The brain is often compared to a computer. But the two are not as similar as one would think. Computers process information whereas the brain interrogates and explores. It seeks information from the environment with a purpose—to answer a question, solve a problem or make a decision. Neuroscience has made great advances in our understanding of how the brain makes decisions, why some are speedy and some are slower and more deliberative. Decisions matter for all animals. For humans, they hold the key to thought, ideation and creative expression. What was once the purview of psychology and philosophy is now a staple of biomedical science. And by elucidating the underlying neural mechanisms that make all this possible, Dr. Shadlen hopes to identify new strategies to confront the neurological and psychiatric disorders that impair cognitive function.
Dr. Shadlen argues that the brain follows simple rules to make both simple and complex decisions. To test this, he studies the brain’s parietal cortex, which helps the brain make sense of what we see in order to guide our behaviors. With implications for medicine, his research could shed light on why people with damage to the parietal cortex have trouble with various skills, such as understanding numbers. It could also lead to new ways to treat the effects of this damage.
RSVP by Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Registration is required via EventBrite; seating is first come, first served. This lecture will also be live streamed on February 7, 2018.