Neurobiologist Stuart Firestein, one of the world's leading experts on olfaction, joins Bernard Baars to discuss the similarities and surprising differences of smell and taste in relation to vision, hearing and somatosensory systems, like touch. The olfactory system presents us with alternative viewsof how sensory stimuli are parsed in the brainand how we integrate those into some sort of conscious worldview.
Dr. Stuart Firestein specializes in the olfactory system ⎯ why and how our brains and noses sense smell. Stuart is the former chair of Columbia University's Department of Biological Sciences and a neurobiology professor, where his laboratory studies the vertebrate olfactory system, possibly the best chemical detector on the face of the planet.
Stuart is devoted to the history, evolution, and future of science. Author of "Ignorance: How it Drives Science" and "Failure: Why Science is so Successful” (OUP), his books cast science as an unending quest to illuminate ignorance and failure as an essential component in that process.
0:00 - Intro
3:59 - The Ups and Downs of Consciousness in Science
12:30 - Stuart’s Journey from Theater to Neuroscience
19:14 - Is Olfaction an Idiosyncratic or Unique Brain System?
25:30 - The Connection Between Smell, Memory & Emotion
34:37 - The Immune System Recognizes a Repertoire of Molecules Just Like the Olfactory System
42:51 - The Regenerative Capabilities of Olfactory Neurons
51:48 - Are Olfactory Receptors Like Other Chemoreceptors?
01:02:34 - The Integration of Olfactory Stimuli into a Chemical Panorama
01:10:24 - Is Olfaction a Low- or High-Dimensional Input System?
01:16:56 - How to Improve Science Learning
01:22:25 - The Value of Ignorance and Failure in Science