John O'Keefe tells Jim al-Khalili how winning the Nobel Prize was a bit of a double-edged sword, especially as he liked his life in the lab, before being made famous by the award.
John won the prize for his once radical insight into how we know where we are. When he first described the idea of ‘place cells’ in the brain back in 1971, many scoffed. Today it is accepted scientific wisdom that our spatial ability depends on these highly specialised brain cells.
A keen basketball player,John says, he has put this principle to the test by trying to shoot hoops with his eyes closed. But this belies the years of painstaking experiments on rats that John performed to prove that a rat’s ability to know where it is depends not only on its sense of smell, but also on a cognitive map, or internal GPS, inside the rat's brain.
He describes how he listened in on the unique firing patterns of individual rat brain cells using the tiniest electrodes. “You almost imagine they are singing to y
No content, yet.No tracklist supplied.
No content, yet.There are no related shows.