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Tag: neuroscience

Engineers, techies delve into the mysteries of brain

The following article, published in The Times of India covers the Harvard South Asia Institute Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginning Program (B4), which aims to aims to build a scientific research corridor and will engage scientists from India and Harvard through exchange programs: 1) Science and Technology Fellowships at Harvard and other peer institutions in the Boston area. 2) A two-week Young Scientists Development Course in Bangalore. The program builds upon SAI’s Resonance Course on Neuroscience in 2013.


72By Sreemoyee Chatterjee

BANGALORE – Imagine a human brain controlling the movement of a prosthetic arm just like a real one or a robot with motor skills exactly similar to that of humans or a machine with 100% vision accuracy like that of humans. A bunch of 25 young students of technology is now learning the multidisciplinary dimensions of neuroscience at a two weeklong workshop in the city.

The Harvard South Asia Institute workshop seeks to introduce Indian undergraduates and postgraduates to the excitement of brain science. Interestingly, all participants are either from electrical, mechanical, chemical or software engineering backgrounds or are students of bioscience and are driven by an eagerness to know all about the brain.

Venki N Murthy, professor of molecular and cellular biology and director of undergraduate studies in neurobiology at Harvard University, and Laura Magnotti, advisor, neurobiology concentration at Harvard University, are conducting the workshop at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru.

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Why study the brain?

“How can you possibly not be excited to study what the brain does?” This is what Professor Venkatesh Murthy, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard, asked viewers across South Asia at SAI’s second webinar of the semester on Friday, March 14.

Using video conference technology provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), 15 universities in South Asia participated in the interactive session about the importance of studying neuroscience. Because everything we do comes down to the brain, the field has implications not just for science, but for all disciplines, Professor Murthy explained.

Murthy explained that the brain is incredibly complex. With 100 billion neurons, there are many things scientists still have to learn about the brain. Looking at just one area of the brain is like saying, “I know what the entire city is doing on a whole by looking at just one person.” We should think of how the brain works as a world wide web network: many computers talking to each other in a complex language.

Murthy predicted that in the next 100 years, we will see many advances in neuroscience. He explained that the brain’s ability to make sense of chaos can help us learn how to create things like machines and other technologies. For example, creators of Facebook’s facial recognition software can take inspiration from how the brain processes visual images. The growing field of big data can also learn from how the brain processes large amounts of information.

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Updates from the Resonance Program in Delhi

By Amy Kalia

The students had set the tone in the first two days. Contrary to my expectations, we were not dealing with a timid group who would soak in our words without question. We were not going to get away so easily. The students have used every opportunity to ask questions, make speculations, and offer critiques of what we present to them, often starting with the phrase, “Sir, I have a doubt…” The conversations are not limited to the classroom, but rather continue during tea breaks, walks back to the guesthouse, and over meals. These enthusiastic minds never hesitate to squeeze in one more query… “How is binocular vision processed in the brain?” “Why do people who have epileptic seizures not remember what happened during the seizure?” “I think this method of measuring acuity does not account for the distortions that arise when you measure acuity the other way.” I think I speak for the rest of the teaching staff when I say that we are thrilled by this unmeasured curiosity! This is how learning is supposed to happen!

Read more on SAI’s Blog!

Read more about the Resonance Program here.

SAI Summer Activities

From neuroscience to gender justice to films screenings and alumni gatherings across South Asia, SAI has an exciting summer planned both on campus and in the region. Check this space for details, and continue to check the website throughout the summer as events are added.

SAI Summer Film Series

Harvard Campus – Thursdays, June 27 – August 1

The South Asia Institute, in conjunction with Harvard Summer School’s course ‘Beginning Hindi,’ presents the third annual film series. Showing a mixture of films from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the film series will be held on Thursdays from June 27 through August 1 at S010, CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA. View the full schedule here.

Frontiers in Neuroscience

ITT Delhi – Saturday, June 29

As part of the Resonance Initiative, a collaboration between MIT, Harvard, and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, a half day conference on the ‘Frontiers of Neuroscience’ will be held at the ITT campus in Delhi, featuring presentations by Harvard and MIT faculty, and speakers from industry, government and business, who will share the challenges they are grappling with in the broad domain of neuroscience. More information on the event, and resonance program, here.

Alumni Events in Karachi and Lahore

Karachi, July 2 and Lahore, July 4

An evening of reconnecting with Harvard alumni and classmates from all over Pakistan! The venue for both cities will be communicated via email to registered guests only. Register here. Meena Hewett, Executive Director of Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI), will be visiting the region to explore collaborations between key stakeholders in Pakistan and Harvard University. The alumni network in Pakistan is a critical resource to be brought into the conversation.
Organizers: Harvard Club of Pakistan, Harvard Pakistan Student Group, HBS Club of Pakistan

Gender Justice, Criminal Law, and Curricular Reforms Conference

India International Centre, Delhi – Friday & Saturday, July 12 – 13

This conference will be the first step in convening a group of stakeholders from the public and private sectors, the academy, service providers and NGOs. The meeting will provide an opportunity for information exchange and discussion across a range of issues – legislative, educational, policy and service oriented – relevant to sexual assault and gender violence in India and, more generally, South Asia. More details on the event, available here.

One Harvard, Young Harvard

India International Centre, Delhi – Thursday, July 18

Join current Harvard students and alumni for a night of socializing and networking. Open to Harvard students, alumni, and guests. Check our website for registration details.

Child and Adolescents in India – A Critical Rights Agenda

India Habitat Centre, Delhi – Thursday, July 25

Cosponsored with the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights and the India Institute of Public Health, this event will focus on issues of adolescent empowerment, child protection, challenges to implementation, and next steps. More details on this event to follow.