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How are human brain cells special?
Lou Beaulieu-Laroche (PhD Candidate in Brain & Cognitive Sciences, MIT)
The human brain contains approximately 86 billion brain cells, or neurons. Our understanding of information processing in individual neurons comes almost exclusively from work in rodent brains. However, it is unknown whether human neurons process information in the same way. Using live human brain samples from neurosurgical patients, we reveal that human neurons have unique features. Our results provide a new lens into understanding the advanced cognitive abilities of the human brain.
How do differences in our early childhood experiences change our brain development?
Rachel Romeo (Fellow in the Translational Postdoctoral Training Program in Neurodevelopment at Boston Children’s Hospital and MIT)
The vast majority of our brain development occurs within the first few years of life, and children's very early experiences can shape their brain architecture for many years to come. My research aims to better understand how variation in these early experiences, both favorable and adverse, relates to developmental diversity and disparities. In this talk, I will briefly discuss some recent work examining how children's socioeconomic status and early language experiences relate to their brain development and academic trajectories.
What’s it useful for? What we can (and can’t) learn about disease from developing new methods to study model systems
Kristina Kitko (Postdoctoral associate in Media Arts & Sciences, MIT)
Modern neuroscience is witnessing enormous growth in tools and techniques that allow the study of the brain with unprecedented control and at unprecedented resolution. I will highlight the strengths – and limitations – of what new methods designed for the study of animal models can tell us about human health and disease.
Molecular fMRI: Creating the Means to See the Unseeable
Ben Bartelle (Research Scientist at the Center for Neurobiological Engineering, MIT)
The full complexity of a living brain cannot be reduced to experiments in a dish, but we lack the tools to study the whole mammalian brain as the dynamical molecular system it is. The one technology that can visualize the whole mammalian brain, non-invasively, with molecular specificity is MRI, and with the right sensors, we can resolve a panoply of brain functions in living subjects. I will share the process of developing MRI biosensors, from synthetic molecules to nanoparticles to genetic engineering. These are the foundational technologies of the new field of “molecular fMRI.”
The Problem of Perception
Dana Boebinger (PhD student in the Harvard-MIT program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology)
Perception is the process by which the brain gathers & interprets information about the world that it receives through our senses. But perception is much more than a passive relay of information from your eyes and ears to your brain. Instead, your brain interprets information sent from your sensory organs, and actively creates your perception of the world. Despite the ease with which you are able to see and hear the world around you, this process is actually extremely complex. In this talk, we'll explore how our brains make sense of our sensations, and what happens when this process goes wrong