Educating the Brain: How the Acquisition of Reading and Mathematics Affects Human Brain Circuits
December 4, 2017
Stanislas Dehaene, Professor and Chair of Experimental Cognitive Psychology, Collège de France
Thomas A. DiPrete, Giddings Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
Kimberly Noble, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
Daphna Shohamy, Associate Professor of Psychology, Columbia University
Aniruddha Das, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Columbia University
Speaker and respondents discuss the implications of his work and how our growing understanding of the neuroscience of reading and mathematics may have important consequences for education and other fields.
Dedre Gentner, Alice Gabrielle Twight Professor of Psychology and Co-Director, Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, Northwestern University
Stephen J. Flusberg, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Purchase College, SUNY
Alexander Rapp, Faculty Member in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tuebingen
Stephen Casper, Associate Professor of History, Clarkson University
This event explores the conceptual force of metaphors in neuroscience. How do metaphors shape how we think and communicate? How are they represented in the brain? To answer these questions, this event engages with the everyday persistence of these rhetorical tools by examining scientific studies of metaphor use and metaphors in scientific discourse. Featuring perspectives from neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, and philosophy, our speakers probe the distinction between metaphors and models that emerge from thinking and reasoning. These models are further taken up in different social and political circumstances and are used to describe a range of phenomenon from mental health to climate change that articulate and obscure our efforts to make sense of the world.
David Huron, Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor, School of Music & Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Ohio State University
Aniruddh D. Patel, Professor of Psychology, Tufts University
Elizabeth Tolbert, Professor of Musicology, Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University
The extraordinary power of music to communicate complex emotions and thoughts has fascinated scholars for centuries. Music taps into cognitive mechanisms that govern our daily interactions with the world, such as expectations and violations of these expectations, and appears to have much in common with language. In addition, music plays social and ethical functions that can be understood from philosophical, historical, and cultural perspectives. Three renowned scholars from the humanities and cognitive science demonstrate show how these modes of inquiry bear on each other – and explain what makes music mean.
Tim Griffiths, Professor of Cognitive Neurology, Newcastle University, UK
Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, Professor and Director of the Music Cognition Lab, University of Arkansas
Ana Maria Ochoa, Professor of Music, Columbia University
Nori Jacoby, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University
Listening to sounds is fundamental to how we experience our environment and ourselves. In recent years, both the humanities and sciences have become increasingly invested in the interrelation between the environment and the listening experience. This seminar features leading scholars from auditory neuroscience, sound studies, and music cognition discussing scientific and humanistic perspectives on the role of acoustic conditions and cultural exposure on the formation of the sense of hearing itself.
Barry C. Smith, Director of the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London
Clare Batty, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Kentucky
Donald Wilson, Professor at the Departments of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Physiology, NYU School of Medicine
Avery Gilbert, Smell Scientist, Entrepreneur, and Author
Christophe Laudamiel, Master Perfumer, Scent Composer, Lecturer, Writer, and Chemist Champion
Ann-Sophie Barwich, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University
How does our brain make sense of scents and flavors? To explore the human sense of smell in its perceptual, neural, and cultural dimensions, the panel brings together cross-disciplinary perspectives from neuroscience, philosophy, and perfumery
Narendra S. Bhatt, Honorary Research Director and Adjunct Professor, BVDU College of Ayurveda, Pune, India
Ellen A. Lumpkin, Associate Professor of Somatosensory Biology in Dermatology and Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University
Peter Wayne, Associate Professor of Medicine and Research Director for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Lan A. Li, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University
David Barack, PhD, 2015 Presidential Scholar
Respondents: Christopher Peacocke (Philosophy), Daniel Salzman (Neuroscience), Michael Woodford (Economics)
Ann-Sophie Barwich, PhD, 2015 Presidential Scholar
Respondents: Stuart Firestein (Biological Sciences), Christopher Peacocke (Philosophy)
Andrew Goldman, PhD, 2015 Presidential Scholar
Respondents: Daphna Shohamy (Psychology), Paul Sajda (Biomedical Engineering)
Pamela Smith; Seth Low Professor of History, Director of the Center for Science and Society
This event included presentations from several of our Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience and their mentors, who discussed their current cross-disciplinary research and findings. The Research Symposium provided a platform for the Presidential Scholars to demonstrate what interdisciplinary research looks like in practice.
Nicola Clayton, PhD, Professor of Comparative Cognition, Cambridge University
Alex Martin, PhD, Chief, Section on Cognitive Neuropsychology, Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, National Institute of Mental Health
Ian Tattersall, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Human Origins, Division of Anthropology and Professor Emeritus, Richard Gilder Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History
David Barack, PhD, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University
Once thought the province of only the most intelligent primates — namely humans — a wide variety of species, including octopuses, birds, and bees are now known to make and use tools for their own goals. Not only do many species besides humans craft and use tools, some have been shown to pass on their knowledge as material culture, shared with other members of the species and younger generations. In this seminar, the speakers will discuss preliminary insights into the neural mechanisms underlying the complex and often social activity that is tool use, as well as the manifestation and transmission of this knowledge. What is the importance of tools as a category of items that we can manipulate in the environment, and how have our brains evolved to process this type of information? Why have so many animals from across the evolutionary tree evolved the ability to use tools, as well as the cognitive capacity to learn from others?
Alexandra Horowitz, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, Barnard College; author of Inside of a Dog
Jonathan Losos, PhD, Monique and Philip Lehner Professor for the Study of Latin America, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Curator in Herpetology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
Harriet Ritvo, PhD, Arthur J. Conner Professor of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Animals play a central role in human imagination. We study them, worship them, and domesticate them. We use animals to tell some of our most popular stories. But what do our characterizations of animals tell us about us? In other words, to what extent can cultural and scientific practices of characterizing animals reveal aspects of human (and animal) cognition? How do attributions of “human” characteristics to “other” animals simultaneously blur and fortify distinctions among these classifications? Our panelists approach these questions from perspectives in history, literature, evolutionary biology, and neuroscience. Harriet Ritvo will consider the boundaries between humans and animals in fiction and fantasy, Jonathan Losos will explore cultural fascinations with domesticity through the science of cats, and Alexandra Horowitz will discuss the physical and psychological curiosities of anthropomorphism in dogs.
Joshua Knobe, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology and Linguistics, Yale University
Laurie Santos, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Yale University
Rebecca Saxe, PhD, Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Patricia Kitcher, PhD, Roberta and William Campbell Professor of the Humanities, Columbia University
Theory of mind is the ability to make inferences about the mental and emotional states of others. Understanding that one’s thoughts, knowledge, desires, motives, and feelings can be different than those of someone else is a skill that takes young children many years to develop, and it requires the interrelated activity of a network of regions within the brain. How does theory of mind affect the way in which people interact with each other and make social, emotional, and even moral decisions? Is theory of mind unique to humans, or can other animals comprehend the intentions of their own and other species?