Emory Report
June 8, 2009
Volume 61, Number 32


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June 8, 2009

Using computers to map the brain
Purkinje cells are among the most complex neurons in the brain. Hundreds of thousands of Purkinje cells are located in the cerebellar cortex, and each receives inputs from up to 200,000 other neurons.

“That just tells you how densely wired the brain is — it’s a complex grid of connections,” said Emory computational neuroscientist Dieter Jaeger, who spoke at a May 27–29 workshop on Computational Modeling of Complex Human Systems. Jaeger’s lab uses software to make 3-D models of neurons from rat brains.

“We’re trying to figure out the essence of information processing in the brain, and find clues to help cure diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s,” he said. —Carol Clark

Seeing a forest’s value amid trees
Residents of Amazonas once referred to the tropical forest covering much of the Brazilian state as “mato,” which roughly translates as “weed,” said Virgilio Viana, director of the Amazonas Sustainability Foundation, during a May 21 lecture. Viana spearheaded efforts to change negative perceptions of the forest, using the slogan, “Forests are worth more standing than cut.”

“That slogan has become almost a mantra across Brazil,” Viana said. “You have to simplify what sustainability means into very simple words.” By combining education with economic policies that benefit residents who do not harm forests, Amazonas has become a showcase of sustainability.

“The previous government used to give away chainsaws,” Viana said, noting that a paradigm shift has reduced the rate of deforestation by 70 percent since 2003. “At the same time, Amazonas has had a significant growth in its economy” —Carol Clark

What you can control now
Speaking as part of the Goizueta Dean’s Leadership Speaker Series on April 8, Deloitte LLP Chairman Sharon Allen discussed the importance of perspective when navigating tough times. Three issues you can control regardless of the economic environment:

Decision-making: The challenge is to carefully weigh options, consider the impact, and stand firm, Allen said.
Ethical behavior: “Acting ethically at all times is absolutely fundamental to making your personal brand a perpetually appreciating asset.”

Career-life balance: After sharing her personal story, Allen noted, ”I remained true to myself at every stage of my journey.” —Kathryn Whitbourne