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Our brains allow us to multitask and perform complicated calculations. How does such a complex organ develop? Advanced techniques such as growing mini-brains in dishes and computational modelling are allowing scientists to study brain development up close. Dr. John Mason and Dr. Matthias Hennig will share with us the various ways that scientists have tackled the most complex organ in our bodies.
Building Brains in a Dish - using stem cells to understand how the brain develops
Dr. John Mason (Reader in Developmental Neurobiology)
The human brain is arguably the most complex biological structure that we know about. Scientists have long wondered how such a complex structure gets put together during development and we believe that understanding normal brain development will help us to devise better treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders. Until recently, most work in the field of brain development has relied on the use of animals, but a recent breakthrough has shown that brain-like tissue can be grown in the lab from stem cells. I will describe how this is done and talk about some of the things that we hope to learn.
Building Networks in a Computer - using computational modelling to understand the brain
Dr. Matthias Hennig (Reader, Computational Neuroscience and Neuroinformatics)
The human brain is made up of 100 billion neurons which are in communication with one another within relevant circuits. It is crucial that this system is tightly regulated, as when these circuits form incorrectly, it can be linked to the occurrence of disorders. We will discuss how computational modelling can be used to understand how this system is kept in balance and harmony, allowing for effective function.