Rice University

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Lecture/Lecture Series


Speaker: John H. Byrne
University of Texas Medical School

Scientia Institute:Neural Networks: Brain Circuitry for Processing Information, Generating Rhythms, and Learning and Remembering

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
4:00 PM  to 5:00 PM

McMurtry Auditorium  George R. Brown Hall
Rice University
6100 Main St
Houston, Texas, USA

While networks of social behavior (culture and society) and learning networks (knowledge) are an integral part of our everyday world, these networks operate from networks of hundreds of billions of interconnected nerve cells composing the three pounds of jelly-like material found within our skull. Although the operation of many neuronal networks are still mysterious, neuroscientists are beginning to understand the basic principles of the individual nodes (nerve cells) and the network architecture enabling information processing and the generation of behavior. This lecture will review the basic electrical properties of nerve cells and the ways in which they communicate with each other through chemical transmitters. Despite the vast complexity of brain networks, reflex behaviors, locomotion, and elementary visual information processing can be understood in terms of several elementary micro network motifs consisting of just a few neurons. Nano networks of biochemical and genetic cascades within nerve cells support the operation of the micro networks. The micro networks form macro networks for higher brain functions such as perception.

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