Nerves and Synapses – A General Preview


August 14, 2014


My talk is a brief preview of neuroscience (pre-101..). I will share with you some of the brain’s mysteries and will illustrate the capacity of neurons to rewire and thus to learn (and forget). To do so, we will discuss (briefly) how neurons convey information, what are the principles underlying neuronal communication and the fundamental rules of electrical and chemical messengers. The uniformity and the variability of neurons that are involved in high brain functions (mathematics?) and those that make sure that we quickly remove our finger from a hot plate will be discussed. I will mention the capacity of the human brain vis-à-vis that of our cousins, the chimps, and other nerve systems. Is our brain really so different? (Probably so), what makes us human? (I have no clue..), why are we all fascinated by the brain? (easy to demonstrate). I will introduce you to synapses and describe classical and novel approaches to understand the brain (or at least better describe it). Importantly, I will emphasize how essential it is to study the brain at different levels of resolution and by applying an interdisciplinary approach. I promise to pose more questions than answers…


Michal Linial

Michal Linial is a Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular Biology and Bioinformatics at the Hebrew University. Director of the SCCB, the Sudarsky Center for Computational Biology (from 2003). Director of the Director of the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS, from 2012). ML had published 180 scientific peer reviewed publications, book chapters and abstracts in proceedings on diverse topics in molecular biology, cellular biology, bioinformatics, neuroscience, systems biology and cell biology. A common these is the integration of tools and algorithms to improve knowledge extraction. M. Linial has an experimental and computational laboratory. M.L is the leader and the founder of the first established elite educational program in Israel for Computer Science and Life Science (from 1999) for Undergraduate-Graduate students. Her expertise in the synapse let to the study of protein families, protein-protein interactions with a global view on protein networks and their regulation. Molecular biology, cell biology and biochemical methods are applied in all research initiated in her laboratory. She and her laboratory are developing new computational and technological tools for large-scale cell biological research M. Linial and her colleagues apply Mass spectrometry (MS) based and genomics (DNA Chip, RNA-Seq, miRNA profiling) approaches for studying changes in neuronal development, and disease oriented research. The solid informatics approaches are used for large database storage and constant updating of several systems in view of classification, validation and functional predictions. M.L. and her students has been an active participant in NIH structural genomics initiatives and she participated in Structural Genomics effort Task for target selections. She and her colleagues have created several global classification systems that are used by the biomedical and biology communities. Most notably are the ProtoNet, EVEREST, miRror-Suite ProTarget and PANDORA, NeuroPID, ClanTox and more. All those developed web systems are provided as an open source for investigators.