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Brain Evolution to be Explored During UA College of Science Lecture Series
This year’s talks, beginning Jan. 27, will focus on how brains originated and where the evolution of our own brain will take us.
The University of Arizona College of Science's popular spring lecture series will present six free lectures exploring the evolution of the astonishingly complex human brain.
The topics to be covered over the entire series include brain imaging, the history of brain surgery, the ancestral circuits that can be found in the modern brain and the essentially perfect way our brains solve problems. The first lecture will be on Monday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. in Centennial Hall on the UA campus.
The human brain is the product of hundreds of millions of years of evolution.
Layered upon its ancestral core of ancient molecules and neural circuits, new structures evolved that expand the capacity of our brains to process information flexibly and to perform complex behaviors.
Human brains are continuously remodeled by environmental forces and by the enormous sum of information and technologies generated by human inventiveness. These new technologies further expand our power to manipulate information and interact with countless others in remote environments that once were far beyond our reach.
Today sophisticated techniques allow us to probe the structure and function of our own brains and those of other species to better understand how brains originated and where the evolution of our own brain will take us.
All “The Evolving Brain” lectures are free and open to the public. The lectures will be held at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., on the UA campus. Pay visitor parking is available in the Tyndall Avenue Garage, 880 E. Fourth St.
The scheduled lectures:
Jan. 27 | Time Traveling: What Our Brains Share With Beetle Brains
Director, Center for Insect Science
UA Regents’ Professor of Neuroscience
Emerging evidence suggests that distantly related animals such as mice and flies manifest similar behaviors because they have genealogically corresponding brain centers. The view is that a common ancestor had already evolved circuits for behavioral actions, memory of such actions, and their consequences more than half a billion years ago. Evidence that those circuits have been inherited through geological time challenges how we as a species relate to animals that we view as wholly different from ourselves.
Feb. 3 | A Window Into the Brain: Viewed Through the Evolution of MRI Technology
Chair, Department of Medical Imaging
Professor of Medicine
UA College of Medicine
The evolution of MRI technology and its use to study brain structure and function has revealed much of what we know today about the evolving brain and has revolutionized clinical care. Rich visual content will be used to illustrate the technical elements that have been pieced together over time to form the modern MRI scanner. Each element of MRI technology will be introduced from the historical timeline as the scanner system is built piece-by-piece for the audience. Milestones and personalities will be introduced to add meaning and significance, showing the innovative spirit and creativity of this technology’s development.
Feb. 10 | The Evolution of Modern Neurosurgery: A History of Trial and Error, Success and Failure
Chief, Division of Neurosurgery
Professor of Surgery
UA College of Medicine
The science and art of neurosurgery has advanced dramatically in the past few decades, and yet its history is firmly grounded in a paradigm of surgical trial and error. Collaborations with allied specialties have made these “trials” safer, but much of what we know of functional brain anatomy comes from disease or iatrogenic (harm resulting from medical examination or treatment) perturbations. This lecture will explore the keen observations and dogged persistence that led to our current state of the art. We will explore how this surgical knowledge of the brain makes our current practice safer and how future technologies will advance our understanding with less invasive but more meaningful impact.
Feb. 17 | The Literate Brain