Starting with the work of Galvani in the 18th century and ending with modern, super-computer approaches, this talk aims to give an overview of the basics of how neurons underlie the natural computation that takes place in the nervous system. I will cover some of the techniques that have been used for measuring activity in the nervous system at different spatial and temporal scales, how it came to be thought that neurons are the basic computational unit of the brain, how information flows through neurons and how neurons wire together to form synapses – the changing strengths of which are thought to represent the storage of memories. The talk will end with a discussion of some recent speculative theories of how the neocortex – the brain region where our high level thought processes take place – might work.
- Magnus Richardson took his undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Oxford, where he stayed on to complete his doctorate in theoretical physics in 1997. After three years of postdoctoral research at the Weizmann Institute in physics and mathematics in 2000 he moved to the Ecole Normale Superieure to study the cellular origins of oscillations in neural networks. Following four years at the EPFL Brain Mind Institute from 2002-2006, he took up his current position of Associate Professor at the Systems Biology Centre, University of Warwick where his research aims to understand emergent states of activity in networks of neurons.