The Human Brain: More Perfect Than We Think

Date(s) - 10 Mar 2014
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

U of A Centennial Hall

What: The Evolving Brain Lecture Series

When: Mondays, Jan. 27 to March 10, at 7 p.m.

Where: Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Visitor pay parking is available in the Tyndall Avenue Garage, 880 E. Fourth St.

Admission: All lectures are free and open to the public. To learn more, visit the College of Science Spring 2014 Lectures website.

The University of Arizona College of Science‘s popular spring lecture series will present six free lectures exploring the evolution of the astonishingly complex human brain.

The topics to be covered over the entire series include brain imaging, the history of brain surgery, the ancestral circuits that can be found in the modern brain and the essentially perfect way our brains solve problems. The first lecture will be on Monday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. in Centennial Hall on the UA campus.

The human brain is the product of hundreds of millions of years of evolution.

Layered upon its ancestral core of ancient molecules and neural circuits, new structures evolved that expand the capacity of our brains to process information flexibly and to perform complex behaviors.

Human brains are continuously remodeled by environmental forces and by the enormous sum of information and technologies generated by human inventiveness. These new technologies further expand our power to manipulate information and interact with countless others in remote environments that once were far beyond our reach.

Today sophisticated techniques allow us to probe the structure and function of our own brains and those of other species to better understand how brains originated and where the evolution of our own brain will take us.

All “The Evolving Brain” lectures are free and open to the public. The lectures will be held at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., on the UA campus. Pay visitor parking is available in the Tyndall Avenue Garage, 880 E. Fourth St.

The scheduled lectures:

Mar. 10 | More Perfect Than We Think 
John Archibald Wheeler/Battelle Professor in Physics
Princeton University
From its ability to appreciate beauty, to the reassembly of distant childhood memories, to our almost unthinking ability to respond to the unexpected, is our brain really doing a “good job” at solving the problems we confront as we move through the world? Has evolution granted us a rich inheritance of tools, or saddled us with artifacts of a distant past, limiting our ability to solve new problems? Many other animals, from insects to our fellow primates, do many equally remarkable things. But several examples will be presented allowing us to see how the human brain solves problems in an essentially perfect way – no machine operating under the same physical constraints could do better. Examining what is common among the problems that the brain is good at solving begins to suggest a more general principle that may be at work.
Funding for the College of Science Spring 2014 Lecture Series is provided by: Arizona Daily Star; Galileo Circle; Godat Design; Holualoa Companies; Marshall Foundation; Steven J. Miller Foundation; Miraval Resort & Spa; Raytheon; Research Corporation for Science Advancement; Hugh and Allyn Thompson; Tucson Electric Power Co.; University of Arizona Medical Center; and Ventana Medical Systems Inc.