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In this podcast, Keith Hengen, Ph.D., Department of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, discusses his lab’s interesting work and research.


Hengen details the kinds of research his lab is focused on, and his lab’s goals. Hengen explains basic brain function. According to the current research, the brain is not ‘locked in,’ our synapses respond to countless experiences every day, all day, and while change is constantly occurring—stability exists. Every day most of us learn new ideas and concepts, but the core foundation of who we are remains constant and stable. And even though there are millions of interactions and inputs, the human brain is computationally stable. This is one of the many ways our human brains are different from artificial neural networks. The human brain can continue to gather information at an incredibly high rate and still maintain its core identity and foundation, its stability.


The Ph.D.’s neuroscience laboratory studies the role of sleep and wake in chaperoning certain interactions between the distinct plasticity mechanisms. Their research is founded in the self-organization of distinct intact neural networks that provide for functioning processes such as perception, sensation, and cognition. The researchers are interested in how information transmission within these critical systems is established during a development process, and thus how it’s all disrupted in disease. 


Hengen provides further information on the lab’s work and some of their important findings. He discusses various cortex issues in healthy mice, elaborating on the organizational processes, and criticality. Hengen gives an overview of how networks of neurons work, and the ways that information is encoded.

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