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Report from TEDGlobal Session 9: The Unknown Brains

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TED Senior Fellow Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo performs one of her poems, on identity and pride, a favorite of her mother’s.


Gero Miesenboeck says that if we can learn to control the activities of neurons, we can begin to truly understand the brain. He shows the advances he’s made in manipulating the brains of flies, even through genetic engineering.


According to Heribert Watzke, cooking is a more important technology than we might think — it allowed us to eat otherwise inedible foods and feed our big brains. He also says that so much nervous tissue has been found in the gut, you might say we have a “big brain” and a “gut brain.” How we can cook to stimulate it?


Gina Rudan is redefining genius as practical genius. We’ve all got soft personal assets and hard professional assets, and it’s at that intersection of the two that our genius zone lies. We all possess practical genius, it’s up to us to share it responsibly.


Stefano Mancuso thinks we underestimate plants. Plants do move, play, respond to gravity, sleep and communicate. But, how do they do this without a brain? He says that plants, in fact, do have brains.


Sebastian Seung asks “Are we more than our genes?” He thinks we are our connectomes — the combination of our neural connections. He wants to capture a microscopic image of every neuron and synpapse in a vast database and hopefully, someday, map an entire human connectome.