How is it possible that a bird is able to perform some of the same tasks as a chimpanzee, or even a human? This should be impossible, at least on a cognitive level, given everything we have learned about the brain in the last century. According to a long-held theory, the absence of a cortex and the significantly different structure of birds’ brains should lead to very weak cognitive properties. Onur Güntürkün’s celebrated work has proven otherwise and brought new insights into how cognition, thoughts, and memories are created in the brain. A professor of behavioural neuroscience at Ruhr University Bochum, Onur’s decades-long foundational research into brain development has challenged previous assumptions about the structure of the brain and its functioning. His research into the cognitive abilities of mammals and birds, from the level of the brain cell to behavioural patterns, has shown that brains with vastly different architectures can make very similar connections. At Falling Walls, Onur will reveal some universal ideas on how our thinking evolved over millions of years and explain how his research may lead to a better understanding of the princip les of cognition and help to unravel unsolved mysteries around self-recognition and consciousness.

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