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Epistimones

Epistimones

By Paco Chow and Megan Lee

Conversations with experts about their work in neuroscience, synthetic biology, mathematics, and various other academic fields to make science accessible to everyone.

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#10 – Shelley Adamo: How parasites control minds

Epistimones

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#30 – Armin Lak: Dopaminergic circuits in decision making
#30 – Armin Lak: Dopaminergic circuits in decision making
Armin Lak is a neuroscientist and is a Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the University of Oxford, studying the neuronal circuits that govern learning and decision making. In particular, his research focuses on the role of dopaminergic neurons in different types of decision making through a combination of state-of-the-art neuronal circuit tools with novel behavioural methods and computational models. TIMESTAMPS (00:35) – Most beautiful aspect about biology (09:32) – Dopamine (11:34) – Reward prediction error hypothesis (22:41) – Decision making (33:41) – Incentive salience theory (39:04) – Computing value in the brain (44:10) – Experimental and computational techniques (50:42) – What is the right level of explanation (53:18) – Favourite part about doing science (55:04) – Wolfram Schultz (57:49) – Advice for young scientists
01:00:05
January 28, 2023
#29 – Chaitanya Gokhale: Theoretical eco-evolutionary dynamics
#29 – Chaitanya Gokhale: Theoretical eco-evolutionary dynamics
Chaitanya Gokhale is a research group leader in theoretical eco-evolutionary dynamics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology. His lab uses theoretical biology to elucidate the associations and interactions that power emergent complexity at multiple scales. TIMESTAMPS (00:35) – Natural and synthetic gene drives  (08:54) – Population dynamics of gene drives  (14:50) – Mating complexity on gene drive dynamics  (28:00) Evolutionary game theory  (41:38) Single games vs multiple games  (56:44) – Mutualism  (1:07:00) – Origin of his interest in theoretical biology  (1:16:13) – Advice for aspiring scientists
01:18:21
September 22, 2022
#28 – Oriel FeldmanHall: Studying morality in the brain
#28 – Oriel FeldmanHall: Studying morality in the brain
Oriel FeldmanHall is the Alfred Manning Associate Professor of Cognitive, Linguistics and Psychological Sciences at Brown University. Her research focuses on studying the neural basis of moral decision making, altruism, and socio-emotional decision making. Specifically, she uses techniques from different fields like behavioural economics, social psychology, imaging and psychophysiology to disentangle the cognitive and neural processes behind the complex choices that shape human social behaviour. TIMESTAMPS (00:45) – What is morality (03:21) – Why do humans have morality (08:40) – Neurobiology of moral decision making (19:53) – Studying moral decision making (32:36) – What is the right level of explanation (33:58) – Engineering morality (35:54) – Oriel’s journey in science (41:08) – Advice for young scientists
42:57
September 14, 2022
#27 – Adam Packer: Simultaneous manipulation and recording of neural activity with light
#27 – Adam Packer: Simultaneous manipulation and recording of neural activity with light
Adam Packer is a neuroscientist and a Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the University of Oxford. He has helped pioneered all-optical interrogation techniques that allow simultaneous manipulation and recording of neural circuit activity with cellular resolution in vivo, and his research focuses on using these techniques to investigate how complex spatiotemporal activity patterns in neural circuits drive behaviour. TIMESTAMPS (00:40) – Most beautiful aspect of biology (02:26) – What is the right level of explanation (06:45) – Measuring neural activity (17:38) – Manipulating neural activity (21:35) – Optogenetics (27:10) – Determining causality (37:44) – Using light to measure and manipulate neural activity (49:32) – Voltage imaging (53:24) – New insights (55:06) – Adam’s journey in science (1:03:28) – Consciousness (1:05:18) – Theory in neuroscience (1:07:19) – Progress in neuroscience (1:08:14) – Advice for young scientists
01:10:44
September 04, 2022
#26 – Christopher McFarland: Cancer evolution
#26 – Christopher McFarland: Cancer evolution
Christopher McFarland is an Assistant Professor in Genetics and Genome Science at Case Western Reserve University. His lab integrates evolutionary theory with quantitative experimentation to better understand tumour biology. TIMESTAMPS (00:28) – Relevance of evolution to cancer  (03:00) – Genome instability in cancer development  (05:14) – Accumulation of deleterious mutations in cancer  (15:50) – Comparison with older ideas in cancer biology  (22:17) – Experimental study of tumour evolution  (35:33) – Cancer therapeutics and treatment  (47:41) – Main challenges for the cancer biology field  (54:49) – His career journey and advice for young scientists
58:42
August 18, 2022
#25 – Will Ratcliff: Multicellularity and social evolution
#25 – Will Ratcliff: Multicellularity and social evolution
Will Ratcliff is an Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech. His lab combines mathematical modelling, synthetic biology and experimental evolution, in particular long term evolution experiments (LTEEs), to study the evolution of multicellularity and the spatial dynamics of microbial social interactions. TIMESTAMPS (00:31) – Categorisation of multicellularity (12:04) – Selection pressure for multicellularity in aggregative organisms (19:40) – Darwinian definition of individuality (23:22) – Experimental study of selection for multicellularity and LTEE (44:50) – Entanglement in biology (48:57) – Is it easy to evolve multicellular life? (58:47) – Using phylogenetic trees (1:07:37) – Microbial social interactions and their spatial dynamics (1:17:25) – Discussion of the article 'Bacterial species rarely work together' (1:28:33) – Advice for young scientists NOTES Free version of the book on evolution of multicellularity: https://t.co/CDQdyW1lXZ MuLTEE thread: https://twitter.com/wc_ratcliff/status/1423359901766602755?s=20&t=UrBEBZZMZQCjeHaw-0vCyg New paper examining clonal development and aggregation directly: https://twitter.com/wc_ratcliff/status/1550585020376649729?s=20&t=UrBEBZZMZQCjeHaw-0vCyg Guide to public speaking: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j4U4VjoTOK5tQLoLxr4W7qfwa35Yy2Dv/view?usp=sharing The article we discussed on bacterial social interactions: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abn5093
01:39:50
August 04, 2022
#24 – Tristram Wyatt: Our unique odour world
#24 – Tristram Wyatt: Our unique odour world
Tristram Wyatt is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford and an emeritus fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford. His research focuses on the evolution of pheromones, these chemical signals transmitted between animals of the same species, influencing social behaviour. Tristram is also an award-winning author, with his Cambridge University Press book on Pheromones and Animal Behaviour winning the Best Postgraduate Textbook Award of the Royal Society of Biology in 2014. TIMESTAMPS (00:45) – Odor detection (13:59) – Pheromones (37:33) – Human pheromones (54:47) – Storytelling in science (1:05:07) – Advice for young scientists
01:08:02
July 10, 2022
#23 – Greg Pask: Decoding the chemical language of ants
#23 – Greg Pask: Decoding the chemical language of ants
Greg Pask is an insect neurobiologist at Middlebury College studying how insects use smell to communicate with each other. In particular, his research focuses on using a range of techniques in molecular biology, genetics, electrophysiology and animal behaviour to understand the mechanisms by which ants detect social cues and how this is necessary for maintaining successful ant colonies. TIMESTAMPS (00:35) – Superorganisms (17:25) – Division of labour in ant colonies (22:14) – How ants communicate (31:47) – Studying ants in the lab (50:42) – How much we know about ant neurobiology (53:26) – Automated recording of ant behaviour (1:02:51) – Other insects (1:04:53) – Greg’s scientific journey (1:10:23) – Favourite part about doing science (1:15:34) – Beauty of evolution (1:17:47) Advice for young scientists
01:19:23
June 23, 2022
#22 – Lisa Monteggia: Ketamine and the neurobiology of antidepressants
#22 – Lisa Monteggia: Ketamine and the neurobiology of antidepressants
Lisa Monteggia is the Barlow Family Director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and Professor of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders like depression, uncovering the mechanisms by which traditional antidepressants like SSRIs exert their antidepressant response and uncovering how exactly more recent antidepressants like ketamine are able to produce an antidepressant response so quickly. TIMESTAMPS (00:43) – Depression (02:22) – History of depression (07:25) – Causes of depression (15:11) – SSRIs and neurotrophins (23:33) – Ketamine (45:30) – Does ketamine fix underlying pathophysiologies? (59:02) – Experimental challenges (1:00:36) – Psychopharmacology (1:02:13) – Advice for young scientists
01:03:22
June 04, 2022
#21 – Elizabeth Bonawitz: How children learn about the world
#21 – Elizabeth Bonawitz: How children learn about the world
Elizabeth Bonawitz is the David J. Vitale Associate Professor of Learning Sciences at Harvard University, studying the psychological and computational mechanisms underlying the learning of causal beliefs. In particular, her research combines cognitive development experiments with computational modeling to study the structure of children’s early causal beliefs, how evidence and prior beliefs interact to affect children’s learning and memory, and how this is affected by social factors, with the broader goal of informing educational practice. TIMESTAMPS (00:42) – Causal reasoning (05:16) – How children learn about causality (28:08) – How is knowledge structured (33:23) – Levels of explanation (36:55) – Studying causal beliefs experimentally (42:13) – Using computational models (47:57) – Problems in the education system (56:39) – Advice for young scientists
58:31
May 06, 2022
#20 – Jose Jimenez: Quantum biology, cell economics and synthetic biology
#20 – Jose Jimenez: Quantum biology, cell economics and synthetic biology
Jose Jimenez is a Senior Lecturer in Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London, whose research occurs at the interface of synthetic biology and evolution. His lab is interested in how evolution shapes the properties of proteins exhibiting quantum mechanisms, cell economics, and the dynamics of complex microbial communities. The applications of this research range from the development of novel methods to fight antibiotic resistance, to the use of engineered microorganisms for the upcycling of plastic waste. TIMESTAMPS (00:48) – What is quantum biology?  (07:28) – Investigating the evolution of quantum systems in biology  (11:28) – Quantum biology and synthetic biology  (14:56) – What can quantum biology explain?  (20:00) – What is cell economics?  (27:10) – Feedback control to reduce the cost of protein synthesis  (32:45) – Cell economics and fundamental biology  (36:50) – Bacterial bet-hedging  (39:07) – Microbial communities in synthetic biology  (46:48) – Potential of manipulating microbial social interactions  (51:28) – Jose's research interests  (56:19) – The landscape of synthetic biology - academia vs industry  (1:03:31) – Advice for young scientists
01:02:56
April 25, 2022
#19 – Ian Maze: Serotonin and the epigenetics of depression
#19 – Ian Maze: Serotonin and the epigenetics of depression
Ian Maze is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. His research involves studying the chromatin-based mechanisms of adult cognitive and psychiatric disorders like addiction and major depression, in particular how monoamines like serotonin and dopamine can act as epigenetic regulators to influence gene expression, and the implications in disease and treatment. TIMESTAMPS (00:42) – Epigenetics (15:20) – Serotonin and depression (18:42) – Serotonylation (36:20) – Depression and epigenetics (40:12) – Dopaminylation (42:20) – Studying epigenetics of psychiatric disorders (48:48) – Future of depression diagnosis and treatment (51:40) – Ian’s academic journey (57:00) – Advice for young scientists
58:24
March 11, 2022
#18 – Jenny Saffran: How babies learn language
#18 – Jenny Saffran: How babies learn language
Jenny Saffran is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying how infants use statistical learning – the detection of pattern and regularities in the environment, to learn about the structure of language. Language learning is a highly complex problem and is not a trivial task for an infant, but behavioral experiments from Jenny’s labs have led to many insights into how infants solve this task. TIMESTAMPS (00:38) – What is language (08:33) – Structure of human languages (19:58) – Language and intelligence (23:57) – Is language innate (40:44) – How babies learn language (57:10) – Learning different languages (1:07:12) – Psychologists, linguists, and neuroscientists (1:10:21) – Studying language in babies (1:15:33) – Jenny’s academic journey (1:23:30) – Natural language processing (1:31:44) – Advice for young scientists NOTES Seeing faces is necessary for face-patch formation (Arcaro et al., 2017)
01:35:36
March 03, 2022
#17 – Irene Tracey: Perceiving pain
#17 – Irene Tracey: Perceiving pain
Irene Tracey is a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, using neuroimaging tools to study the neurobiological mechanisms of pain perception in acute and chronic pain, as well how states of consciousness are altered with anaesthetics. Until recently, she held the Nuffield Chair of Anaesthetic Sciences, and was Head of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Director of the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain. She is currently the Warden of Merton College in Oxford and has recently been appointed CBE for her services to medical research. TIMESTAMPS (00:48) – Why we feel pain (06:09) – Mechanisms of pain perception (17:54) – Modulating pain perception (22:37) – Pain tolerance (26:07) – Chronic pain (32:39) – Studying pain experimentally (46:14) – Empathy (48:57) – Advice for young scientists
51:29
February 17, 2022
#16 – Kent Berridge: Dopamine, desire and pleasure
#16 – Kent Berridge: Dopamine, desire and pleasure
Kent Berridge is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan, studying the neurobiology and brain systems underlying psychological processes like motivation, pleasure, craving, and addiction. His research has shown a dissociation between reward liking and reward wanting, and has led him to propose the Incentive Salience Hypothesis of dopamine, which states that dopamine mediates wanting and craving but not liking and pleasure. Contrary to popular belief, dopamine is not a pleasure molecule, and its psychological function remains highly controversial. TIMESTAMPS (00:51) – Dopamine (02:59) – Is dopamine a pleasure molecule? (09:11) – Liking vs wanting (15:03) – Incentive Salience Theory (18:22) – Dopamine and learning (33:59) – Neurobiology and evolution of pleasure (41:14) – Why people have different preferences (45:09) – Experimental techniques and challenges (51:05) – Pleasure in life (54:26) – Advice for young scientists
55:58
February 10, 2022
#15 – Juan Caicedo: Deep learning algorithms for cell imaging
#15 – Juan Caicedo: Deep learning algorithms for cell imaging
Juan Caicedo is a Schmidt Fellow and computer scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, working at the intersection of biology and machine learning. His research involves the use of deep learning and machine learning approaches to analyze microscopy images and genetic data for decoding cellular phenotypes and their interactions in order to gain deeper insights into basic cell biology, how disease affects cells, and to test different types of treatments in a high-throughput manner. TIMESTAMPS (00:45) – Image-based profiling (26:15) – Algorithms for cell image segmentation (59:10) – Characterizing cell phenotypes (1:06:48) – Imaging interactions between cells (1:11:19) – Cancer (1:16:26) – Future of personalized medicine (1:20:27) – Advice for young scientists
01:23:52
February 03, 2022
#14 – Randy Gallistel: Rethinking the neurobiology of memory
#14 – Randy Gallistel: Rethinking the neurobiology of memory
Randy Gallistel is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, studying the cellular substrate of learning and memory. He is one of the biggest critics of the mainstream hypothesis that synaptic plasticity is the neurobiological basis of memory, and has argued for the cell-intrinsic hypothesis of memory storage – the idea that memory is stored in intracellular molecules. TIMESTAMPS (00:36) – Memory and computation (24:42) – Critique of the synaptic plasticity hypothesis of memory (41:48) – Number coding   (55:48) – Computational theory of mind vs Connectionism (01:08:54) – The synaptic plasticity debate (1:26:15) – Cell-intrinsic hypothesis of memory storage (2:16:30) – Resistance against the cell-intrinsic hypothesis (2:31:57) – Neural networks (2:40:56) – Favourite part of science (2:46:12) – Meaning of life (2:47:18) – Advice for young scientists  NOTES Hessameddin Akhlaghpour's paper showing RNA can be a computation system: An RNA-based theory of natural universal computation Book about information theory – Spikes: Exploring the Neural Code
02:55:11
January 22, 2022
#13 – Kate Jeffery: Evolution, complexity, and how brains represent space
#13 – Kate Jeffery: Evolution, complexity, and how brains represent space
Kate Jeffery is a Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience at University College London, researching how the brain assembles sensory information into an internal representation of space for navigation. Her current research focuses on how the brain represents complex space like three dimensional space, as well as the internal sense of direction. She founded and is currently the director of the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at UCL, and is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Institute of Navigation. TIMESTAMPS (00:48) – Entropy and life (05:58) – Evolutionary transitions (19:36) – Evolution of spatial navigation (22:37) – Discovering the neural representations of space (35:54) – Spatial maps (1:05:25) – Mapping 3D space (1:30:35) – Mapping arbitrary dimensions (1:36:18) – Kate’s journey into neuroscience (1:48:10) – Existential risks (1:58:55) – Meaning of life (2:04:18) – Extraterrestrial life (2:07:45) – Advice for young scientists
02:10:01
January 05, 2022
#12 – Thomas Gorochowski: Programming biology
#12 – Thomas Gorochowski: Programming biology
Thomas Gorochowski is a synthetic biologist and Royal Society University Research Fellow based in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol. His lab applies tools from synthetic biology for the rational engineering of biological systems, to both provide insights into how biology controls the complex processes sustaining life, and to tackle problems spanning the sustainable production of materials to novel therapeutics. TIMESTAMPS (00:41) – Bioprogramming and genetic circuits  (10:52) – Simplicity vs complexity in genetic circuit design  (13:59) – Applications of control theory  (19:15) – Evolution and genetic circuits  (23:29) – Breaking down the complexity of evolution  (30:00) – Paradigm shifts in bioprogramming  (31:30) – Improving robustness by controlling evolution  (36:50) – Crosstalk between computer science and biology  (40:00) – Thomas' career path  (47:00) – Advice for aspiring synthetic biologists
49:04
November 24, 2021
#11 – Vandana Ravindran: Modelling biological networks
#11 – Vandana Ravindran: Modelling biological networks
Vandana Ravindran is a computational biologist at the Oslo Center for Biostatistics and Epidemiology. Her research involves applying mathematical modelling, specifically complex network analysis, to understand viral interactions in relation to cancer. TIMESTAMPS (00:29) – Basis of complex network analysis to understand biology  (06:02) – Understanding viral infection  (09:37) – Machine learning methods vs experimental data  (23:05) – Modelling cancer signalling pathways  (33:15) – Bridging the gap between computational and experimental work  (37:12) – How to get into the field (39:15) – Advice for young scientists
40:13
November 15, 2021
#10 – Shelley Adamo: How parasites control minds
#10 – Shelley Adamo: How parasites control minds
Shelley Adamo is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University and is an expert in Ecoimmunology and Comparative Psychoneuroimmunology. Her research uses invertebrate model systems to explore the mechanistic relationship between behavior and physiology, one fascinating example being how and why some parasites are able to control the host’s behavior for its own ends. TIMESTAMPS (00:36) – Parasites (06:46) – Parasitic mind control (27:40) – Pest control (29:36) – Can parasites control human behavior (40:20) – What parasites can teach us about behavior (44:46) – Experimentally studying parasites (54:00) – How Shelley got interested in parasites (57:47) – Mathematical modelling (1:00:20) – Immune system and behavior (1:07:16) – Control of behavior (1:09:16) – Advice for young scientists
01:10:39
November 08, 2021
#9 – Ege Kavalali: How neurons communicate
#9 – Ege Kavalali: How neurons communicate
Ege Kavalali is a Professor of Pharmacology and Acting Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, and is also the William Stokes Chair in Experimental Therapeutics. His research focuses on understanding the fundamentals of how synaptic communication occurs between neurons under healthy circumstances and understanding how abnormalities in this process leads to psychiatric, neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders. TIMESTAMPS (00:39) – Most beautiful aspect of the brain (01:50) – Reductionism (03:25) – History of understanding how neurons communicate (05:40) – Principles of neurotransmission (09:16) – Forms of neurotransmitter release (16:27) – Function of spontaneous release (25:59) – How is spontaneous release regulated (36:05) – Discovering mechanisms of spontaneous release (39:47) – Studying neurotransmission experimentally (44:44) – Biggest experimental challenges (48:06) – Neurotransmission in disease (52:42) – Progress in neuroscience (54:10) – Advice for young scientists
56:48
October 30, 2021
#8 – Chris Eliasmith: Reverse engineering the brain
#8 – Chris Eliasmith: Reverse engineering the brain
Chris Eliasmith is the current Director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, and is a Professor of Philosophy and Systems Design Engineering. Chris works on understanding how the brain processes information through reverse engineering and simulating the human brain using his large scale brain model called SPAUN, which is now able to perform many impressive perceptual, motor and cognitive tasks at human-level performance. He has also written a book ‘How to Build a Brain’, in which he writes about his approach to understanding the brain and explores all of the concepts and details in SPAUN. TIMESTAMPS (00:49) – Most beautiful aspect of the brain (03:50) – Reverse engineering the brain (08:43) – SPAUN (22:56) – Building SPAUN (38:14) – Thoughts and consciousness (42:49) – Artificial intelligence (47:36) – Other large scale brain models (51:57) – What attracted Chris to theoretical neuroscience (56:22) – How to get involved in building a brain (1:01:02) – Neuromorphic computing (1:08:51) – Grand unified theories of the brain (1:16:17) – Neuralink (1:20:09) – Is Chris just another SPAUN? (1:21:44) – Advice for young scientists
01:23:25
October 16, 2021
#7 – Nick Yeung: Thinking about thinking
#7 – Nick Yeung: Thinking about thinking
Nick Yeung is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, studying the metacognitive and neural mechanisms of human thinking and reasoning. In particular, his research examines how people evaluate their decisions, why our minds wander, and how different cognitive functions are coordinated through attentional mechanisms. TIMESTAMPS (00:26) – Nature of thoughts (08:40) – Thoughts and the self (20:12) – Dreaming, mindwandering, and creativity (23:04) – Metacognition (31:23) – Neural basis of metacognition (35:40) – Metacognition and learning (37:50) – Experimental approaches (41:10) – Do animals have thoughts (43:47) – Computational models (51:16) – Psychology vs neuroscience (54:24) – Consciousness (58:02) – Free will (1:01:26) – Advice for young scientists
01:03:36
October 06, 2021
#6 – Kerry Walker: How and why we hear
#6 – Kerry Walker: How and why we hear
Kerry Walker is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, studying the neural mechanisms of auditory perception. Her research focuses on understanding how the coordinated activity of neural populations in human and animal brains lead to representations of pitch, rhythm, location, and other features of sound. TIMESTAMPS (00:30) – Why we perceive sound (02:43) – Subjective perception of sound (07:43) – How sound is processed (11:17) – Sound localisation (13:34) – Shape of animal ears (15:04) – Hearing range (16:39) – Hearing and speaking (17:31) – Pitch perception (22:20) – Studying auditory perception in the lab (32:52) – Kerry’s scientific journey (38:05) – Music (44:46) – Cochlear implant (49:13) – Neuralink (53:47) – Common mechanism underlying all senses (57:01) – Advice for young scientists
57:56
October 01, 2021
#5 – Russell Foster: Biological clockwork
#5 – Russell Foster: Biological clockwork
Russell Foster is a world leading Professor of Circadian Neuroscience and is the Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophtalmology and Director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford. His research addresses the neuroscience of vision and circadian rhythms, as well as the health consequences of sleep disruption. His work on the discovery of photosensitive retinal ganglion cells in the mammalian retina has revolutionized our understanding of how light entrains our circadian rhythms. Russell is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences and has co-written four popular science books on circadian rhythms. TIMESTAMPS (00:50) – Importance of biological clocks (5:36) – Sleep is a temporal compartmentalization (9:28) – Why light is important (17:04) – How the body represents time (22:57) – Chronotypes (25:50) – Effect of sunrise and sunset on circadian rhythms (29:28) – Light and circadian rhythms (33:02) – The master clock of the body (36:06) – Discovering photoreceptors of the circadian system (47:40) – Open questions (51:07) – Hacking your circadian rhythm (55:41) – Night shift workers (1:04:04) – Sleep/productivity tradeoff (1:08:06) – Advice for young scientists
01:09:03
September 25, 2021
#4 – Simon Butt: How the brain wires itself
#4 – Simon Butt: How the brain wires itself
Simon Butt is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford working on the developing brain. His research focuses on using developmental genetics to investigate cortical interneuron diversity, and how the genetics and physiology involved determines the emergent circuitry of the cerebral cortex. TIMESTAMPS (00:26) – Magic of neurodevelopment (09:41) – Principles of neurodevelopment (12:46) – How cell fate is specified (20:13) – How neurons know where to send projections (26:49) – Individual differences in brain wiring (29:18) – Nature vs nurture (32:00) – Interneurons (47:28) – How to study neurodevelopment in the lab (53:49) – What mice models tell us about humans (59:37) – Role of mentorship in academia (1:03:32) – Starting a lab (1:08:37) – Life as a PI (1:11:11) – What does it take to be an academic (1:12:49) – Improving academia (1:14:27) – Teaching (1:17:51) – Free will and consciousness (1:22:29) – Progress in neuroscience (1:25:13) – Grand unified theories of the brain (1:27:10) – Advice for young scientists
01:28:41
September 15, 2021
#3 – Andrew Saxe: Deep learning and the brain
#3 – Andrew Saxe: Deep learning and the brain
Andrew Saxe is a theoretical neuroscientist and is a Sir Henry Dale Fellow and Joint Group Leader at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit and Sainsbury Wellcome Centre at UCL. His research focuses on developing a mathematical toolkit for analysing and describing phenomena in neuroscience. Currently, he is working on the theory of deep learning, which uses artificial neural network models, and aims to apply this to explain how learning is instantiated in neural networks in the brain. TIMESTAMPS (00:38) – Nature of intelligence (10:23) – Theoretical neuroscience (11:31) – What attracted Andrew to theoretical neuroscience (12:16) – Best route to get into theoretical neuroscience (16:55) – Collaborating with experimental neuroscientists (25:34) – Artificial vs biological neural networks (34:06) – What deep learning has taught us about the brain (37:32) – Linear neural networks (43:34) – Grand unified theory of neural networks (45:35) – Incorporating biological aspects into neural networks (48:53) – Artificial general intelligence (51:13) – Is maths invented or discovered? (52:29) – Advice for young scientists
54:22
September 09, 2021
#2 – Vladyslav Vyazovskiy: Mysteries of sleep
#2 – Vladyslav Vyazovskiy: Mysteries of sleep
Vladyslav Vyazovskiy is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford and a leading researcher in the field of sleep, studying the dynamics of brain activity and neurophysiological substrates during sleep, in order to answer the question of what is sleep and why is it necessary. He also works on hibernation and torpor, and is part of a project with the European space agency on hibernation and the benefits that this can provide for astronauts and space travel. TIMESTAMPS (0:00) – Introduction (0:40) – Mysteries of sleep (1:29) – What attracted Vlad to sleep and hibernation research (4:02) – Defining sleep (6:09) – Sleep as the default state (13:00) – Why we sleep (22:16) – Sleep is fundamental (24:21) – Sleep homeostasis (26:27) – How the brain represents time (28:52) – Sleep debt (39:56) – Why sleep is good for the body (41:37) – Can humans hibernate (49:39) – Hibernation during space travel (51:48) – Relationship between sleep and hibernation (53:48) – Biggest challenges in studying sleep (57:03) – Advice for young scientists
58:07
August 01, 2021
#1 – Philip Maini: Modelling patterns in nature
#1 – Philip Maini: Modelling patterns in nature
Philip Maini is a Professor of Mathematical Biology at the University of Oxford and is the head of the Centre for Mathematical Biology in the Mathematical Institute. His research includes mathematical modelling of tumours, wound healing and embryonic pattern formation, and the theoretical analysis of these models. TIMESTAMPS (00:00) – Introduction (00:30) – The intersection of maths and biology (06:45) – Mathematical insights from biology (08:02) – The elegance of mathematical biology (10:31) – What attracted Philip to mathematical biology (12:19) – Day to day life in mathematical research (14:35) – Best route to get into mathematical biology (17:42) – The importance of wider mathematical knowledge to make breakthroughs (22:24) – The translation of biological phenomena into a mathematical model (27:09) – Distinguishing between models (29:40) – Turing systems (38:00) – Evolution and pattern formation (41:24) – Shortcomings of the Turing model (43:15) – End goal of mathematical biology (46:01) – The origin of human beauty (50:31) – Alan Turing (51:21) – Progression of science (54:02) – Is maths invented or discovered?
57:60
July 25, 2021