Neurons from the Human Brain

Neurons from the Human Brain

D4) Neurons from the Human Brain

Moderator: Robin Lloyd

Clinical case studies and laboratory experiments tell us that human consciousness is closely linked to electrical activity in the most complex piece of excitable matter in the known universe, the cerebral cortex. The billions of nerve cells that make up this structure are highly diverse but little understood, as the bulk of brain research involves animals.

Tracking the footprints of consciousness depends on our ability to measure and visualize neuronal activity. This analysis must take place at a cellular level throughout the brain in a reliable and reproducible manner. This is the purpose of the Allen Institute Brain Observatory, an open-access platform that reports the activity of tens of thousands of cells in a highly innovative manner for anybody to mine.

Christof Koch, president and chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute, will highlight progress from studying human consciousness in the brain over the past decade. He will describe recently released data concerning the morphology and electrical behavior of individual neurons from the cortex of humans in detail, and compare these to cortical neurons from our mouse atlas. See the stunning “crown of thorns” neurons discovered in a little-known part of the brain called the claustrum, surmised by Francis Crick to be involved in consciousness.