John O’Keefe: The GPS of the Brain
Nobel Laureate John O’Keefe visits the GooglePlex to talk about Place Cells, the “GPS of the Brain”. A discovery for which he received the 2014 Nobel Prize in Medicine.
He explains how animals and humans find their way – by working out the relationship between where they are and where other things are. The brain does this by representing places (where you are now), and representing distances and directions. O’Keefe and his colleagues established which part of the brain does this, and how it works. Your brain has cells that represent places; so when you are in a familiar environment different cells represent different locations in this environment. There are cells that represent directions, for where you are looking and where you are moving; and there are also cells that tell the distances moved in particular directions. All this together forms a so called “cognitive map”, which is a framework for identifying where you are, where other things are in your environment, and how to get from one place to another.
O’Keefe is a Neuroscientist and Professor at University College London. But he was born in Harlem, NY, the son of immigrant parents. He grew up in the Bronx, studied aeronautical engineering at New York University (yes, he’s an engineer made good!), and later attended City College of New York, the last free public college in the US, where he studied philosophy of the mind. He then did an MA and PhD in physiological psychology.[Video source: Talks at Google You Tube channel]
March 28, 2020
March 18, 2020
June 20, 2019
June 15, 2019
December 25, 2018