Mapping the brain synapse by synapse to explore the mind
Science & Cocktails is proud to present a special episode with neuroscientist superstar Jeff Lichtman, who will take us on a tour through the brain, the mind, and every single connection that your neurons make. Can we have a complete map of the brain all its connections? And what would it tell us about our own minds? Just before you enter the world of the unknown you will be hearing minimalist punk sounds by Girlcrush.
What does the human brain actually looks like? What is special about the human brain? How do human brains store information? What is connectomics, and why do we do it? What is the relationship between information and understanding?
Human brains are unusual given that most of our behaviours are learned. In what form this learned knowledge is stored is not known. To learn how and where our experiences are stored, Jeff Lichtman has been developing new techniques with the aim of seeing the brain as completely as possible – that is to the level of every single synapse that connects every single nerve cell. We use modern very high-resolution imaging techniques with a good deal of aid from computer scientists at Google to map the wiring diagram that connects nerve cells to each other at synapses. I will describe our studies where we have looked at a few data sets where we have mapped all the connections between nerve cells. As with the development of any new method to apprehend a previously unseen world, the results show many unexpected things.
Event held in English with the generous support of the Lundbeck Foundation.
Photo: The wiring diagram of a human brain revealing connections. Courtesy of the consortium of The Human Connectome Project
Jeff W. Lichtman is Jeremy R. Knowles Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Ramón y Cajal Professor of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. Lichtman is a developmental neurobiologist interested in the way in which experience alters nervous system organization in long lasting ways. He has participated in the development of several methods that describe neural connectivity at the level of individual synapses (connectomics) using fluorescence (e.g., Brainbow) and electron microscopical methods (e.g., ATUM). Lichtman graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in Biology and from Washington University School of Medicine in 1980 with a Ph.D. in Neurobiology and a M.D. After postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School, Lichtman joined the faculty of Washington University and remained there for twenty years before moving to his present position at Harvard in 2004. At Harvard, Professor Lichtman directs the undergraduate program in neuroscience, and the Harvard Center for Biological Imaging (HCBI). Professor Lichtman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.
With their minimalistic punk, girlcrush tells stories of psychic illness, queer love and sex from a queer and feminine perspective. Girlcrush writes songs about the lives that lie outside the heteronormative ideal, and the songs describe emotions such as love, desire and anxiety as non-monogamous, queer and transgender. The band will give a voice to those, who are not heard, and create a sense of recognition and community forqueer and marginalized people.
Live act by
ANADOLU ROCK/PSYCH ROCK – TURKISH/ARABIC WEDDING MUSIC – TURKISH/PERSIAN DISCO – ARABIC TECHNO With roots in Turkey, Dj Berrin Bas creates a soundtapestry of homesickness. Her style is everything from the traditional turkish music, up through modern times, to the neverending psychedelic trip in the 70s and the wildness of weddingparties. She is also the lead singer in the danish-turkish psychrock band Tuhaf, and have been playing concerts for years at venues like Vega, Spot and Amager Bio.