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Mapping the Brain: Reconstructing the Cerebral Cortex

10-28-2010 10:19 AM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: German Center for Research and Innovation

NEW YORK (October 27, 2010) – The German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI), in cooperation with the Max Planck Florida Institute, will host a lecture on how nocturnal rodents, such as rats, rely on sensory input from their facial whiskers for navigation through the environment. The event will feature a lecture by German Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Bert Sakmann on Wednesday, November 3, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the German House New York (871 United Nations Plaza, btw. 48th & 49th Streets).

Dr. Bert Sakmann was awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with physicist Erwin Neher for their discoveries on single channels in cells. These discoveries were made possible by their invention of the groundbreaking patch clamp technique, which is now commonplace in laboratories around the world. The patch clamp technique allows researchers to measure electrical activity and chemical flow across cell membranes and single ion channels.
As the inaugural scientific director and research group leader of the digital neuroanatomy group at the Max Planck Florida Institute, Dr. Sakmann now conducts research for a program dedicated to obtaining a three-dimensional map of the normal rodent brain. On November 3, he will discuss “Mapping the Brain: Reconstructing the Cerebral Cortex” at the GCRI. In his lecture, Dr. Sakmann will explain how nocturnal rodents, like rats, rely on sensory input from their facial whiskers for navigation through the environment. During exploratory behaviors such animals actively move their vibrissae back and forth, “touching” everything within reach. Sensory input from “touch” further enables rats to locate objects, discriminate textures or estimate distances. Whiskers can hence be regarded as the rat’s fingertips.

The German Center for Research and Innovation, which opened in February 2010, provides information and support for the realization of cooperative and collaborative projects between North America and Germany in the humanities, science, and technology. With the goal of enhancing communication on the critical challenges of the 21st century, GCRI hosts a wide range of events from lectures and exhibitions to workshops and science dinners. Launched as a cornerstone of the German government’s initiative to internationalize science and research, it is one of five centers worldwide.
The GCRI website, www.germaninnovation.org, will be launched soon.

German Center for Research and Innovation
Andrea Deierlein
Communications Officer
871 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
Deierlein@GermanInnovation.org
(212) 339 8606, ext. 302

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