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Peter Doolittle: How your “working memory” makes sense of the world
“Life comes at us very quickly, and what we need to do is take that amorphous flow of experience and somehow extract meaning from it.” In this funny, enlightening talk, educational psychologist Peter Doolittle details the importance — and limitations — of your “working memory,” that part of the brain that allows us to make sense of what’s happening right now.
Peter Doolittle is striving to understand the processes of human learning.
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM?
Peter Doolittle is a professor of educational psychology in the School of Education at Virginia Tech, where he is also the executive director of the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research. He teaches classes such as Cognition and Instruction, Constructivism and Education, Multimedia Cognition and College Teaching, but his research mainly focuses on learning in multimedia environments and the role of “working memory.”
Doolittle has taught educational psychology around the world. He is the executive editor of the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the co-executive editor of the International Journal of ePortfolio.
Suzana Herculano-Houzel: What is so special about the human brain?
The human brain is puzzling — it is curiously large given the size of our bodies, uses a tremendous amount of energy for its weight and has a bizarrely dense cerebral cortex. But: why? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel puts on her detective’s cap and leads us through this mystery. By making “brain soup,” she arrives at a startling conclusion.
Suzana Herculano-Houzel shrunk the human brain by 14 billion neurons — by developing a new way to count them.
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HER?
How many neurons make a human brain? For years, the answer has been (give or take) 100 billion. But neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel decided to count them herself. Her research approach involved dissolving four human brains (donated to science) into a homogeneous mixture — in her lab at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Rio de Janeiro, they call it “brain soup.” She then took a sample of the mix, counted the number of cell nuclei belonging to neurons, and scaled that up. Result: the human brain has about 86 billion neurons, 14 billion fewer than assumed — but intriguingly, far more than other animals, relative to brain size.
She suggests that it was the invention of cooking by our ancestors — which makes food yield much more metabolic energy — that allowed humans to develop the largest primate brain. She’s now working on elephant and whale brains to test her hypothesis.
Be yourself, no matter what they say: Sigal Brier
“What Would You Do If Your Were Not Afraid?” : Anas Bukhash
Anas Bukhash graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and since then has embarked on a variety of careers spanning 8 years of professionalism. Working in the oil & gas, property development, philanthropy and sports sectors, Anas has a wealth of knowledge extending across all fields – but his biggest passion was football.
Anas can often be found on-screen as a regular guest on Abu Dhabi Sports’ ‘The Beautiful Game’, alongside many other assorted TV and radio appearances, events, talks and workshops. A popular tweeter, Anas’ Twitter account is one of the most followed in the region, and as well as his sporting interests.
How to change your future: Jeremy Hunter
Jeremy Hunter describes how we can change the future by focusing on attention and Mindfulness. Jeremy Hunter, Ph.D. is the great-grandson of a sumo wrestler as well as an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker School of Management.
Rethinking the brain: Richard Faull
Richard Faull is professor and director of the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland. Raised in a small Taranaki farming community, Richard discovered his passion for the human brain as a young medical student and has spent his life pursuing exciting, innovative and groundbreaking research in this field at the University of Auckland. Richard’s work has been widely recognised internationally and through appointments as Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Officer of the NZ Order of Merit, and receiving of many awards including New Zealand’s highest scientific award, the Royal Society Rutherford Medal.