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KS Krishnan Memorial Lecture in Neuroscience  Jan 08, 2018

IISER Pune is happy to invite you to a public talk:

First K. S. Krishnan Memorial Lecture in Neuroscience

Prof. Mani Ramaswami FTCD, MRIA
(Director, Trinity College Institute for Neuroscience, Dublin, Ireland)

Date:January 8, 2018

Time: 4:00 pm

Venue: Room No. 103, Lecture Hall Complex (LHC), IISER Pune

Title: The Dark Side of the Brain

Abstract: Through brain activity, animals are capable of perceiving immediate and past events and emotions. I will argue and elaborate on a model proposing that these meaningful forms of brain activity are regulated by specific patterns of self-generated inhibition. The model accounts for two unexplained fundamental features of psychology. The first is “behavioral habituation,” how we respond weakly to familiar frequently encountered objects, places and stimuli? The second is “latent memory,” how our brains store millions of memories silently, in a latent form, ready for recall when needed. Here, I term inhibitory mechanisms that underlie both these phenomena as “The Dark Side of the Brain,” because: (a) their expression can make current events and past memories invisible; (b) their activation is largely invisible to our senses; and (c) the term evokes Pink Floyd’s album “The Dark Side of the Moon” and its main song “Brain Damage”, where, one may see in musings of “the lunatic on the grass,” effects of loss of regulatory inhibition. But most of all  because I think Professor Krishnan would have liked it. I overview the model below.

Cell assemblies or “engrams” encode perceptions and memories. Thus, activation of a specific assembly will trigger the encoded perception or the recall of the encoded memory. The model proposes that familiar perceptions and past memories are silenced or rendered “quiescent” by matched inhibitory patterns or inhibitory engrams that may form through implementation of scalable a synaptic learning rule. Volitional attention, by recruiting local disinhibitory mechanisms, can override inhibition to allow either activate engagement with familiar percepts or recall of past memories.  

My talk will introduce fundamental features of behavioural habituation. It will then consider experimental evidence in support of the proposed inhibitory mechanism for habituation. It will attempt to link habituation and latent memory by considering common neuromodulatory and global brain-state dependent mechanisms that may control the formation and expression  of inhibitory engrams, most provocatively speculating on the role of sleep. It will end with a discussion on the clinical relevance of these ideas, particularly to transdiagnostic traits that can occur in psychiatric disease and, in memory of K.S. Krishnan, with totally unjustified speculations on its relevance to ant behavior.

The talk would be of interest to anyone with a basic background in Science, Mathematics, Engineering or Medicine.