Takao K. Hensch



  • Program Co-Director
  • Child & Brain Development


  • Harvard University
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology


  • United States


PhD (Neuroscience), University of California, San Francisco


Takao Hensch is a neurobiologist whose research focuses on critical periods in brain development.

By applying cellular and molecular biology techniques to neural systems, his lab identified pivotal inhibitory circuits that orchestrate structural and functional rewiring of connections in response to early sensory experience.

More recently, Hensch has focused on molecular ‘brakes,’ which actively limit plasticity in the adult brain. His work impacts not only basic understanding of brain development, but also therapeutic approaches to devastating cognitive disorders, recovery from brain injury later in life and, potentially, education policy.


Director, WPI International Research Center for Neurointelligence, 2017
Director, NIMH Silvio Conte Center, 2010 (renewed 2018)
Sackler Prize for Developmental Psychobiology, 2016
NIH Director's Pioneer Award, 2007
U.S. Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award, 2005
Young Investigator Award-Tsukahara Prize, 2001

Relevant Publications

Hensch, T.K. "Critical period regulation." Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 27 (2004): 549–79.
Hensch, T.K., and M. Fagiolini, eds. Excitatory-Inhibitory Balance: Synapses, Circuits, Systems. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2004.

Takesian AE, Bogart LJ, Lichtman JW, Hensch TK. “Inhibitory circuit gating of auditory critical-period plasticity.” Nature Neuroscience. 21(2): 218-227 (2018).

Werker JF, Hensch TK. “Critical periods in speech perception: new directions.” Annu Rev Psychol. 66:173-96 (2015).


Hensch Lab