By Professor VS Ramachandran, University of California San Diego
Professor Ramachandran examines problems that lie at the interface between neurology and psychiatry. He explains how phantom limbs may be used as a probe for understanding brain functions and shows that far from having fixed connections, even the basic 'wiring' of the brain is constantly being modified in response to changing sensory inputs. This has theoretical implications as well as practical implications for recovery of function from stroke, phantom pain and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).
Ramachandran will also discuss synesthesia, an inherited condition in which sounds and printed numbers are seen as colored. He reveals its neural basis and suggests it might provide clues to understanding high level brain functions such as metaphor and abstraction.
Professor Ramachandran is director of the center for brain and cognition at the university of California San Diego and adjunct professor of biology at the Salk Institute. He is best known for his work on visual perception, behavioral neurology (including phantom limbs) and more recently, synesthesia.
The fifth in a series of lectures on the nature of human knowledge and understanding supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.