Alumnus seeks breakthrough in brain function

Neuroscientist Peter Zeidman (1996-2003) has returned to scientific research after two successful years in industry.

At the start of this year, Peter took part as one of a panel of young scientists in an updated radio version of the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme for Radio 5Live.

“The show involved each of us proposing one technology which could change the world in the future,” he explained. “I discussed neural interfaces using EEG [Electroencephalography] developed by Tristan Bekinschtein and friends at Cambridge University, which could allow the identification of consciousness in patients incorrectly diagnosed as being in a vegetative state. One future development could be to allow two-way communication with these locked-in patients.”

Peter, who described taking part in the programme as “a great experience” afterwards told presenter Maggie Philbin that he had enjoyed opening “a window into research which could one day change our lives” and that there was real joy in “having something explained in plain English which we might never have been able to comprehend”.

Peter took a first-class degree in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science from the University of Birmingham in 2006, and followed it with an MSc in Natural Computation and a further MSc in Neuroscience from University College, London. He is now studying for a PhD at the Wellcome Trust for Neuro-imaging at UCL. His research uses MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to explore the relationship between memory, imagination and spatial awareness in the human brain. Below is an image of Peter's own brain.""

Peter enjoyed his two years working for Tessella PLC developing computer systems, and is now applying his technical knowledge to scientific research. “At the moment I’m researching how the brain comprehends visual scenes – an ability which enables us to recall memories from our past, imagine fictional scenarios and perceive the world around us.”

He hopes that understanding these abilities in a healthy brain will lead to a better understanding of how the brain functions in illness and disease.

“Above anything else, Queen Elizabeth’s gave me the confidence to do well. Growing up with intelligent and interesting schoolmates also taught me a huge amount.”