Tour stops for the book included appearances on shows like CBS This Morning, WNYC, and the Big Think.[18][19][20] Suzuki has regularly appeared on HuffPost, sharing advances in her research on the link between exercise and brain activity.[21]

Suzuki has told stories for shows like The Moth about how she first came to say "I love you" to her parents as an adult and The Story Collider about how an exercise in acting challenged her beliefs about love and attraction in the brain.[22][23]

Awards and honors[edit]

Suzuki also serves on the Board of Directors of the McKnight Foundation, acting as the Chair for the Memory & Cognitive Disorder Awards.[28]


  1. ^ Aidan McCullen (2018). "The Innovation Show EP 50: Healthy Brain, Happy Life, Brain Hacks for a better brain". podcasts.apple.com (Podcast). The Innovation Show. Retrieved 24 Sep 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Want a Better Brain? Get Moving (Podcast)". Live Science. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  3. ^ "Why This Neuroscientist Studies Memory | Reader's Digest". Reader's Digest. 2015-09-03. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  4. ^ "Marian Diamond, known for studies of Einstein's brain, dies at 90". Berkeley News. 2017-07-28. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  5. ^ "Growing up in science". www.cns.nyu.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  6. ^ "Wendy Suzuki | NYU Shanghai". research.shanghai.nyu.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  7. ^ Suzuki, W. A.; Miller, E. K.; Desimone, R. (August 1997). "Object and place memory in the macaque entorhinal cortex". Journal of Neurophysiology. 78 (2): 1062–1081. doi:10.1152/jn.1997.78.2.1062. ISSN 0022-3077. PMID 9307135.
  8. ^ "Wendy Suzuki | NYU Faculty". Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  9. ^ "NYU/CNS : Faculty : Core Faculty : Wendy A. Suzuki". www.cns.nyu.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  10. ^ Wirth, Sylvia; Yanike, Marianna; Frank, Loren M.; Smith, Anne C.; Brown, Emery N.; Suzuki, Wendy A. (2003-06-06). "Single Neurons in the Monkey Hippocampus and Learning of New Associations". Science. 300 (5625): 1578–1581. doi:10.1126/science.1084324. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 12791995.
  11. ^ Naya, Yuji; Suzuki, Wendy A. (2011-08-05). "Integrating what and when across the primate medial temporal lobe". Science. 333 (6043): 773–776. doi:10.1126/science.1206773. ISSN 1095-9203. PMID 21817056.
  12. ^ Suzuki, Wendy; Naya, Yuji (2011-10-28). "Two routes for remembering the past". Cell. 147 (3): 493–495. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2011.10.005. ISSN 1097-4172. PMID 22036558.
  13. ^ "A neuroscientist is trying to create tailored 'exercise prescriptions' for aging to keep the brain sharp". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  14. ^ Basso, Julia C.; Shang, Andrea; Elman, Meredith; Karmouta, Ryan; Suzuki, Wendy A. (November 2015). "Acute Exercise Improves Prefrontal Cortex but not Hippocampal Function in Healthy Adults". Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society: JINS. 21 (10): 791–801. doi:10.1017/S135561771500106X. ISSN 1469-7661. PMID 26581791.
  15. ^ Lee, Yuen Shan Christine; Ashman, Teresa; Shang, Andrea; Suzuki, Wendy (2014). "Brief report: Effects of exercise and self-affirmation intervention after traumatic brain injury". NeuroRehabilitation. 35 (1): 57–65. doi:10.3233/NRE-141100. ISSN 1878-6448. PMID 24990010.
  16. ^ Suzuki, Wendy; Fitzpatrick, Billie (2015). Health Brain, Happy Life. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0062366788.
  17. ^ "For neuroscientist, learning how exercise affects the brain has been a life-changing experience". The Hub. 2016-04-11. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  18. ^ Neuroscientist's secrets of focus, memory and moods, retrieved 2018-08-10
  19. ^ "How Exercise Affects The Brain | The Leonard Lopate Show | WNYC". WNYC. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  20. ^ "Wendy Suzuki". Big Think. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  21. ^ "Working Out Could Have Some Serious Benefits For Your Brain". HuffPost. 2017-04-26. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  22. ^ "The Moth | The Art and Craft of Storytelling". The Moth. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  23. ^ "Magnetism: Stories about attraction". The Story Collider. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  24. ^ "Teaching Awards 2010". cas.nyu.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  25. ^ http://www.nasonline.org, National Academy of Sciences -. "Troland Research Awards". www.nasonline.org. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  26. ^ "Awardees - McKnight Foundation". McKnight Foundation. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  27. ^ "Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience". August 10, 2018.
  28. ^ "Leadership - McKnight Foundation". McKnight Foundation. Retrieved 2018-08-07.

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