When: Saturday, April 30, 2011
Have you ever wondered how the human brain is able to adapt itself so skillfully to the changing world around it? How nervous systems are able to repair themselves in the face of extensive damage? And what about the philosophical ramifications of all this: what does a changing brain say about what it means to be a human?
These questions are fascinating to me, so I was thrilled to discover that UC Berkeley’s upcoming California Cognitive Science Conference focuses on these issues (and much more). Titled Metamorphoses of the Mind, the conference boasts an impressive list of speakers ranging from computer scientists to neurophilosophers, each with a unique approach to take on the human mind. Here is the scoop on the keynote speakers:
Dr. Churchland is one of the pioneers of neurophilosophy, a field that bridges our understanding of the brain with our intuitive theories of the mind, and she is at the forefront of the school of thought called eliminative materialism. She has written a number of influential books on neurophilosophy, redefining our approach to studying human consciousness. For anyone interested in the interface between “brain” and “mind”, she will not disappoint.
Dr. Merzenich studies one of the most powerful abilities of the human brain – the ability to recognize patterns in a noisy and unpredictable world. Apart from his groundbreaking scientific research, he’s also transitioned his work into a number of inventions and companies. He was one of the researchers behind the cochlear implant, an electronic device that connects directly with auditory nerves in the brain, allowing those with hearing impairment to experience sound.
In addition to these keynotes, there will be a number of “Lightning Talks” on some of the cutting-edge research going on in California, as well as some interesting hands-on breakout sessions (here is a full list of speakers). The conference promises to be a great way for people of all disciplines and backgrounds to learn about the amazing world of cognitive science. Click here for registration, and for those of you who want to present at the conference, there’s still time to submit a paper. I look forward to seeing you all there!