Science is grappling with the great enigma of the human brain and how it operates. We expect the human brain to solve the puzzle of itself. Europe is focused on the “Human Brain Project”, the Obama Administration intends to invest billions in brain research, and Israeli scientists too are throwing themselves into the task. How much progress have we made in understanding the brain and what still remains to be discovered? Are dramatic discoveries likely to change the basic understandings about human nature that have prevailed since the dawn of history? Will it be possible to improve how well the brain functions and to significantly affect human behavior? What new ethical questions does brain research raise?
Professor Eilon Vaadia is the Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences and The Jack H. Skirball Chair & Research Fund in Brain Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In the past he also served as Chair of the Department of Physiology and the Head of the Computational Neuroscience study program. His research focuses on learning, bimanual coordination and the dynamics of neuronal interactions in sensorimotor -cortex, and the brain-machine interface.
Professor Yadin Dudai is the Sara and Michael Sela Professor in Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and the Albert and Blanche Willner Family Global Distinguished Professor at New York University (NYU). His research focuses on the investigation of memory systems in the brain, the veracity of memory, and the interaction of individual memory with the social milieu.
Professor Richard Frackowiak is the Director of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Head of Service of Neurology at the CHUV University Hospital in Lausanne. His research focuses on the functional and structural architecture of the human brain in health and disease.
Henry Markram is a professor of neuroscience at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (EPFL). He is the founder of the Brain Mind Institute, founder and director of the Blue Brain Project, and the coordinator of the Human Brain Project, one of two ten-year one billion Euro Flagship Projects approved by the European Commission. Markram’s research has focused on synaptic plasticity and the microcircuitry of the neocortex, in which he has discovered fundamental principles governing synaptic plasticity and the structural and functional organization of neural microcircuitry. Other key discoveries include the concept of Liquid Computing and the Intense World Theory of Autism. In 2005 he launched the Blue Brain Project to develop a data integration strategy for neuroscience. Markram has published more than one hundred papers and has one of the highest citation records in his area of research and stage of career. Markram is also co-founder of Frontiers (frontiersin.org), a new model for peer-reviewed open-access publishing.
Professor Idan Segev is the David & Inez Myers Professor in Computational Neuroscience and the Director of the Department of Neurobiology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research team utilizes computational and theoretical tools to study how neurons compute and dynamically adapt to their environment. In recent years, his group has worked as part of the Human Brain Project in collaboration to model a whole piece of the mammalian cortex with the ultimate goal of unraveling how local fine variations within the cortical network underlie specific behavioral function and may give rise to certain brain diseases or to healthy and “individual” brains.
Dr. Inna Slutsky is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University. Her research is focused on understanding the basic mechanisms that maintain synaptic plasticity and memory function and initiate memory dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. Slutsky is the recipient of the Bernard Katz Prize in Neuroscience, Alzheimer’s Association Award, the New Investigator Award in Alzheimer’s disease from American Federation for Ageing Research, the ERC award and the Sieratzki Prize for Advances in Neuroscience.