by Prof. Dr. Enzo Tagliazucchi
29.11.2016, 17:00 h, TF, Aquarium
Like most scientific disciplines emerging in the 20th century, neuroscience has been dominated by a reductionist approach. This approach promises a complete understanding of brain function based on a very detailed mechanistic understanding of its microscopic constituents, namely neurons and the synapses between them. In spite of many well-funded reductionist projects, it is clear now that brain activity and behaviour display a surprising degree of emergent complexity not implicit in the dynamic laws governing neurons. Also during the 20th century, physics has developed an arsenal of tools for dealing with complex systems such as the brain. In my talk I will discuss how these tools can be applied to understand different healthy and physiological brain states, mainly characterised using fMRI, EEG, MEG and other non-invasive imaging methods. Importantly, in my talk I will not only present how these tools can be used to analyze empirical data, but also the approach of "reverse engineering" the brain by producing simplified mathematical models best accounting for the empirical observations, and then manipulating these models to freely rehearse reversible and irreversible changes leading from healthy to pathological states and vice-versa.