Swartz Mind Brain Lecture March 2014





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Published on Apr 21, 2014

William Newsome, PhD
Professor of Neurobiology
Stanford University, School of Medicine

William Newsome is also the co-chair of Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Working Group, a recent initiative announced by the White House as part of a new Presidential focus aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. more »

Perceiving and Deciding: From Single Neurons to Population Dynamics
For the past half-century, systems neuroscientists have been engaged in a charmingly quixotic quest: to understand sophisticated brain functions such as perception and decision-making by studying 100 billion (or so) nerve cells one at a time! This agenda is roughly similar to understanding the operation of a modern supercomputer by studying it one transistor at a time. The 'single neuron' quest has been far more successful than we had any right to expect at the outset, yet its limitations are becoming increasingly clear. While penetrating insights can still be obtained one-neuron-at-a-time, deeper understanding will require measurements of neural population dynamics combined with incisive new theoretical work.

Drawing from three decades of work in his own laboratory, Dr. Newsome will take us on a no-holds-barred tour of this research progression—including the good, the bad and the ugly. He will close with some educated speculation about what the future holds for brain science and discuss his involvement in President Obama's BRAIN Initiative.

Hosted by the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior.

Monday, March 31, 2014
4:30 pm, Staller Center Main Stage, Stony Brook University
Reception follows the lecture in the Staller Art Gallery.


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