One of the breakthrough talks from the 2013 installment of TEDxBoston was Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu’s report of their work using laser beams to manipulate memories in mice. Their talk, which more than 830,000 people had viewed online last time we checked, was one of our favorite talks last year. I served as a coach; our Evan Wondolowski worked on their outstanding slides, which did a great job of explaining their advanced neuroscientific concepts in ways that those of us who do not have Ph.Ds can understand. (Such a great job, in fact, that many publications used them to help their readers make sense of Steve and Xu’s findings.)
One of the ideas behind this year’s TEDxBoston was to bring back some of our favorite speakers and performers from recent years and learn what they’ve been up to. (Roughly half the program was devoted to veterans of TEDxBoston.) Since less than 16 months separated this year’s show from last year’s, we didn’t have many people who were onstage in 2013 come back. Not enough had happened to justify a new talk. But brain science is moving so quickly that Steve and Xu returned to tell the flip side of the story they told the first time. Last year, their talk focused on creating false negative memories in mice; this year, their talk centered on activating positive memories. Once again, they brought the house down.
Also once again, Evan Wondolowski created their slides. We talked to Evan about his work with Steve and Xu.
How was Steve and Xu’s talk, and your work supporting the talk different this year from last year?