Schedule Sep 30, 2010
How Computers and the Brain are the Same and Different, and How Physics Can Help Explain This
Dr. Charles F. Stevens, Salk Institute

Our brain is arguably the most powerful computer in the known universe. We effortlessly carry out computations, like rapidly recognizing objects in the environment, that are beyond the capabilities of the most powerful non-biological computers. In this talk, I will describe how brains are constructed, compare the specific ways computers and brains are alike and different, and explain why the methods of theoretical physics can help us to understand these differences.

Charles F. "Chuck" Stevens, MD, PhD, is a neurobiologist at the Salk Institute in La Jolla. Dr. Stevens uses electrophysiology, molecular biology, functional imaging, electron and light microscopy, comparative neuroanatomy, and theoretic approaches to elucidate how neuronal circuits compute. He is Vincent J. Coates Professor of Molecular Neurobiology at the Salk Institute and Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology and of Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. He received his B.A. degree in psychology at Harvard University, his M.D. degree at Yale University, and his Ph.D. degree in biophysics at the Rockefeller University for studies with Keffer Harline. He was a member of the faculties at the University of Washington Medical School and at Yale Medical School before joining the Salk Institute. Dr. Stevens is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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