Over 30,000 neurobiologists are in Washington for an annual conference. Only a small number of them are Israeli, to be sure, but I had the privilege of listening to, and meeting, a number of them at two sessions today.
The first was a lunch meeting sponsored by the Washington chapter of American Associates for Ben Gurion University of the Negev with Professor Amir Kaniel, who spoke about the relationships between the brain and movement and how the brain’s functions could be replicated by robotics. He also spoke about memory, and how the function of memory was not to hold the details of the past, but rather to help the brain prepare for the future. A fascinating thought.
This evening at the Israeli Embassy, the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel sponsored a dinner and brief program for visiting Israeli neurobiologists and local support groups for five of the major Israeli universities, Ben Gurion, Hebrew, Haifa, Technion and Weizmann Institute. It was a very friendly and comfortable affair, with good food and camaraderie.
But the highlights were the brief statements given by various researchers from these and other institutions concerning their research – why do elderly people have failing memories, what is the effect of traumatic brain injury on neonates, how can PSTD be treated, are there genetic preconditions that would make PSTD more likely, how do you deal with Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s-like diseases? The breath of the research is extraordinary.
And of course Israel is only one country. Imagine what is going on world-wide.