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Science in the City
Credit: Courtesy of Pacific Science Center

What we know about human consciousness

If you’ve been wondering what science has learned about human consciousness in the last three thousand years or so, look no further. Your guide will be Dr. Christof Koch, the Chief Scientist and President of the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

Koch says his passion is for “neurons – the atoms of perception, memory, behavior and consciousness – their diverse shapes, electrical behaviors, and their computational function within the mammalian brain, in particular the neocortex.”

That sounds like a literally microscopic approach, but Koch seems to have the soul of a friendly philosopher. He’s very good at explaining how we came to understand human consciousness over the centuries, and what we know about it now. If you miss Oliver Sacks’ musings on neurology, you may find this talk—based on his book “The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness is Widespread but Can’t be Computed”-- has a similar tenor.

This episode of Speakers Forum is part of KUOW’s ongoing partnership with the Pacific Science Center in their Science in the City series. Dr. Christof Koch spoke at The PACCAR IMAX Theater on October 5. Come back next month for another talk in the series, Dangerous Products: In the Home and in our Stomachs.