The human brain is like a city

“The brain is like a city. Cities develop and grow bigger and may get problems with roads and infrastructure, which is similar to what happens to our brains when we get older”, said Håkan Fischer, Professor of Biological Psychology at the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University, and one of the panelists in the show.

“The most advanced biological information processing system is the human brain” says Anders Lansner, Professor of Computational Biology at Stockholm University and Affiliated Professor of Computer science at KTH, The Royal Institute of Technology.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, an American neuroanatomist, joining the debate via Skype, described her experience living a stroke whilst being a brain researcher: “The stroke gave me a completely different perspective of the brain and how it functions”, she said.

“I look at the brain as a collection of cells and how they are connected and how I can rebuild them, and that helped me in my own recovery”, Dr Bolte Taylor said. She currently works on educational services related to the advancement of brain awareness.

The brain needs constant change

Affective brain imaging, brain development and neuronal stimulation were also topics discussed.

“The RNA code is changing which means that the protein is changing during development. These enzyme changes are essential. We need to have the possibility to change to be complete”, said Marie Öhman, Professor of Molecular Biosciences at Stockholm University, adding that RNA is changing whilst the DNA is not.

All of the panellists try to simplify the model of the brain, looking into its different aspects and cognitive functions, in relation to understanding humanity via the brain’s functionality.

Dialogue with the audience

Students in the audience are always welcomed to ask questions during the last session of the recording. Here are some thoughts from the students in the audience about the show:

“There is always a good combination of researchers, which are completing each other. We learn a lot, it is definitely infotainment!” said Diana, Mexican PhD student at the Psychology Department at Stockholm University.

“Great show, keep going!”, said Fernando, Colombian Post-Doc in psychology at Stockholm University from Colombia.

An academic talk show

The academic web talk show Crosstalks is co-produced by Stockholm University and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). It is an international academic forum where the brightest minds share knowledge and insights on the basis on leading research. The recording is always open to students to attend for free.

Next Crosstalks on Artificial Intelligence

The next episode of Crosstalks on “The promise and threat of artificial intelligence” will be broadcast online on 21 May at 6 PM with the participation of the following guests:

  • Theo Kanter, Professor of Computer Science at the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University
  • Christian Smith, Assistant Professor in computer science, KTH, The Royal Institute of Technology.
  • Kristina Nilsson Björkenstam, PhD, Computational Linguistics, Stockholm University
  • Skype: Jürgen Schmidhuber, Professor in Artificial Intelligence, Scientific director at the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA

Watch the full programme on the human brain (50 minutes).

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