PAST SEMINARS IN SOCIETY AND NEUROSCIENCE

Fall 2017-Spring 2018 Fall 2016-Spring 2017  Fall 2015-Spring 2016
Educating the Brain: How the Acquisition of Reading and Mathematics Affects Human Brain Circuits
Metaphors and Models: The Neuroscience of Comparison
Music and Meaning
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? 

 


Educating the Brain: How the Acquisition of Reading and Mathematics Affects Human Brain Circuits
December 4, 2017

Speaker:
Stanislas Dehaene, Professor and Chair of Experimental Cognitive Psychology, Collège de France

Respondents:
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

Moderator:
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.


Metaphors and Models: The Neuroscience of Comparison
November 20, 2017

Speakers:
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

Respondent:
Stephen Casper, Associate Professor of History, Clarkson University

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


Music and MeaningMusic and Meaning
October 19, 2017

Speakers:
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

Moderators:
Andrew Goldman, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University
Jacqueline Gottlieb, Professor of Neuroscience, Columbia 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.


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

Speakers:
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

Speakers:
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

Speakers:
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

Speakers:
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

Speakers:
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?


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Characterizing Animals in Science and Fiction 
November 28, 2016

Speakers:
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
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.


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Theory of Mind
October 20, 2016

Speakers:
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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