From the Neuro-Bureau: The Brave New World of Neuroscience

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by Mauktik Kulkarni on Monday, January 13, 2014

Geekery (Science, Tech and Life Hacks)

Session type

Technical level


In the scientific world, neuroscience is the new kid on the block. Sci-fi movies like The Manchurian Candidate and Inception have piqued people's interest in the possibilities of neuroscience. As exciting as the new discoveries in neuroscience are, they are also raising important issues about ethics, morality and how far science should go.

With the help of thought experiments, live demos and videos of some intriguing, yet scary experiments, the talk will pose tough questions about morality, challenge the audience’s understanding of the world around them, bring in a new awareness about relationships and change the way people look at life.


Do we have free will? If we do, what are we doing with it? What is consciousness? Do dogs and cats have consciousness? What about ants? Are we rational creatures? If we are, what happens to our brains when we are in love? Why does logic go out the window when we are in love? Does neuroscience have answers to these mind-bending questions? Will neuroscience someday allow us to literally bend someone’s mind?

Over the past three decades, neuroscience has emerged as one of the most intriguing fields of research. Often termed as the final frontier, the brain is the most complicated, fascinating, and least understood organ of all the biological systems. In addition to developing new tools to understand the inner workings of the brain, neuroscience has also started posing some tough social and ethical issues related to science. The implications of new neuroscientific discoveries and inventions are not limited to the medical field. Rather, new techniques aimed at "reading" human thoughts to understand what actions they are planning and directly controlling thoughts and actions are bringing up philosophical issues about free will, relationships and our belief systems.

This lecture attempts to raise public awareness about neuroscience with a fun, interactive approach without getting bogged down by the technical jargon of a scientific talk.


An LCD projector and speakers that can be connected to a laptop.

Speaker bio

Like a million other Indians, I finished my BE in Electronics & Telecom from P.I.C.T., Pune and appeared for GRE. In the US, I got an MS in Biophysics & Computational Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and another MS in Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University.

Throughout my career, I have been obsessed with the workings of the brain and the meaning of 'mind.' I routinely deliver lectures on entrepreneurship, innovations, wanderlust, neuroscience, and anything else that catches my fancy. Here is a short list of lectures I have given in the past:

Invited Lecture - “Carpe Diem! – Things You do not Learn in Classrooms” (Vishveshwarya National Institute of Technology, The Loft in Pune, Rotary Club in Pune, etc.)
This lecture highlighted the places visited, intriguing people encountered, and knowledge acquired during a one-year, round-the-world backpacking trip in which I managed to visit 36 countries across all continents.

Invited Lecture - “The Brave New World of Neuroscience” (The Louisville Free Public Library)
As a part of the "Neuroscientists in Your Neighborhood" lecture series, aimed at raising public awareness of issues related to neuroscience, the lecture focused on the latest discoveries in neuroscience and their social and ethical implications.

Invited Lecture - “Peace and Violence in Guatemala” (University of Louisville)
As a part of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, the university had organized a lecture series followed by a panel discussion on the political and economic climate in Guatemala. The lecture focused on my experiences in Guatemala and what role economic development can play in improving the political climate.

Invited Lecture - “Autobiography? Writing 'A Ghost of Che – A Motorcycle Ride Through Space, Time, Life and Love'” (University of Louisville)
For the 39th annual Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture, a panel discussion was organized for "The Creative Process of Biographical Latin American Fiction." As one of the three panelists, my talk focused on the process of refining and enrichment of autobiographical works.

Invited Lecture - “Ventures and Adventures” (Crane House Asia Institute, Marathi Vishwa (New York/New Jersey), University of Louisville, Carmichael’s Bookstore)
This lecture focused on the exciting adventures, exhilarating experiences, and insights gleaned from a solo, 5000-mile motorcycle trip in South America and their applicability in growing a start-up venture.