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Tali Sharot



Tali is a former TED speaker, neuroscientist, and author of The Optimism Bias: why we’re wired to look on the bright side. She is currently a research fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London. Tali investigates how people are resistant to warnings, the reasons for this, and what can be done about it. Her research demonstrates that our brains aren’t just shaped by the past; they are constantly being shaped by the future.

Tali is a neuroscientist, and principal investigator at the Affective Brain Lab, which investigates how motivation and emotion determine our expectations of the future, our everyday decisions, our memories and our ability to learn. She is also a faculty member of the department of Cognitive Perceptual and Brain Sciences at University College London.


In her book, The optimism bias: why we’re wired to look on the bright side, she reviews findings from both social science and neuroscience that point to an interesting conclusion: "our brains aren't just stamped by the past; they are constantly being shaped by the future."

Optimism bias involves the belief that the future will be much better than the past or present – assigning higher probabilities to events with a more favourable outcome – and most of us display this bias. As she puts it: “we’re more optimistic than realistic, and we’re oblivious about it.” An example: Divorce rates in the western world weigh in at about 40%. Yet when you ask newlyweds to rate their own likelihood of divorce, they more than likely put the figure at 0%.


In her own work, she investigates how our natural optimism even shapes what we remember, encompassing behavioural research (how likely we are to misremember major events) as well searching for specific brain centres where optimism resides.

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Cognitive Neuroscientist