The Great Brain Debate: New York, April 2

By Carl Zimmer | March 8, 2012 6:20 pm

If you’re in New York please consider joining me and Robert Krulwich of Radiolab on April 2 for a fascinating debate about the future of neuroscience. Tickets are free, but limited, so grab them when they become available on noon, 3/12.

Here are the details from the event page:

Does the brain’s wiring make us who we are?

Two leading neuroscientists debate maps, minds and the future of their field.

 Sebastian Seung (MIT)  vs. Anthony Movshon (NYU)

Professor of Computational Neuroscience, MIT
Author of Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring
Makes Us Who We Are

Professor and Director,
Center for Neural Science, NYU

Moderators: Robert Krulwich of NPR’s Radiolab and

Carl Zimmer, science journalist (NYTimesDiscover, NPR)


What will be the next big breakthrough in neuroscience? What will finally explain how brains work, how they fail in disease, and what makes us each unique? Some neuroscientists believe that research would be radically accelerated by finding and deciphering “connectomes,” maps of connections between neurons. Funding agencies are wagering millions of dollars on the idea that connectomics will be as fundamental to neuroscience as genomics is to molecular biology.

But others disagree, arguing that maps of the brain by themselves cannot offer much insight into how this remarkable organ does its job. Just as a genome by itself is only a blueprint with little power to explain how an organism works, a connectome is at best a framework with little power to explain brain function. Should neuroscience make it a priority to launch a significant connectomics program, diverting human and financial resources from other worthy goals?

Join us as leading “connectomist” Dr. Sebastian Seung defends his position in public against the formidable neurophysiologist Dr. Anthony Movshon. Award-winning science writer Carl Zimmer teams up with co-creator of NPR’s Radiolab, Robert Krulwich, to moderate this debate on neural cartography, guiding the audience through both known and unknown territory as we ask the question: Are brain maps the future of neuroscience or an empty promise?

Date: Monday, April 2, 2012

Time: 6:30 pm, cocktails. 7 pm, program.

Location: Havemeyer Hall 309, Columbia University, Broadway @ 116th St

Seating is limited. Tickets can be reserved beginning March 12 at Noon .



Comments (6)

  1. john naddaf

    what if we were to look at the higgs as a time particle…a singulaity,passing and measuring space therefore creating the measured field(higgs),that gives particles a defined state.the decay a result of a time singty evaporating with particles within its field,leaving behind a negative mass particle,that draws in mass from like a vacum,as it measures and allows particles a defined state to exist,and bonding that state,by barricading it within one singularity of time,unable to escape the singularity,the particle develops polarity,as energy opposes itself inside the singularity as the singularity contracts and condenses matter within it…if we look at the singularity of time as all of time,then passing time would continue to inflate that singularity…i say singularity for lack of a better word,,but the singularity of time is never one,,a complete singularity is zero…as time is a sigularity of duality(if is was will,and is will was,then time is of dual polarity,and will always end at zero,,,but that would be the end of time,and till then time is always 0-x measurement,,,therefore higgs would be of 0-mass,,,as when time passes matter remains as the opposite reaction,of 0+,,to thge action of 0- of time…
    love to hear any thoughts on this,,,i realise theres many more questions before its has any merrit,but i could also go much further into it…it could be expanded to account much of the current data,,and the 60 nanosecond shift(though not completely there yet,its looking more and more promising…

    giving the higgs negative mass,creates the voids(vacuums) in the in the higgs field that creates the weak force,that decays particles with positive mass as they are drawn into the higgs vacuum(particle not field)…decaying from beyond the higgs field the positive mass created inside the higgs,opposes the negative mass of the higgs…however this does not mean the field would equal zero…if we were to assume the higgs is a time particle,,then as a singularity its eveaporates before it can be complete,,,a singularity of duality has a totality of absolute 0…as higgs its negative,through decay its positive,,,but the negative measures the positive,and the negative becomes a positive measurement and the positive becomes negative time…negative time plus positive mass equals negative mass,,,since we can only observe at the speed of light,we can only observe in negative time,to observe positive higgs mass,we must observe it in the future,before it is measured by higgs(time)…and as shroedingers cat would tell us before a particle is measured,it exists in every possible state(dead,alive,etc…)and in order to exist in every state,means it never exists as any one state,,a 0 in every state,and a single state of 0+time therefore the higss here would have positive mass,,,but only because time has not passed yet,,,once time passes the particle is measured and exists as a mass of 0+x,less the time particle of 0-x,,,which would assume the field would equal zero,,,but not neccessarily,as time is always preceeded by time observing higgs in the past(after its measured)means we are observing the 0+xmass particle,at 0-(x+x) of time…therefore is negative mass…when we observe particles as positive mass,we are observing them seperate from time,,if time was to be included in the calculation,,wed always get a negative mass result,,it makes sense too if you think about it,,,at the end of time all of time had passed,its no longer present,and the negative mass of that time always preceeded by another negative mass,,and totality of present is positive mass 0+x,less the negative mass of 0-(x+x)
    would love any feedback on this,,,my work has mainly been on time,and the singularity of space,,,i can go into much more detail re,,time,duality,also able to demosntrate time as an infinity preceeding itself,can only end,but never begin,,as any beginning would be an event,and time preceeds any event,,which is the opposite of space that has a beginning,but no end,as space is always followed by space…
    please feel free to contact me re this or any other comments ive made…
    i think as we look at singularity,,,the true test is that it must relate….

  2. Young Yoon

    I figure the brain connectome will be much like the human genome project. Many criticized the money spent on the genome project and while the fruits of the work are not always evident in everyday lives, having a map of the brain would go a long way to expand our limited understanding of neuroscience. Furthermore, it would lay the foundations for even more exciting projects such as the Blue Brain Project led by Henry Markram.

  3. John Kubie

    I’m on team Movshon.

  4. Jill Ko

    I think connectomics is a necessary and worthy endeavor. I am on team Seung.


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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