• Question: What do you find most interesting about the brain?

    Asked by atoms365 to Yewande, Sarah, Sam.S, Sam.P, Richard, Nadine, Michelle, Michel, Martha, Abbie, Ian, Hayley, Ella, Daniel on 8 Feb 2019.
    • Photo: Richard Unwin

      Richard Unwin answered on 8 Feb 2019:


      Its just so complicated!
      As a scientists I’ve always wanted to know how things work. the brain is so complex with so much going on that I think there’s a mystery in there still which I love trying to work out and solve. We know lots about how the brain works, but there’s certainly a huge amount that we don’t know, and I enjoy the challenge of helping to find out!

    • Photo: Martha Nari Havenith

      Martha Nari Havenith answered on 8 Feb 2019:


      Hey atoms365, one of the things I love about brain research is that we’ve only really started studying the brain maybe 200 years ago. We are kind of like Physics was before Newton – there is just so much left to discover, and a lot of space for creativity.
      Also, I find that the brain is a beautiful example of a system that works without a ‘conductor’ or ‘pacemaker’ – millions of neurons constantly interact moment by moment, and somehow the patterns they create together translate into what we experience as thoughts, feelings, sounds, tastes etc. It’s really fun to try to imagine in my head how such a huge constantly changing system can work, and then come up with experiments that could prove that.

    • Photo: Michel Destrade

      Michel Destrade answered on 8 Feb 2019:


      There is a lot of research to understand how the brain works, but I find that too complicated! Intelligence, memory, consciousness, personality, etc., it seems just impossible to explain in my opinion.

      Instead, I look at the brain from the point of view of an engineer: what’s it made of, how soft is it, how much does it stretch or move during an impact, etc. These are questions that can be answered by testing brain matter in the lab. So far I’ve looked at pigs’ brains and found that they were softer than jelly! Good thing the brain is inside a very strong skull!

      Later I hope to move on to human brains. Maybe it will be possible to find connections between softness and disease? In fact, that’s already known for brain tumours, which feel different than the surrounding healthy tissue. So when neurosurgeons have to decide which part to remove and which part to leave, they poke around with their finger (they wear gloves, but still!) If I can come up with numbers and maps telling them that this part is 1.5 times stiffer than that part, they might be able to make more accurate judgments of where and what to cut out. That’s my hope!

    • Photo: Nadine Mirza

      Nadine Mirza answered on 15 Feb 2019:


      This is such a difficult question!!!! I mean, the brain is responsible for everything we are and everything we do so hard to narrow down on it! I guess lately I’m most interested in 1) memory and the different kinds of memory and how our memories aren’t the most reliable and can even be changed and altered 2) the front part of the brain (frontal lobe), which is responsible for things like our personality, inhibitions, and decision making.

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