Will We Ever Understand the Brain?

Can we solve nature’s mysteries by creating a complete computer model of our brain? Or is the brain an unsolvable puzzle? Two leading neuroscientists will discuss.

Event Details


California Academy of Sciences
5 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, California 94118 United States


November 03, 2011 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

As neuroscientists are learning more and more about our body’s hidden frontier, we have gained fleeting insights into our own intuition, habits, and seemingly unexplainable preferences. Can we solve those mysteries by creating a complete computer model of our brain? Or is the brain an unsolvable puzzle? Two leading neuroscientists will discuss. http://www.calacademy.org/events/lectures/#110211


David Eagleman

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and a New York Times bestselling author. He directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action at the Baylor College of Medicine, where he also directs the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. He is best known for his work on time perception, synesthesia, and neurolaw. At night he writes. His work of fiction, SUM, is an international bestseller published in 23 languages. His book on the internet and civilization, Why the Net Matters, is available as an app for the iPad and as an eBook. His latest book, the New York Times bestseller Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, explores the neuroscience “under the hood” of the conscious mind — that is, all the aspects of neural function to which we have no awareness or access. Eagleman has recently been named one of Houston’s most stylish men, a Next Generation Texas Fellow, and a Guggenheim Fellow.


Henry Markram

Henry Markram is the Coordinator of the Human Brain Project, a proposed international effort to understand the human brain. His research career started in medicine and neuroscience in South Africa, then at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, at NIH and UCSF in the United States, and the Max-Planck Institute in Germany. In 2002, he joined the EPFL, where he founded the Brain Mind Institute. His career has spanned a wide spectrum of neuroscience research, from whole animal studies to gene expression in single cells. He is best known for his work on synaptic plasticity.
In the past 15 years he has focused on the structure and function of neural microcircuits – the basic components in the architecture of the brain. In 2005, he launched the Blue Brain Project: the first attempt to begin a systematic integration of all biological knowledge of the brain into unifying brain models for simulation on supercomputers. The strategies, technologies and methods developed in this pioneering work lie at the heart of the Human Brain Project.


Christian Simm (moderator)

Christian Simm is the executive director of swissnex, a newly established exchange platform fostering cooperations and partnerships between Switzerland and Western North America in science and technology, education and entrepreneurship, and art and innovation.
In December 1997, Simm opened the Swiss Science & Technology Office in San Francisco for the Western U.S.A. and Western Canada, which fosters high-level transatlantic exchanges in R&D, education and innovation. Thanks to extensive partnerships with the private and public sectors, he managed to grow the one-man operation into a larger team to develop SwissTalents, a network of highly skilled professionals living outside Switzerland, to establish a sophisticated information exchange platform and to organize a series of highly successful business networking events. The Swiss magazine Bilan listed him in the Who’s Who of the Swiss Internet economy. Simm is the author of numerous articles in newspapers and magazines and a member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences.
Prior to his current position, he was director of CAST, a public-private partnership acting as Industrial Liaison Office for EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. He has kicked off various Swiss participations in European innovation and technology initiatives, co-founded a company active in process management, and was research group leader at Hydro-Québec in Montréal (Canada). Christian Simm holds a Ph.D. in physics and management degrees from IMD and the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

Bay Area Science Festival

From October 29th to November 6th, the Bay Area will come alive with over 100 science and technology activities – lectures, debates, exhibitions, concerts, plays, workshops, and more. This ambitious collaborative public education initiative brings together leading academic, scientific, corporate, and non-profit institutions to showcase the region as an international leader in innovation. Science happens all around us and directly impacts our daily lives – are you ready to unleash your inner scientist? Learn more. #basf11


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos