Wendy Suzuki

Wendy Suzuki

Wendy Suzuki, a renowned neuroscientist and author of “Healthy Brain, Happy Life and Good Anxiety,” will speak about Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion — Anxiety in a free community talk, 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 in the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Fleischmann Auditorium. The event is hosted by Laguna Blanca School.

From a global pandemic to political divisions, the past two years have been stressful, so it’s no wonder so many people are dealing with feelings of unease and even panic. Even before the pandemic, an estimated 90 percent of the population was affected by some degree of anxiety.

For most, it would be difficult to describe anxiety as a good feeling. But what if people could work with their anxiety, not against it, and use it to be more productive, more optimistic, more creative, and ultimately more resilient?

Suzuki has found a way to unlock the potential of anxiety to be a benefit instead of a drawback and explains that anxiety is not only essential for our survival but also a key component of our ability to live optimally.

Drawing from Suzuki’s personal experience with anxiety and cutting-edge neuroscience research, GOOD ANXIETY: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion helps explain how simple but powerful shifts in mindset and tangible, practical strategies can help transform social anxiety, fear of performance, or fear of public speaking into positive, empowering assets.

Anxiety is not, Suzuki argues, an inherently negative emotion; it’s more nuanced and flexible, and humans have the power to optimize how they respond to it. She shows how following the methods outlined in her book allows people to transform anxiety into unexpected superpowers for everyday lives.

Suzuki is a professor of neural science and psychology in the Center for Neural Science at New York University and is an authority on neuroplasticity. She was recently named one of the 10 women changing the way we see the world by Good Housekeeping, and regularly serves as an expert for such publications as The Wall Street Journal, Shape, and Health.

Her TED talk was the second most viewed TED talk of 2018.
Suzuki received her undergraduate degree in physiology and human anatomy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1987. She earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience from U.C. San Diego in 1993 and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health before accepting her faculty position at New York University in 1998.

Her major research interest continues to be brain plasticity, and she is best known for her extensive work studying areas in the brain critical for our ability to form and retain new long-term memories. More recently, her work has focused on understanding how aerobic exercise can be used to improve learning, memory and higher cognitive abilities in humans.