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Uniqueness of the brain is topic of neuroscientist's talk

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009, 8 p.m. McCosh 50

"What Neurology Can Tell Us About Human Nature" is the focus of a lecture by noted neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, in McCosh 50.

Ramachandran is director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California-San Diego and adjunct professor of biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He is known for his research on human visual perception and behavioral neurology. One of his most famous experiments involved the use of mirrors in therapy to treat the "phantom pain" experienced by amputees.

Ramachandran's lecture will address two phenomena as keys to understanding brain function. The first concerns his work with phantom limbs, which reveals the plasticity of the brain. The second involves synesthesia, an inherited condition in which sounds and printed numbers are seen as colored, which explains the neural basis for high-level functions -- including metaphor and abstraction -- that make the human brain unique.

The talk is designated as a Louis Clark Vanuxem Lecture sponsored by the University Public Lecture Series.

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