Moran Cerf is a professor of neuroscience (department of neurosurgery, LIJ) and business (Kellogg School of Management). His research uses methods from neuroscience to understand the underlying mechanisms of our psychology. He works with patients undergoing brain-surgery to study behavior, emotion, decision making and dreams, by directly recording the activity of individual nerve cells using electrodes implanted in their brain.
Prof. Cerf is coming to Sofia for the WEBIT.FESTIVAL, where some of world's top enterprise leaders, Europe's top policy makers and the hottest startups and founders will give a talk. In a special interview for PREMIUM Lifestyle the neuroscientist and former hacker gives us a sneak peek:
Mr. Cerf, having listened to your presentation at TED 2016: DREAMS, we’re very excited that you will be among the speakers at the Webit Festival in Sofia. Will you share with us the topic(s) you’ll be addressing during the conference?
The topic of my talk will be „changing behaviors”’ and how our recent knowledge in neuroscience teaches us how we can indeed do that. By “changing a behavior” I mean anything from stopping to smoke if you want to, exercising or dieting even though it is hard, recovering from bad experiences that are traumatic to us, or simply picking up new habits. Some of the tools to do that involve teaching people how to activate and change their memories, some involve how to train the brain to overcome impulsive behaviors, and some involve a re-wiring of the brain in key moments when it is possible to manipulate it, such as our sleep.
According to you, dreams have been an interesting but understudied field. What do humans know for sure about them? Are dreams merely a continuation of our ordinary awake selves? What is the potential of studying them?
Humans have been fascinated by dreams for millennia. The idea that our brain generates a “movie” for us when we are sleeping is enchanting. And the question of whether this movie has a meaning, or if it is even similar to how we remember it when we are awake, is fascinating to us. For centuries this was something scientists and therapists have been trying to penetrate but we were bound by the fact that we cannot access anyone’s head so have to rely on your memory and stories about it when you are awake. Now,
for the first time in history, we have the unique ability to actually access people’s thoughts
when they are asleep and extract some of the content. This opens up a new world of interesting understanding about our personality, who we are and how we operate. This is one of the biggest things neuroscience can offer to the world as a practical way to change us and give us a better understanding of our own internal world. We know that dreams are inspired by the awake self, and we know that they are a manifestation of something in our personality. But there are a few theories on their function and meaning - and those range from claims that dreams are merely our brain’s way of “defragmenting” the memory hard drive, to theories about their way of helping us make better decisions about the future. In my talk at Webit I will touch base on some of those explanations to what dreams are, and I am happy to elaborate on other interpretations.
Moran Cerf: The next generation of technology will be more remarkable than we can imagine
Whether it’s dreams, “hacking” our own brains or the crossover between technology and healthcare, the neuroscientist prof. Moran Cerf has a lot to tell you.