Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Neurophysics: Unraveling Your Brain's Dynamics

André​ Longtin
University of Ottawa

Wednesday, March 7, 2007
3:30 PM @ Stirling A


Physicists have long been involved in many aspects of brain research. Following the lead of Volta, they have ventured into the realm of bioelectricity. They have developed sophisticated techniques to measure currents through ion channels in nerve cells, and to image brain activity on a variety of length and time scales using magnetic resonance imaging, electro- and magnetoencelography and multiphoton microscopy. Helmholtz himself was a pioneer on another front, investigating physical principles of sensory detection and neural information processing. The last decades have seen an unprecedented involvement of physicists in these latter areas, going after the fundamental workings of the mind itself. They are fascinated by questions such as: What governs the firing patterns of a single cell? What gives rise to collective modes of oscillation of neural networks? What are the codes used by neurons to exchange information and memorize data? And what would a proper brain theory look like? We are currently witnessing in this "Neurophysics" an exciting cycle of experiment and theoretical prediction that is pushing the frontiers of nonlinear dynamics, statistical mechanics and biological physics, and redefining the boundary between physics and neuroscience. The development, challenges and great promise of Neurophysics are the focus of this CAP Lecture.

Refreshments will be available 15 mins before the talk.