Formal methods of scientific discourse

I heard a neuro talk recently at a local university that had a pretty hyped title advertisement. From the title, it appeared to be some kind of general (non-technical talk), but it was difficult to know exactly what to expect. (I am being purposefully vague.) The speaker presented various bits of research from the last 15 years in an attempt to present peripheral evidence of a new way of looking at the brain. While the talk didn’t really present any new information, per se, I think the value of this particular presentation was apparent, since it explicitly calls for many people to start thinking about the issues at hand.

Normally, talks present a relatively small body of information that is highly specific to a subfield of neuroscience, and it’s often the case that only experts really benefit. However, this talk was an aggregation of observations that the speaker was hoping would converge upon a unique way of investigating the brain. The basic point of the talk, though, was to encourage other researchers to think about their systems in this new perspective, in the hopes that more people will be motivated to work on it.

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