Charles F. Stevens
One of the most challenging problems in modern biology is to understand how the brain computes. Charles F. Stevens has been studying the brain for more than 40 years, and in this lecture he will describe some of the ways our brain is like (and unlike) a computer. The human brain contains about the same number of nerve cells as we have stars in our galaxy. These nerve cells are richly interconnected to form circuits that are used for carrying out computations unmatched in their speed and complexity by the largest and most powerful computers in the world. Stevens will illustrate how the brain uses quite different design principles from the ones found in today’s computers and examine the role of theory in discovering the secrets of the brain’s computational power. Dr. Stevens is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of molecular neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. He received his B.A. degree in psychology from Harvard University, his M.D. degree from Yale University, and his Ph.D. in biophysics from Rockefeller University. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and a pioneer in both electrophysiology and neuroscience, Stevens has made noteworthy contributions to science’s understanding of membrane channels, synapse formation, and neurotransmitter release.