Doing the Brain Wave

SciDi: Frontiers of the Brain – The WaveMusic; Ambience: Baseball cheer JB: “When we look at waves in a stadium or we look at traffic jams on the highway — those are really interesting to us, even though we study neuroscience because they potentially tell us how simple units can interact to produce very complex things.”JM: Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries – a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. We’re with John Beggs, a biophysicist at Indiana University, who studies the human brain.JB: “I wanted to spend a couple of minutes just talking about emergent properties. What do I mean by that? Well, most things have properties that are pretty easy to see, so if you pick up a rock, for example, it has a certain amount of mass, it has a temperature, it has a volume. But when you get large groups of things that are interacting, sometimes properties emerge that aren’t there when you just look at an individual from the group. Say for example we’ve got a big stadium, and in the big stadium you got lots and lots of people and they can get together and form the wave that slowly travels around the stadium. Now the wave is not something that you could ever understand by just studying one person by themselves. You know, you could see a person stand up and then sit down, maybe stand up and even, you know throw their hands and go woo-woo. But you’d never know anything about how fast the wave would travel, how broad it would be. Now, the reason I’m bringing this up is because I think this is very important in the way we study how the brain processes information. The brain is made up of billions and billions of little neurons, and each one of these neurons, or brain cells, is probably not doing anything too amazing by itself. But collectively, as they interact, they produce something that is far beyond the properties that you can infer from just looking at one neuron.” Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.

Doing the Brain Wave

How does a crowd of sports enthusiasts function like a brain?
Air Date:10/13/2020
Scientist:
Transcript:

SciDi: Frontiers of the Brain - The WaveMusic; Ambience: Baseball cheer JB: "When we look at waves in a stadium or we look at traffic jams on the highway -- those are really interesting to us, even though we study neuroscience because they potentially tell us how simple units can interact to produce very complex things."JM: Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries - a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. We're with John Beggs, a biophysicist at Indiana University, who studies the human brain.JB: "I wanted to spend a couple of minutes just talking about emergent properties. What do I mean by that? Well, most things have properties that are pretty easy to see, so if you pick up a rock, for example, it has a certain amount of mass, it has a temperature, it has a volume. But when you get large groups of things that are interacting, sometimes properties emerge that aren't there when you just look at an individual from the group. Say for example we've got a big stadium, and in the big stadium you got lots and lots of people and they can get together and form the wave that slowly travels around the stadium. Now the wave is not something that you could ever understand by just studying one person by themselves. You know, you could see a person stand up and then sit down, maybe stand up and even, you know throw their hands and go woo-woo. But you'd never know anything about how fast the wave would travel, how broad it would be. Now, the reason I'm bringing this up is because I think this is very important in the way we study how the brain processes information. The brain is made up of billions and billions of little neurons, and each one of these neurons, or brain cells, is probably not doing anything too amazing by itself. But collectively, as they interact, they produce something that is far beyond the properties that you can infer from just looking at one neuron." Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.