Speaker: Marcus Raichle, M.D., Washington University in St Louis
Chair: Nina Dronkers, VA Northern California Health Care System and University of California, Davis

Friday, October 16, 4:30 – 5:30 pm, Grand Ballroom


Marcus E. Raichle, M.D. is a neurologist and Professor in the Departments of Radiology, Neurology, Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St Louis.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, The Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He and his colleagues have been leaders in defining the frontiers of cognitive neuroscience through the development and use of functional brain imaging techniques. From their seminal work in the design, execution and interpretation of functional brain imaging with positron emission tomography (PET), to the idea that tissue oxygen could vary with brain activity (leading to fMRI), and lately, to the discovery of a unique fronto-parietal network in the brain that has come to be known as the default mode network, Prof. Raichle’s work has made it possible to view the living brain as it functions, and also, as it succumbs to disease. Prof. Raichle is the recipient of numerous honors including the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research, the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology, the Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, the Neuroscience Kavli Prize, and the Glass Brain Award from the Organization for Human Brain Mapping for lifetime achievement.

The restless brain: how intrinsic activity organizes brain function

Traditionally studies of brain function have focused on task-evoked responses. By their very nature such experiments tacitly encourage a reflexive view of brain function. While such an approach has been remarkably productive at all levels of neuroscience it ignores the alternative possibility that brain functions are mainly intrinsic and ongoing, involving information processing for interpreting, responding to and predicting environmental demands. I suggest that the latter view best captures the essence of brain function, a position that accords well with the allocation of the brain’s energy resources, its limited access to sensory information and a dynamic, intrinsic functional organization. The nature of this intrinsic activity, which exhibits a surprising level of organization with dimensions of both space and time, is revealed in the ongoing activity of the brain and its metabolism.