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World-renowned neuroscientist visits UTSA on May 5 to discuss the quest for consciousness

April 29, 2009

(April 29, 2009) -- Until half a century ago, scientists were pursuing the mystery of life. Then Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA. Today's neuroscientists are engaged in a similar pursuit for knowledge as they work to unravel the material basis of consciousness.

How does the unmistakable smell of rain-soaked dogs or the awful throbbing of tooth pain emerge from networks of neurons and their associated functions? Celebrated Caltech neuroscientist Christof Koch will address the fundamental mystery of neuroscience in a free distinguished public lecture sponsored by UTSA's Neurosciences Institute.

The Neurosciences Institute's 2009 Distinguished Public Lecture will be held on Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 6 p.m. on UTSA's Main Campus in the University Center Retama Room (Room 2.02.02) and includes a public reception for Koch starting at 5:30 p.m.

At the May 5 lecture, addressing how the brain generates conscious experience, Koch will:
  • Summarize what is known to date about the neurobiology of consciousness
  • Argue that attention is distinct from consciousness
  • Discuss the limits to our knowledge
  • Describe ongoing experiments using visual illusions to manipulate the relationship between physical stimuli and their associated conscious percepts
  • Impart a promising information-theoretical approach to consciousness that is grounded in circuit complexity
-end-
To learn more about UTSA's upcoming neuroscience lecture or about its Neurosciences Institute, please contact Salma Quraishi at salma.quraishi@utsa.edu or (210) 458-7493. Or, visit the Neurosciences Institute at http://neuroscience.utsa.edu.

About Christof Koch, Ph.D.

Born in 1956 in the American Midwest, Christof Koch grew up in Holland, Germany, Canada and Morocco, where he graduated from the Lycèe Descartes in 1974. He studied physics and philosophy at the University of Tübingen in Germany and was awarded his Ph.D. in Biophysics in 1982. After four years at MIT, Koch joined Caltech in 1986, where he is the Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology. The author of more than 300 scientific papers and journal articles, and several books, Koch studies the biophysics of computation and the neuronal basis of visual perception, attention and consciousness. Together with Francis Crick, he is one of the pioneers of the neurobiological approach to consciousness.

About UTSA's Neurosciences Institute

The UTSA Neurosciences Institute is the multidisciplinary research organization for integrated brain studies at UTSA. The Institute's mission is to foster a collaborative community of scientists committed to studying the biological basis of human experience and behavior, and the origin and treatment of nervous system diseases. Its areas of focus include nervous system development; neuronal and network computation; sensory, motor and cognitive function; learning and memory, and the disease processes that impact them; implementing mathematical and computational tools in experimental neurobiology; and mathematical theory of neurons and nervous systems.

University of Texas at San Antonio

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