Breaking down the ivory tower: Onur Güntürkün

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With this webinar series, the ALBA Disability & Accessibility Working Group aims to bring down the ivory tower of ableism among the brain research community, one extraordinary neuroscientist at a time. These webinars give a platform to scientists with disabilities across the globe and neuroscience disciplines, while reflecting on how to promote inclusive working environments and accessibility to research.

For this first episode, Prof. Onur Güntürkün (Ruhr-Universität Bochum, DE) will talk about his research and experience. 

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Voyages through brain and behaviour by Onur Güntürkün

I aim to discover the link between structure and physiology of the brain on one side and the emerging mental phenomena on the other side. In my talk, I will merge scientific inquiries with biographical issues. In short, I plan to talk about why birds are so smart although they have so small and seemingly primitively structured brains. Then, I will switch sides and converse about the fundamentals of human intelligence followed by mirror self-recognition in dolphins. Finally I will present the results of my experiments in small villages in the mountainous regions of Northeast Turkey where people use complex whistles to communicate. This unique culture thus presents a window into the asymmetrical design of the human neural language system.

Prof. Onur Güntürkün

I’m a Turkish-born Professor of Biopsychology at the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany and I’m kept awake with questions like: “Can different kinds of brains produce the same cognition?” or “Why are brains asymmetrically organised?”. I have spent many years in different universities and science institutions across five continents and have worked with pigeons, humans, dolphins, crocodiles and magpies as experimental subjects. I would call myself a Cognitive and Comparative Neuroscientist who works with research approaches that reach from field work via single cell recordings, behavioral experiments and tract tracing up to brain imaging at ultrahigh magnetic fields.

I am an elected member of several scientific academies, among them the German National Academy of Sciences, and I have received numerous national and international scientific awards, among them the highest German (Leibniz) and Turkish science award (TÜBITAK special award) as well as the ERC Advanced Grant.

Prof. Onur Güntürkün


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University of Coimbra

Disability & Accessibility Working Group

Catarina Miranda⎥Noèlia Fernàndez-Castillo⎥Donna Rose Addis⎥Inês Barros⎥Isabel Castanho⎥Tom Jensen⎥Echo Leaver⎥Rhiannon McNeill