Nerd Nite Melbourne Edition #9 brings you discussions on GMO food as well as food addiction. You might also finally get to know if mind reading, can truly happen.

Nerd Nite – In your body, in your head
Tuesday, 2 December 2014
at Mr Wow’s Emporium
97b Smith Street, Fitzroy
Doors 7pm/$5

Back to the lectures at hand:
*Presentation 1
The science of genetically modified food:can we have our (GM) cake and eat it too?
by David Norrish
Description: GM food is a confusing issue for consumers, policymakers and farmers alike. The underlying science has not been well explained, and to make matters worse, the issue is tangled up in a complex web of related topics – food security, biodiversity, IP law and human health. In this talk we will explore the underlying science of GM food, find out how to make a glow-in-the-dark kitty, and answer the big question: is this technology dangerous?

Bio: David Norrish is a geneticist currently based at the Melbourne Brain Centre where he is researching the mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease. He has previously worked on such genetics-y topics as the way insects evolve resistance to pesticides, and how mutations in mitochondrial genes can cause human disease. He is author of the website Trading Atoms and a lover of good science communication.

*Presentation 2
Addiction to food – is it possible?
by Dr Robyn Brown
Description: Obesity has long been considered a condition which results from energy imbalance – too much energy in/ too little energy out results in weight gain and, over time, obesity. However, if it were that simple, why is it so difficult to treat? Why, in the face of this simple equation, do sufferers of obesity simply not just eat less and/or exercise more so that they are no longer obese? Perhaps there is more to it. As is the case with people addicted to drugs or alcohol it could be that people suffering from obesity have altered brain neurochemistry which causes them to overeat. Robyn Brown will present her recent findings which suggest that obesity and drug addiction share similar neurological underpinnings.

Bio: Robyn Brown is a neuroscientist at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health, University of Melbourne where she investigates the neurobiology underlying addictive behaviour. She did her PhD at Monash University which focused on the neurobiology underlying addiction to drugs such as cocaine and morphine. She then obtained a Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship from the American Australian Association to undertake postdoctoral training at the Medical University of South Carolina in the United States where she applied her background in drug addiction to the concept of addiction to palatable food.

*Presentation 3
Topic: The science of mind reading
by Dr Scott Kolbe
Description: Is it possible to know what a person is really thinking? In this talk Scott will discuss how it is becoming possible to decode the activity of the human brain using imaging techniques like MRI. He will also discuss the current limits of brain imaging and the ethics of mind reading with respect to the law and assisted euthanasia in patients in vegetative states. 

Bio: Scott Kolbe is a brain imaging researcher at the University of Melbourne. His research attempts to understand the links between behaviour and brain structure and function in health and disease.