262: Matthew Cobb | The Past And Future Of Neuroscience In “The Idea Of The Brain”

Welcome Professor Matthew Cobb of the University of Manchester, author of The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience, to episode 262 of the show. His latest book is about the history of neuroscience, and its recent roots, and how that develops the idea of the brain, while our current understanding of the brain is still very limited. Inspirations come from other researchers, as well as Danish scientist Nicolas Steno of the 17th century.

Professor Cobb is is Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester, and got his Ph.D. in Psychology and Genetics from the University of Sheffield in England. He had a postdoctoral position at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. Others books of his include The Egg & Sperm Race and Life’s Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code. He has studied animal behavior, human psychology, science history, and more.

Show notes:

  • how Professor Cobb got into the study of the mind, neuroscience, and fly larvae growth and processes
  • the way that Nicolas Steno informed the way Professor Cobb looks at the mind
  • the reductionist view, and how it does not allow for picking up on information regarding detailed nuance
  • his upcoming book on smell, and how that relates to the virus of our current pandemic, with its attachment to smell receptors
  • how one structure of the brain is not alone in processing information, separate from other regions of the brain
  • Eve Marder, and her study on the small number of neurons in the lobster’s stomach, with associated models of these neurons
  • research in the field done in Manchester and the UK region
  • fly maggots and their neurons, as well as the priorities that their narrow neural system requires
  • how maggots have biological clocks in the same light as humans and other animals
  • replacement of neurons and memories in small animals
  • being skeptical of science that has come before, versus going with the research that has been read (question inspired by Professor Cobb’s recent interview with past interviewee Michael Shermer)
  • a message for all

It was good to have Professor Cobb on the show. You can check out The Idea of the Brain on Amazon, his upcoming book Smell with Oxford University Press, follow on Twitter @MatthewCobb, or look at his academic biography.