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But neuroplasticity, in itself, is neutral. Has that borne itself out. I think the evidence today is even stronger than it was when we spoke about it last. The reason I liken it to language is that we also know that we come into the world with a biological propensity for language, but it requires that we be nurtured in a normal linguistic community for that propensity to be expressed.

And I think the same is true for kindness. We come into the world with this innate propensity, but for this propensity to be expressed, it requires nurturing.

Tippett: That, then, has implications for if this is brought into a classroom, that it is also about the teachers really embodying this. We know that this occurs in a relationship between a parent and their offspring, and it occurs in any kind of a sustained interpersonal interaction. Taking on these kinds of characteristics in a really deep, embodied way will impact all of those around us.

Today, with neuroscientist Richard Davidson. A curriculum for a compassionate classroom, the Kindness Curriculum, is one of the fruits of discoveries in his brain imaging laboratory and his Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

We all know what that experience is. This is not just about having an idea. And also, this is part of self-awareness. Having a bodily representation of this kind of experience enables us to become more familiar with it, and so, we can get back to it -Ms.

That kind of familiarity is so important because it helps to reinstate it. Well, one of the ways that we think about resilience in a hard-nosed research context is, resilience is the rapidity with which you recover from adversity. To paraphrase the bumper sticker, stuff happens. What really is important is how we relate to these challenges. And if we can come back to baseline more quickly, that is really powerful. Not only does it have consequences for our psychological wellbeing, it also has consequences for our physical health.

In other parts of the research that we do, in older people who are in their seventh and eighth and ninth decades of life, it turns out that this quality is a really important predictor of mortality - that is, the rapidity with which you recover from adversity, taking into account all other kinds of medical factors. What do parents and what do teachers say to you about what they observe, how this shifts things for individual children and for the group experience. Davidson: Many different stories come to mind.

One is a boy by the name of Will, who we really got to know well, who was a kid in a preschool that we were working in. He had a phobia that really was interfering with his life. He was intensely phobic of elevators. He had an experience at some point in his past, of getting stuck on an elevator by himself.

And he had other manifestations of anxiety. It was remarkable to see him go through one semester of this Kindness Curriculum. We do, for example, an exercise where we ring the bell, and we ask the kids to pay very close attention to the sound when the bell is rung, and as soon as they can no longer hear the bell, they should raise their hands.

They can taste the quality of quiet in their bodies. And Will had that taste for the first time, I think, in his life. It has been so hyped in the media, in education, in all kinds of places, that some of its nuanced flavor, I think, has been lost. We talk about it as mental exercises to cultivate self-regulation, to cultivate the regulation of attention, the regulation of emotion.

Framed in this way, I think we can make it quite universal. That is something we could all use. Davidson: I think we really can. We all brush our teeth several times a day. Virtually every human being on the planet does that. We envision a time when we will recognize that our minds are just as important as our teeth and - I suspect there are no dentists in the audience - probably more important than our teeth.

Doing simple mental exercise in the same way that we do physical exercise, I think, will be recognized as really an urgent public health need. Davidson: Yeah, and teenagers are super important. There are three critical sensitive periods in early life. And yet, the regulatory systems in the brain are maturing at their own rate.

That has not changed. So we have the longest period ever in human history, a gap between the onset of puberty and the development of these regulatory systems in the brain. If you look over the course of the last hundred years, a hundred years ago the age of onset of puberty in Western countries was around age 16.

This has been a remarkable change in the course of 100 years. But for whatever reason, it is occurring. So it leads to the crisis, I think, that we have today but also an opportunity. Tippett: After a short break, more with Richard Davidson. You can always listen again and hear the unedited version of every show we do on the On Being podcast feed. Now with bite-sized extras wherever podcasts are found.

Today with neuroscientist Richard Davidson. Jeff Hittenberger, chief academic officer, moderated some questions. In other words, can trauma be fixed. We do know that the brain is plastic. We ourselves have done some research on kids who were raised in Eastern European orphanages and who were then adopted into middle-class families in the United States, and I can tell you, their brains look different structurally.

They still showed, if you will, scarring in their brain when they were teens.