Keynote Address 2021

Every year we present a well-known personality from science, society, economy, politics or sports as speaker at the SEPAWA® CONGRESS. Be it current topics or perennial favorites, it will certainly spark your interest.

Prof. Dr. Dr. M. Spitzer

The Brain, Computers and Mental Capacity – What have we Learned in the Last 20 Years?

Thursday, 14 October 2021 from 13:15 – 14:30 hrs at Room 1

As we know from brain research, all mental activity – to perceive, think, feel, plan, want, etc. – leaves traces in the brain. This is because mental activity is due to neuronal activity, i.e. nerve cells passing electrical impulses between one another other via physical connections (synapses). This changes the very connections through which signals pass by making them stronger. In contrast, connections that are not used get weaker. Thus, the processing of information changes the connections in the hardware doing the processing. This is called the memory, i.e., the storage of information. Therefore, there is no such physical separation between the processing and the storing information in the brain.

In contrast, computers consist of a special-purpose chip (or a few of them) that process information – the so-called central processing unit (CPU). In addition to this processing unit, there is a “hard disk” (or another chip) that stores information. Thus, the processing and the storage are two distinct processes that happen within two separate structures. The CPU of the computer does not increase capacity or speed when the computer has downloaded information into memory. In contrast, brains cannot and do not download information, but constantly change by processing information – a process we call “learning”, the result of which is increased mental capacity.

On the basis of this fundamental understanding, we can conclude, (1) that the more the brain processes, the more it stores. (2) The more information the brain has stored, the better it can process information in the same domain. (3) Whenever we “outsource”, i.e. let the computer do the work for us, learning does not take place. (4) As a result, our mental capacity does not increase and may decrease. (5) Outsourcing early in life, when basic implicit and explicit learning takes place in many domains, is a fundamental mistake, as it decreases mental capacity. (6) The more is learned in early life, the easier it is to continue learning throughout the entire life. (7) Mental capacity is the foundation of “Lifelong learning”. It is attained during the educational period of the individual, i.e., from the age of 0 to about 25 years.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Manfred Spitzer (*27.5.1958) studied medicine (MD. in 1983), psychology (MA in 1984), and philosophy (PhD. in 1985) at Freiburg University in Germany.

After his habilitation in psychiatry, he worked as a senior physician at the psychiatric university hospital in Heidelberg. Research posts in the USA (Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard University in 1989/90 and visiting Full Professor 1994 and Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Cognitie and decision sciences at the University of Oregon in Eugene) shaped Spitzer’s scientific work at the interface of neurobiology, psychology, and psychiatry.

Manfred Spitzer has been Medical Director of the Psychiatric University Clinic in Ulm since 1997. In 2004, he founded the Transfer Centre for Neuroscience and Learning (ZNL).

Picture Credits © Markus Kölle

Topics & Personalities

Keynote Address

Every year, SEPAWA® invites a renowned personality from the fields of science, society, business, politics or sports are invited to give a keynote lecture. In recent years, these were:

  • 2020 Prof. Dr. Dirk Notz, climate researcher, held a lecture titled „The Big Melt.“ In his presentation, he shed light on global climate change. He linked his own experiences from his numerous expeditions with the scientific background of global climate change.
  • In 2019 Dr. Richard David Precht, author and publicist, talked about the topic “digital revolution and the future of how we work.”
  • 2018 Antonia Rados, foreign correspondent and journalist, held a lecture with the title: “Turmoil in the Middle East – Consequences for Europe.“
  • In 2017, Dr. Ulf Merbold took the delegates on a space flight with a critical view onto our blue planet Earth. Anyone who has ever had the privilege to see its beauty from space should make it their mission to preserve it.
  • 2016 Dr. Gregor Gysi gave an inspiring lecture on global consumption, its development and reduction and changes.
  • In the previous year, extreme mountaineer Thomas Huber was invited to talk about the „analogy between mountain and profession“.
  • In 2014 Prof. Dr. Gertrud Höhler, publicist and consultant, held a lecture titled „innovation starts with leadership“.
  • Brother Paulus, guardian of the Capuchin Convent „Liebfrauen“ in Frankfurt am Main was invited in 2013. In his lecture titled “Heart Detergent”, he explained how the Ten Commandments liberate the mind and pave the way for success.


Marketing Lecture

Within the framework of a marketing lecture, current issues of general interest were ompetently and realistically dealt with by internationally renowned experts. These can be for instance: motivation, innovation, diversity or the role of the internet in our society. In recent years, we had the privilege to welcome the following personalities:

  • In 2018 Gerriet Danz, expert on innovation and creativity, held a lecture with the title: “Utopia Creates Sales!Success – Beyond 8/15.”
  • Antoinette Anderegg not only illustrated impressively how our body language can be used for communication, but also what we unconsciously reveal about our feelings and intentions.
  • In 2016, blogger and internet expert Sascha Lobo, explored the topic surrounding the web and how it changes sour society. He focused especially on changes for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).
  • In the year prior to that, Business Coach Anne M. Schüller was our guest. In her lecture, the audience learnt step by step about loyality marketing can bring lasting success to a business.
  • In 2014, Prof. Dr. Jutta Rump of the Institute for Occupation and Employability IBE, Ludwigshafen, gave a talk on the following topic: „The younger generation in an ageing society: Generation Y versus Generation Baby Boomer?“.
  • Dr. Michael Bartl, Hyve AG in Munich, talked in 2013 about the change in innovation models in a digital age.