The idea of the brain

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Thursday 12 March

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London
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Tickets are now available

  • Credit: Matthew Cobb


Standard £16


Concession £10


Ri Members and Ri Patrons £7

Event description

Please note that this event was previously advertised as 'Thinking Matter: Our Quest to Understand the Brain'

We’re constantly striving to make sense of the link between our brains and behaviour. 

This talk explores how our views of the mind have changed over the centuries and what astonishing discoveries are still to come.

Biologist Matthew Cobb discusses how the directions and discoveries of the science reflect and affect contemporary culture and society, from Galvani's influence on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, to the way cybernetics informs the theory and practice of music.

About the speaker

Matthew Cobb is professor of zoology at the University of Manchester, where his research focuses on the sense of smell, insect behaviour and the history of science. 

He did a BA in Psychology at the University of Sheffield, and went on to do his PhD there, in Psychology and Genetics, looking at the mating behaviour of seven species of fruitfly. He was lucky enough to be in one of the few places in the UK that studied Drosophila behaviour genetics. 


The doors will open at approximately 6.30pm, with a prompt start at 7.00pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Latecomers will be admitted into the gallery.

Book signing

Copies of Matthew's book, 'Thinking matter: our quest to understand the brain', will be available for purchase and signing after the talk. 


This event will be filmed and on the Ri's YouTube channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

Carers can receive a free ticket to an event by emailing

Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop. 

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