Council

The Idea of the Brain

Professor Matthew Cobb
Thursday, 21 October 2021 - 7:00pm

The brain is the most complex part of our bodies, and the more we know about it the more we realise what we don’t know.

Advances in imaging and analysing the structure of it have changed enormously in the last decades.  These technological developments have taken us far beyond the knowledge we had prior to the 20th Century.  Indeed, it was only in the 17th Century that the thinkers of the day moved on from a mere description of the gross anatomy of the brain, to beginning to analyse how each part works on the rest of the body.  For instance, we now know that even into adulthood the brain can be ‘retrained’ in many subtle ways, in certain situations.

Matthew Cobb’s lecture will draw on the extensive research which went into the writing of ‘The Idea of the Brain’, a book which had excellent reviews when it was published in 2020, including:

 ‘An intellectual tour de force, and a brilliant demonstration of how a historical approach is often the best way of explaining difficult scientific problems...For anybody who wants to understand the depths of our understanding of our brains, and our even deeper ignorance, I cannot recommend this book strongly enough’ - Henry Marsh

 

About the speaker

Matthew Cobb is Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester. His undergraduate and doctoral studies were in Psychology and Genetics. Postdoctoral positions were at London's Institute of Psychiatry, and in France, returning to UK in 2002 to take up his post at Manchester. Special research interests have included the sense of smell, history of science, the brain, and behaviour. He has written several books, including Life's Greatest Secret:The Race to discover the Genetic Code, which was shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Book Prize, and the acclaimed histories The Resistance and Eleven Days in August. His latest book, The Idea of the Brain, was published in 2020, and shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction, as well as being one of the Sunday Times' Books of the Year. He has also appeared regularly on BBC radio - both Radio 4 and Radio 3, and also the BBC World Service.

 

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