Dr. Christof Koch from the Allen Institute for Brain Science talks about how the Institute embarked on an ambitious 10-year initiative to understand the structure and function of the neocortex and associated satellite structures in humans and mice. They are setting up high throughput pipelines to exhaustively characterise the morphology, electrophysiology and transcriptome of cell types (brain-map.org) as well as their synaptic interconnections in the lab mouse and in human neocortex (via a combination of foetal, neurosurgical and post-mortem tissues). They are building brain observatories to image the activities of neurons throughout the cortico-thalamic system in behaving mice, to record their electrical activities, and to analyse their connectivity at the ultra-structural level. They are constructing biophysically detailed as well as simplified computer simulations of these networks and of their information processing capabilities focusing on how the neocortical tissue gives rise to perception, behaviour and consciousness.
Dr. Christof Koch has dedicated his life to researching neuroscience, having spent 25 years at the California Institute of Technology, USA as a Professor in Biology and Engineering. In 2011, Dr Koch left academia to join the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to creating resources to fuel discovery among researchers worldwide and to advance the scientific community's understanding of the brain in health and disease. He is leading a 10-year, large-scale, high throughput effort to build brain observatories to map, analyse, and understand the cerebral cortex. Dr. Koch has authored more than 300 scientific papers and articles, eight patents, and five books concerned with the way neurons process information and the neuronal and computational basis of visual perception, selective attention, and consciousness. Together with his long-time collaborator, Francis Crick, Dr. Koch pioneered the scientific study of consciousness. His latest book is Consciousness-Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist.