VisualCortexFilter: Hubel and Wiesel have a chat
October 27, 2011 5:03 AM   Subscribe

Professors David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel (Nobel Prize 1981; Hubel's lecture; Wiesel's lecture) are responsible for "accidentally (YT)" (other movies) discovering a fundamental property of how the visual areas of the brain process information: single neurons respond to lines and edges of objects in visual space (pdf). This was an enormous leap forward in our understanding of visual cortex, and demonstrated that a cortical neuron can form outputs that are more complex than any of its inputs. They went on to pioneer the field of plasticity (or learning) in cortex. Here they sit together for an hour and chat about the early days of exploring the visual cortex.
posted by FrereKhan (8 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
If they discovered it on purpose, that would mean they knew about it ahead of time, yeah?
posted by LogicalDash at 6:04 AM on October 27, 2011

...Or they might have had a correct hypothesis about what they were looking for, rather than going in blind and stumbling upon the right thing.
posted by FrereKhan at 6:06 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by LogicalDash at 6:21 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh my gosh, thank you so much! I'm a Ph.D. student, and my thesis project is kind of a... take on Hubel and Wiesel's work, with modern molecular tools... they are the giants in my field, and even though their famous papers were written almost 50 years ago, they are still assigned to neuroscience students these days (although of course more progress has since been made). I heard about that talk only 30 minutes before it was about to happen, and I really wanted to go, but I couldn't make it over in time because I had a meeting. I'm so glad you posted this! I had no idea it was going to be recorded.
posted by Cygnet at 7:44 AM on October 27, 2011

@Cygnet, where are you working?
posted by FrereKhan at 7:46 AM on October 27, 2011

FrereKhan - Graduated from MIT a few years ago (which is why I was on their email lists), now at BU School of Medicine.
posted by Cygnet at 7:58 AM on October 27, 2011

So are you going after the building-a-receptive-field story, or something about plasticity?
posted by FrereKhan at 11:23 AM on October 27, 2011

I heard Torsten Wiesel speak on February 19th, 1987 at my university. How do I know? Because I still have my autographed copy of the program guide from his lecture. His topic was "Brain Mechanisms in Vision".

Thanks for the post!
posted by grimjeer at 5:31 PM on October 27, 2011

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