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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Renowned Stroke Survivor/Brain Scientist Delivers Darden Lecture

A crowd of more than 600 filled the Big Blue Room at Old Dominion University's Ted Constant Convocation Center April 9 to hear Jill Bolte Taylor, an award-winning researcher who overcame her own massive stroke to gain new insight into traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.

Taylor, a neuroanatomist, author and renowned public speaker, delivered the 2015 Darden Lecture. She spoke about the rare research opportunity she received when she suffered a stroke in 1996.

In 1996, Taylor experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain, and watched as her brain functions - motion, speech, self-awareness - shut down one by one. During her painstaking recovery, Taylor provided the scientific community with a one-of-a-kind perspective on stroke recovery from the victim's perspective, which has helped researchers develop new therapies and treatments.

Spectators for the Darden Lecture included individuals who have suffered brain injuries themselves. At the outset of her dynamic presentation, Taylor remarked that she hoped she could inspire those who have suffered.

"It's a new world and it's a world of recovery," Taylor said. "What are you doing with your power? This is your life."

Introducing Taylor, Dean Jane Bray, of Old Dominion's Darden College of Education, thanked Stacie Raymer, professor and chair of the Department of Communication Disorders and Special Education, for helping assemble the unique audience for faculty, students and the broader community.

"I see many of our students in the audience tonight. I hope you are prepared. I know that Dr. Taylor is expecting to hear from you," Bray said.

It took eight years for Taylor to completely recover all of her physical function and thinking ability. The recovery, which unleashed a torrent of creative energy from the right side of Taylor's brain, allowed her to offer new, groundbreaking research insight into stroke recovery.

Taylor is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "My Stroke of Insight: A Brian Scientist's Personal Journey," that was published in 2008. The book received the top "Books for a Better Life" award in the science category from the New York City chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, in 2009.

Taylor now travels the country on behalf of the Harvard Brain Bank, delivering engaging speeches about breakthroughs in brain research.

Sponsored by Old Dominion's Darden College of Education, the Darden Lecture series seeks to bring to campus speakers who fuse innovative scholarship with engaging educational insight and a dynamic presence.