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Podcast: Christof Koch on Consciousness, Team Science & The Future of Brain Research


Posted by Jami L. Milton, PhD - 05.29.2018

Just about everything we do affects our conscious, felt experience, from what we choose to consume to where we choose to spend our time. In this podcast, Christof talks to us about the neural correlates of consciousness, and some of the work he began to cultivate with the Nobel Laureate Francis Crick when he was at the Salk Institute and Christof was at Caltech. In Christof’s current role as Chief Scientist and President of The Allen Institute for Brain Science (AIBS), he continues to pursue what is now cutting-edge research into a population of neurons that just might represent a biological substrate for consciousness.


Christof tells us about some of the amazing data being produced by the AIBS, like the Brain Observatory of in vivo physiological activity for tens of thousands of individual neurons. Hear what he has to say about the AIBS and some of their more recent undertakings into detailing the activity and function of individual neurons on a grand scale. You really get a sense for how the AIBS is defining the future of neuroscience. We also talk about team science, and the difference it makes to scientific progress.

Finally, we learn a bit about Christof’s background, his dream experiment, what aspects of his personality have been crucial to his success as a scientist and a leader, and his perspective on the future of neuroscience.

Happy listening!

Jami Milton, your host

Here are the timecodes in case you want to jump to a particular section:

(0:0) Defining consciousness & the current state of consciousness research

(12:15) Technological advancement in studying the role of the claustrum in consciousness (16:10) Enhancing human intelligence

(20:15) Insights from the Allen Institute for Brain Science

(26:20) Comparing human & mouse brains

(29:25) Team science at the Allen Institute

(36:25) How Christof’s background has influenced his career path

(40:02) Perspectives on the future of neuroscience


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