Professor Glyn Humphreys - Unlocking the secrets of the brain transcript

Professor Glyn Humphreys' work focuses on understanding the functions and structure of the brain, particularly how we learn and process the world around us.

Title: Professor Glyn Humphreys
Duration: 2.44 mins

Speaker Names (if given): S1 Professor Glyn Humphreys

S1 I’m Glyn Humphreys: I’m Director of the Brain Imaging Centre in Birmingham and I’m in the School of Psychology. My current research is looking at people who have had stroke and trying to see how we can help them recover from the stroke; how they can improve their ability to remember things; can we improve their attention?; can we improve their ability to recognise and act upon the world? 

We have many facilities within our department. What you can see behind me is an MR scanner, which takes very high resolution images of the brain. They can be pictures of the static structure of the brain, but also we can measure activity in the brain as people see things, speak, remember, their memories and so forth. A lot of our work is concerned with people recovering from brain injury, but also people with Alzheimer’s Disease for instance, and we’re hoping that by understanding the brain injury better, being able to predict whose going to make a good recovery or not and designing rehabilitation that will be suited for the individual, we can make a real difference.

In the longer run, what we’re looking to do is actually develop interfaces that will recognise what their brain is doing and indeed use external devices like an artificial hand that we can drive using the brain activity.

We’re very keen that undergraduates here have direct experience of research excellence. So we have research experts who are directly involved in delivering our undergraduate course. Students will have the opportunity to interact with them both in tutorials and in the kind of project work they carry out. 

Student learning over the last ten years has changed hugely in the area of psychology. For instance, we know much more now about how the brain is operating and now there’s a great deal of learning concerned with understanding some of the techniques about brain imaging and translating that into helping people. But one of the other big differences is knowing how that translates – not just to cognitive tasks like thinking, speaking – but actually to social tasks: how people interact with one another; how their emotions influence what they’re thinking and what they do. So we’re looking to develop research that's really groundbreaking by taking on this idea of social interaction and what the brain is doing in social interaction to actually helping people then out in the real world.