Synapses, Neurons and Brains2013
You will become intimately acquainted with the operational principles of neuronal "life-ware" (synapses, neurons and the networks that they form) as well as with recent ideas about how the dynamics of these networks generate the "neuronal code." As an aperitif we will highlight present brain-excitements and for dessert we will discuss the future of brain research
About the Course
Probably the greatest challenge of the "21st century of the brain" is to understand how subcellular and cellular neuronal processes give rise to behavior - movement, perception, emotions, memory and creativity. This course will discuss, step-by-step, how modern molecular, optical, electrical, anatomical and theoretical methods have provided fascinating insights into the operation of the elementary building blocks of brains and, most importantly, how neuronal mechanisms underlie memory and learning processes. We will next discuss why computer simulations are so essential for understanding both neuronal "life ware" and the emergence of networks dynamics (e.g., as in the "Blue Brain Project").
The course will start by highlighting a few recent brain-excitements, including treating the sick brain via electrical stimulation, recent attempts at "reading the brain code" for brain-machine interfaces, new neuro-anatomical techniques ("Brainbow" and connectomics) and physiological methods (optogenetics) that enables us to record/activate the living, behaving brain at single cell resolution. We will end by discussing emerging frontiers in brain research, including the interaction between brain research and the arts. As an added bonus, several lectures will be taught by acclaimed neuroscientists who are experts in their respective field.
1. Brain excitements for the 21st century
2. The materialistic mind - your brain's ingredients
3. Electrifying brains -passive electrical signals
4. Electrifying brains - active electrical spikes
5. Neurons as plastic/dynamic devices
6. Cable theory and dendritic computations
7. Cortical networks - out of the Blue Brain Project
8. Perception, action, cognition and emotions (guest lecturer, Prof. Israel Nelken)
9. From synapses to free will?