‘We Never Use the Same Brain Twice: A Lecture on Neuroscience, Culture, and Experience’

Dr. Robert Turner, director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, will present “We Never Use the Same Brain Twice: A Lecture on Neuroscience, Culture, and Experience” on Tuesday, April 9, at 4 p.m. in Buchner Hall of the Alumnae/i House.

Turner’s talk will share cutting-edge neuroscience imaging research that reveals the adaptive plasticity of the human brain and the implications of this research for understanding consciousness, cognition, and creativity.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Rory P.B. Turner, assistant professor of sociology/anthropology, at rory.turner@goucher.edu.

Dr. Robert Turner is among a group of pioneering physicists who helped create magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which today is the most widely used method of brain mapping. His international recognition in this field began in the 1980s, when he worked with distinguished scientists—including 2003 Nobel Prize winner Sir Peter Mansfield—to produce a mathematical framework for MRI coil design. This design was crucial to developing ultra-fast echoplanar imaging (EPI), a technique that allows the recording of changes in blood flow in the brain associated with brain function, which was crucial to the development of fMRI.

From 1988 until 1993, Turner worked as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, where his work helped show that EPI could be used to provide high-quality maps of water diffusion in brain tissue, a discovery that has led to the widespread clinical use of MRI in instances of stroke.

In 1991, still at NIH, he was the first to show that EPI could be used to track, within seconds, the local changes in the human brain’s blood oxygenation that are caused by task-related neural activity. For the first time, human brain activity could be observed entirely non-invasively.

In 1993 Turner returned to the United Kingdom as a Wellcome Principal Research Fellow to become head of MRI at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, a position he held from 1993 to 2003. In 1994 he was awarded a professorship by University College London.

Since 2006, he has been director of the Department of Neurophysics at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. His work there centers on using more powerful MRI scanners and improved hardware and methodology to gain more precise knowledge of the structure and function of the human brain. He also is working to develop neuroanthropology, which brings together insights from the study of culture and the study of the brain.

Turner has written more than 170 refereed articles in the fields of neurophysics, physics, anthropology, and music, and his work has resulted in several patents in the United States, United Kingdom, and worldwide.

Turner’s talk at Goucher is sponsored by the Samuel Newton Taylor Lectureship Fund.

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