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Biological Physics Seminar (CPLC): Vijay Balasubramanian, “The Maps Inside Your Head”

Event Type
Seminar/Symposium
Sponsor
Jun Song
Location
144 Loomis
Date
Oct 6, 2017   2:00 pm  
Speaker
Vijay Balasubramanian, University of Pennsylvania
Cost
N/A
Contact
Sandra Patterson
E-Mail
skpttrsn@illinois.edu
Phone
217-333-3393
Views
49
Originating Calendar
Physics - Physics of Living Cells Seminar

Abstract:  How do our brains make sense of a complex and unpredictable world? In this talk, I will discuss a physicist's approach to the neural topography of information processing in the brain. First I will review the brain's architecture, and how neural circuits map out the sensory and cognitive worlds. Then I will describe how highly complex sensory and cognitive tasks are carried out by the cooperative action of many specialized neurons and circuits, each of which has a simple function. I will illustrate my remarks with one sensory example and one cognitive example. For the sensory example, I will consider the sense of smell ("olfaction"), whereby humans and other animals distinguish vast arrays of odor mixtures using very limited neural resources. For the cognitive example, I will consider the "sense of place", that is, how animals mentally represent their physical location. Both examples demonstrate that brains have evolved neural circuits that exploit sophisticated principles of mathematics - principles that scientists have only recently discovered.

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