Nov 22, 2020
Despite multi-million dollar research programmes and
impressive technical progress, neuroscience still can’t explain
basic systems - like a maggot’s tiny brain or the grinding of a
Professor Matthew Cobb joins me to discuss the
intellectual history of neuroscience, his frank assessment of
where we’re at, and how we can make progress.
- How the idea of the brain as computer got started in the
mid-C20th, and why it’s probably wrong. (10:53)
- The challenge of the Grandmother Cell - and why some neurons
selectively respond to Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry!
- What have we really learnt from fMRI? Is it “just a bit crap”?
- Why the Human Brain Project was so controversial - and how its
has spectacularly failed to live up to its own rhetoric
- Could a neuroscientists understand a microprocessor? We discuss
the brilliant study by Eric Jonas and Konrad Paul Kording.
- The amazing achievement of artificial limbs (49:50)
- How useful is the ‘predictive brain theory’ favoured by Anil
Seth, Karl Friston and Andy Clark?
- “Show me in a maggot!” Why we should get behind a Maggot
Brain project. (58:40)
Matthew’s book The Idea of the Brain
has been shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford prize. Check it out
To get in touch with Ilan or join the conversation,
you can find NOUS on Twitter @NSthepodcast or on email at