Narender Ramnani – Learning in the cerebellum: an ‘autopilot’ system in the human brain

Event Date: 17 March 2016

Windsor Auditorium

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, Surrey
TW20 0EX

Inaugural Lecture

Professor Narender Ramnani (RHUL) – Learning in the cerebellum: an ‘autopilot’ system in the human brain

Primates, including humans, have remarkable problem-solving abilities that other species lack. The neocortex organises thoughts and actions for flexible problem-solving, but this process can be slow and depletes limited attentional resources. There is a brain structure with complementary properties that can compensate. The cerebellum contains over half of the 100 billion neurons in the human brain. This vast memory store is thought to be the brain’s ‘autopilot’ system: it is not very flexible, but it can learn and store solutions worked out by other systems like the neocortex, and apply them with impressive speed and accuracy when the same problems arise again. In fact, robotics researchers are attempting to replicate its abilities. This lecture will discuss the evidence that the human cerebellum is a memory store for skilled action and thought, and integrate findings from brain anatomy, activity, evolution, investigations of behaviour, and the application of theoretical ideas that borrow from principles in engineering.

Introduction by Professor Paul Hogg (Vice Principal and Dean of Science RHUL):

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