Mapping Human Cerebral Cortex: Structure, Function, Connectivity, Development, and Evolution

  • Speaker
  • David Van Essen, Ph.D.Alumni Endowed Professor of Neuroscience, Washington University in St. Louis
Date & Time


About Life Sciences

Life Sciences lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

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The cerebral cortex is the dominant structure of the human brain and is chiefly responsible for what makes us unique as a species and as individuals. Recent advances in noninvasive imaging combined with invasive approaches in animal models are transforming our understanding of the human brain’s structure, function, connectivity, evolution, health and development.

In this lecture, David Van Essen will discuss progress in understanding the human cerebral cortex in the context of health and disease. This discussion will include an overview of basic principles of cortical organization and connectivity from studies of laboratory animals and analyses of individual variability in humans. He will highlight a new map (‘parcellation’) of the human cerebral cortex based on data from the Human Connectome Project. Comparisons of cortical organization across species reveal valuable insights about what makes us uniquely human.

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About the Speaker

Van Essen is the alumni endowed professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis. He trained at Caltech and Harvard University, and his research career has focused on the cerebral cortex of humans and nonhuman primates, He has served in many leadership positions, including chair of the Anatomy and Neurobiology Department at Washington University and president of the Society for Neuroscience. He has received many awards for excellence in teaching and research and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

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