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Jill Bolte Taylor: My Stroke of Insight, TED Talk

This is the most inspiring talk I’ve seen for ages. It’s about something much more important than creativity, although I’m sure it will resonate for anyone who takes a creative approach to life, in whatever field you work.

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened — as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment.

If you think that sounds intriguing, wait till you watch the whole thing. Don’t try to skim it – it’s about 20 minutes long and it’s worth making time to sit and watch it when you’re not thinking about anything else. I’m glad I did.

Watch the video on the TED site. Thanks to Garr Reynolds at Presentation Zen for enthusing about the talk so much that I made time for it.

Dr Taylor has written a book about her experience, which you can order via her website – if I were you I’d watch the video before you read about the book, it’s much better to hear the story via the live talk.


  1. Wow! that shows the power of the web. I have been referred to this video by a couple of friends in the last four days, and then today reading your post about it! I watched it myself on Friday, powerful stuff!

  2. Its an incredible piece of film mark.

    Charles Frith’s last blog post..Chain Surfing

  3. Thanks Jayne, Charles – powerful stuff indeed.

  4. I saw this a few weeks ago – it’s really great.

    In fact, there’s almost too much great stuff on TED – I never get enough time to watch it all.

    Antonio Gould’s last blog post..How to write a killer elevator pitch

  5. I read about Jill in AARP magazine and then I did some internet research and found this video.

    I am overwhelmed to see and hear someone just like me.

    I am the voice of a silenced child. Due to childhood traumas my brain has shifted from right to left and then from left to right. I too had a shut down of the left brain and have worked hard for six years to recover. Most of my healing process took place through creative writing and journaling.

    I put together a Humpty Dumpty me.

  6. Hi Janie, glad to hear you found it inspiring and helpful. All the best, Mark

  7. It was very interesting talk however i have some comment to make.

    1.During acute stroke or ictus brain doesn’t work isolated right and left there is suppression of the whole brain with alteration of consciousness.
    2.What she describes as right brain experience is actually transient alteration of consciousness due to Diaschesis a phenomenon where there is reflex suppression of the opposite or distant part of the brain. This can cause immediate alteration of consciousness or coma which is not due to direct compression of the brain.
    3.Clot seen in the CT scan is not big enough to cause right sided paralysis or speech problem if it had developed slowly like in subdural haematoma or collection of blood below meningies in old patients.
    4.It is very common to have similar experience of body dissolving during induction of anesthesia and near death or syncopal patient.
    5.It is very rare to have similar experience in left brain damaged child or stroke patients.
    6.Moreover lack of awareness of the body is more common with right sided stroke or brain damage called neglect.

    Her experience was true but may not be due to Right brain which never functions isolated from other part of brain. Right brain is almost mirror image of left brain except some part more primitive than left like language and mathematics.

  8. You may well be right about the right brain, but I don’t think the neurological explanation was the main point of the video.