Tamil Nadu

‘Neuroscience needs a breakthrough like discovery of DNA double helix’

Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran delivering a talk at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai on Friday.

Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran delivering a talk at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai on Friday. | Photo Credit: K.V. SRINIVASAN

The field of neuroscience needs a breakthrough like the discovery of the double helix structure of the DNA by Francis Crick and James Watson, said V.S. Ramachandran, renowned neuroscientist and Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognition, University of California, on Friday.

Delivering a lecture at the Asian College of Journalism here on “Embodied minds and disembodied brains — what neurology can tell us about human nature,” he said Crick and Watson not only described the structure, but also figured out the mechanism of how the genetic information was getting copied.

While neuroscientists were doing experiments that provide insights into what different regions of the brain do, he said they were trying to do what Crick and Watson did with DNA to understand more on how exactly the brain functions. “There are some promising leads,” he said. The human brain was estimated to have 100 billion neurons and the number of possible permutations and combinations of brain activity exceeding the number of elementary particles in the known universe was the most complex matter in the universe.

He said there was a surprising amount of autonomy with which different regions of the brain functioned. Explaining the duality of functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, he said: “The whole spectrum of our mind is the interaction between the two hemispheres.”

He said in detail on the well-known experiments done by his lab on persons having phantom limbs, synesthesia and xenomelia (which refer to a condition where a person persistently believes that one of their limbs do not belong to their body and even prefer it to be amputated) and the fascinating insights it provided on the functioning of the brain.

To a question on psychiatry, he said the field of neuroscience will eventually assimilate psychiatry as the latter, though its contributions are important, was often vague and lacked coherence in its theories to understand the brain. =

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2022 9:37:21 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/neuroscience-needs-a-breakthrough-like-discovery-of-dna-double-helix/article65617154.ece