Full Frame: Mapping the Brain

Full Frame

The three-pound organ that is the human brain is the command center for our thoughts, feelings, memories, behaviors and motor skills. Yet so much about it is still a mystery.

Dr. Sergiu Pasca has made it his life’s work to understand how the brain builds itself. He’s doing it by growing neural circuits in his lab at Stanford University.

“The problem is that the human brain is, to a large extent, inaccessible…That’s probably one of the main reasons why we have such a poor understanding of psychiatric disorders today,” Pasca said in an interview with Full Frame host Mike Walter.

Pasca’s lab is trying to understand the underlying mechanisms that lead to neuropsychiatric diseases, including autism and schizophrenia.

“By ultimately manipulating the cells and leveraging human genetics … we’ll be able to understand the biology of these conditions,” he said.

Tracking Your Brain

These days, you can track your steps and heart rate through your phone or a fitness watch. Now, through brain monitoring headsets, people can now track their cognitive performance and emotions.

EMOTIV makes headsets that use electroencephalography — or EEG — to allow users to track their brain data.

Tan says that by better understanding our brains, we can work more efficiently, heal faster and fundamentally, live out more fulfilling lives.

“We can’t wait for human evolution to happen through genetic changes. The human brain is our modern man’s response to that because it is the system that allows us to continually adapt to modernization,” she said.

Brain Science to Improve Performance

From focus to productivity, we can train our brains to perform better. But our modern-day work culture is not helping.

Cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Sahar Yousef is using brain science to create higher performers, without the burnout.

Yousef’s Becoming Superhuman program aims to help participants improve their focus, memory and overall cognitive performance.

“We are, in fact, focused machines. We are monotasking machines,” Yousef said in an interview with Full Frame host Mike Walter.

“I see folks working in office spaces, and they’ve got a primary task. Maybe you do engineering work, so you have the terminal open in your coding. But then off to the side, they have email open, messages open, the phone is right here. What are we focusing on?” she said.

Using AI to Understand the Brain

A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland is trying to unravel some of the brain’s biggest mysteries – with artificial intelligence.