Fall 2016-Spring 2017  Fall 2015-Spring 2016
Sound Studies and Auditory Neuroscience: New Perspectives on Listening
The Human Sense of Smell

Neuroscience in the Body: Perspectives at the Periphery
Presidential Scholars Research Symposium
The Transmission of Knowledge: Tool Use and Cognition
Characterizing Animals in Science and Fiction
Theory of Mind
Neuroscience and Education
Prediction: How Forecasting and Prospection Shape Thought
Imag(in)ing Sex in the Brain
The Perception of Time
Difficult Decisions: The Complexities of Choice in the Real World
What Can Neuroscience Offer the Study of Creativity
Understanding Cognition through Development: What Do Animals, Children, and Science Have in Common? 

Sound Studies and Auditory Neuroscience: New Perspectives on Listening
May 1, 2017

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

Moderator: 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.

The Human Sense of Smell

April 13, 2017

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

Moderator: 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

Neuroscience in the Body: Perspectives at the Periphery
March 6, 2017

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

Moderator: Lan A. Li, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University

Presidential Scholars Research Symposium
February 13, 2017

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)

Moderator: 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.

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The Transmission of Knowledge: Tool Use and Cognition
December 12, 2016

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

Moderator: 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?


Characterizing Animals in Science and Fiction 
November 28, 2016

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

Moderators: Matteo Farinella, PhD, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University and Lan A. Li, PhD, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University

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.


Theory of Mind
October 20, 2016

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

Moderator: 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?

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