#21 Nerd Nite – 4 October 2016

Happy birthday to us on Tuesday, 4 October as we celebrate our third birthday. We have two speakers lined up to talk about epilepsy, and using neuro waves to control motor movements. As part of our birthday bash, we will also be hosting a birthday trivia with door prizes!

Our friends at Mr Wow’s Emporium will be hosting us again with cold beers and amazing cocktails while Burger Boys serve up juicy burgers.

Tuesday, 4 October
at Mr Wow’s Emporium
97b Smith Street, Fitzroy
Doors 7pm/$5

Back to the lectures at hand:
*Presentation 1
Sensing the world: how the brain works
by Dr Lucy Palmer

Description: The brain has many areas specialised for specific functions, which must communicate with one another to generate an internal representation of the surrounding sensory environment. How the brain achieves this is one of the most intriguing mysteries of neuroscience and is the inspiration of my research. Individual neurons within the brain receive information from different sensory systems onto branch like structures called dendrites. Dendrites contain active conductances which enables them to transform this information to either enhance or dampen the signal. Therefore, understanding dendritic activity is at the heart of unravelling how the brain computes our sensory environment. My laboratory at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health uses advanced recording techniques including patch clamp electrophysiology, two-photon microscopy and optogenetics to measure both the voltage and fluorescence response of neurons and dendrites during sensory stimulation. Understanding sensory processing within the brain at the level of a single neuron is crucial to understanding many neurophysiological diseases where the processing of external information is compromised such as autism, depression and drug addiction.

Bio: Lucy graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor in Science and a Bachelor in Arts in 2001. In 2003 she obtained a Masters in Science from the University of Minnesota and was awarded with a Ph.D from the Australian National University in 2008. She then pursued postdoctoral studies at the University of Bern, Switzerland and Humboldt University, Berlin before returning to Australia to head the Neural Network Laboratory at the Florey Institute in 2013. Her research investigates the dendritic activity and underlying neural networks contributing to sensory perception and behaviour in the mammalian brain.

*Presentation 2
Brain-computer interfacing – reading brainwaves for control of prosthetics
by Ewan Nurse

Description: We use our motor system constantly to control our body to complete everyday tasks. Every movement we make in order to talk, walk or eat involves the synchronised coordination of multiple brain regions and dozens of muscles. So what do we do when this system malfunctions? Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) provide a direct method of communication between the brain and devices like robotic limbs and computers. In this talk, Ewan will discuss the history of the BCI, the current state of the art, and the future hopes for this technology.

Bio: Ewan is a PhD student in the Neuro Engineering lab at the University of Melbourne, and an intern with the Brain-Inspired Computing team at IBM Research Australia. His research focuses on signal processing and machine learning with brain activity data, and novel ways to record from the brain. He has previously worked as a researcher at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Defence Science Technology Group and the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Animal Biotechnology. Ewan’s research has appeared on ABC’s Catalyst, the Discovery Channel and in Wired magazine.

*Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances, Dr Tully O’Neill who was previously listed as a speaker, is no longer able to talk at this event. We hope to bring Tully back at a future event.

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