The brain: the key for interacting with our environment

Discover Kiri Couchman, L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science 2015 French Fellowships and PhD at Institut Pasteur.

Our behaviour is constantly adjusting, depending on the multitude of information we receive and, when the capacity for processing this information is not at its optimum, certain malfunctions can be observed, as can be seen in autism. How has the brain acquired the ability to process complex sensory information? This is an area of research needing groundwork that fascinates Kiri Couchman, an Australian doctorate student at Institut Pasteur, in the Dynamic Neural Imaging Unit. “I have always wanted to do exploration, make discoveries. Being a neuroscientist is about placing oneself truly at the limits of knowledge, it’s fascinating”, she says. This capacity in the brain is possible due to neurons that accomplish a multitude of mathematical calculations from the data they receive, from simple addition to very complex operations. Kiri Couchman uses the cerebellum as a system model to learn about the general characteristics of information processing in neuronal circuits. Her work will enable us to understand certain disorders where this information is not assimilated.

We have to understand how normal brains work if we want to understand how abnormal brains are broken or malfunctioning.
It’s always kind of amazing to me that everything we do and interact with in the world is essentially just ions moving across cell membranes. It’s a little bit weird. For me, I’m not trying to save humanity, it’s fundamental research that is very much curiosity-driven. I want to know how stuff works


For Women in Science

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