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The Amazing Brain – Confirmed speakers

Sir Colin Blakemore: Six Myths about the Human Brain

We are all told that we only use 10% of our brains, that new nerve cells cannot be created after birth, that regeneration of the brain is impossible, that the brain is unlike any machine, that we are consciously in control of all our actions. But brain research has swept aside many of these assumptions.


The human brain is a vast biological ‘computational’ machine that is constantly changing and adapting to its input and to the demands that are placed on it. Harnessing the capacity for reorganization and repair will not only help us to maintain healthy minds into old age, but might also give us new tools to treat stroke, degenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders.

Shortly about our speaker:
Sir Colin Blakemore is Professor of Neuroscience & Philosophy in the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at Oxford. From 2003-7 he was Chief Executive of the UK Medical Research Council. His research has been concerned with vision, development and plasticity of the brain.

He has been President of the British Science Association, the British Neuroscience Association, the Physiological Society and the Society of Biology. He is strongly committed to engagement between science and the public. He is a frequent contributor on radio and television, and he writes for the British and international media.

Further information:


Edvard Moser: How we find our way: Brain maps for space

The medial entorhinal cortex is part of the brain’s circuit for dynamic mapping of self-location. A key component of this internal map is the grid cell, whose spatial firing fields tile environments in a periodic hexagonal pattern, like in a Chinese checkerboard.

forskarporträtt Moser
The circuit contains also other functional cell types, such as head direction cells, speed cells, and border cells, which are intermingled among the grid cells. In this lecture, I will discuss how these cell types, all within the same neural circuit, form a rich representation of local space that may help us navigate from one place to another.

Shortly about our speaker:
Edvard Moser is a Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. He is interested in how spatial location and spatial memory are computed in the brain.

His work, conducted with May-Britt Moser as a long-term collaborator, includes the discovery of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex, which provides clues to a neural mechanism for the metric of spatial mapping.

The discovery of grid cells was succeeded by identification of other functional cell types, including border cells and speed cells. Collectively the findings point to the entorhinal cortex as a hub for the brain network that makes us find our way.

Together with May-Britt Moser and John O’Keefe, Edvard Moser was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014.

Further information:


Robert T Knight: Decoding Thought from the Human Brain

Recording  neural signals directly from the human brain has provided a new window into how we speak, think and remember.  Here we review some of the neurophysiological mechanisms that support human cognition.

forskarporträtt Knight

We then discuss how this approach can be used to decode imagined speech from the cortex paving the way for the development of a speech neuroprosthesis.

Shortly about our speaker:
Bob Knight obtained his MD from Northwestern Medical School in Chicago and did his Neurology training at the University of California, San Diego.

He has been a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley since 1998 where he  was Director of  the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.

He received the Jacob Javits Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for Distinguished Contributions to Neurological Research and the Career Contribution Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. His laboratory records electrical signals from the human brain to understand goal-directed behavior. 

He also leads an effort to decode speech and thought using direct brain recording with a goal to develop a neuroprosthesis for patients with disabling neurological disorders.

Further information:


Stanislas Dehaene: A close look at the mathematician’s brain?

How do we do mathematics? Which brain circuits change when we learn math? Was Einstein right we he claimed that “Words and language, whether written or spoken, do not seem to play any part in my thought processes”?

forskarporträtt dehaene
In this talk, we will use brain imaging methods to shed light on the origins of this uniquely human ability: mathematics.”

Shortly about our speaker:
Stanislas Dehaene’s research combines the methods of experimental psychology, neuropsychology, neuroimaging and mathematical modeling to dissect the brain mechanisms of some major domains of human competence: mathematics, language processing, and access to consciousness.

Dehaene created simple yet innovative paradigms allowing these complex cognitive function to be studied under laboratory conditions with behavioral and brain-imaging techniques. This approach has resulted in important advances in understanding the brain organization of human cognitive abilities and their pathologies.

Further information:


Dorothy V. M. Bishop: Sex chromosomes, language, autism and the brain: unravelling the mystery

The sex chromosomes differ for males and females: typically, men have an X and a Y chromosome, whereas females have two X chromosomes. However, some children are born with an extra sex chromosome, leading to females with trisomy X (XXX), and males with XXY or XYY chromosomes.

forskarporträtt Bishop
In this talk I will consider how studying these children can throw light on the nature of language disorder and autism, which are far less distinct than is often assumed.

Shortly about our speaker:
Dorothy Bishop, FBA,  FMedSci, FRS is a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology at the University of Oxford, where she heads a programme of research into children’s communication impairments. She is a supernumerary fellow of St John’s College Oxford.

Her main research interests are in the nature and causes of developmental language impairments, with a particular focus on psycholinguistics, neurobiology and genetics.

Beyond psychology, she is active in the field of open science and research reproducibility. As well as publishing in conventional academic outlets, she writes a popular blog with personal reactions to scientific and academic matters (Bishopblog) and tweets as @deevybee.

Further information:


Antonia Hamilton: Inside the interactive brain

People copy things all the time, but why and how?  This talk explores how our brains work during social interactions and what is different in autism, with the help of some rubber ducks.

forskarporträtt Hamilton
Shortly about our speaker:
Dr Hamilton is a Reader in Social Neuroscience and leader of the Social Neuroscience group at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (UCL). 

She completed a PhD on the optimal control of arm movements at UCL in 2002 and has also worked at Dartmouth College (NH, USA) and the University of Nottingham. 

She was awarded the Experimental Psychology Society prize lectureship for 2013.  Her current research interests include how and why people imitate each other, how social skills differ in autism, and the neural mechanisms of social interaction.

Further information:


Robert Zatorre: From Perception to Pleasure: the Brain Basis of Music

Why do we love music? How does the brain allow us to perceive and produce music? How is the brain of a musician specialized?

These inter-related question will be addressed in this lecture which focuses on how brain imaging has been used to understand the neural basis of music, giving us insight into how and why music is so important to our species.

Shortly about our speaker:
Robert Zatorre is a cognitive neuroscientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University. He obtained his PhD in experimental psychology at Brown University in 1981 under the late Peter Eimas and subsequently carried out postdoctoral research at the MNI with Brenda Milner.

forskarporträtt zatorre
His principal interests relate to the neural substrate for auditory cognition, with special emphasis on two complex and characteristically human abilities: speech and music.

He and his collaborators have published over 250 scientific papers on a variety of topics including pitch perception, musical imagery, absolute pitch, music and emotion, perception of auditory space, and brain plasticity in the blind and the deaf.

In 2005 he was named holder of a James McGill chair in Neuroscience.

In 2006 he became the founding co-director (together with Isabelle Peretz) of the international laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound research (BRAMS), a unique multi-university consortium with state-of-the art facilities dedicated to auditory cognitive neuroscience, funded via a $13.8M award from the Canada Fund for Innovation.

In 2011 he was awarded the IPSEN foundation prize in neuronal plasticity, and in 2013 he won the Knowles prize in hearing research from Northwestern University.

He lives in Montreal with his wife and collaborator Virginia Penhune, professor of psychology at Concordia University. He tries to keep up his baroque repertoire on the organ whenever he can get a chance.

Further information:

Miguel Nicolelis: Linking Brains to Machines: From Basic Science to Neurological Neurorehabilitation

In this talk it will be described how state-of-the-art research on brain-machine interfaces makes it possible for the brains of primates to interact directly and in a bi-directional way with mechanical, computational and virtual devices without any interference of the body muscles or sensory organs.

A series of recent experiments using real-time computational models to investigate how ensembles of neurons encode motor information will be reviewed.

forskarporträtt nicolelis
Dr. Nicolelis proposes a new theory of brain function drawing upon decades of neurophysiology and psychology research, which emphasizes the uniqueness of human nature and discredits predictions that the replacement of humans by machines is imminent.

Shortly about our speaker:
Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., is the Duke School of Medicine Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience at Duke University, Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering and Psychology and Neuroscience, and founder of Duke's Center for Neuroengineering.

He is Founder and Scientific Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal. 

Dr. Nicolelis is also founder of the Walk Again Project, an international consortium of scientists and engineers, dedicated to the development of an exoskeleton device to assist severely paralyzed patients in regaining full body mobility.

Dr. Nicolelis has dedicated his career to investigating how the brains of freely behaving animals encode sensory and motor information. As a result of his studies, Dr. Nicolelis was first to propose and demonstrate that animals and human subjects can utilize their electrical brain activity to directly control neuroprosthetic devices via brain-machine interfaces (BMI).

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Nicolelis pioneered and perfected the development of a new neurophysiological method, known today as chronic, multi-site, multi-electrode recordings. Using this approach in a variety of animal species, as well as in intra-operative procedures in human patients, Dr. Nicolelis launched a new field of investigation, which aims at measuring the concurrent activity and interactions of large populations of single neurons throughout the brain.

Through his work, Dr. Nicolelis has discovered a series of key physiological principles that govern the operation of mammalian brain circuits.

Further information:…