back to seminar listings

Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences (ICBS)

UC, Berkeley Fall 2003 Colloquium Series:

Sept 5 Judy Illes
Stanford University, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Department of Radiology
"Emerging Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Functional Neuroimaging"
Sept 19 Romi Nijhawan
University of Sussex, Department of Psychology
"Compensation for Neural Delays in the Sensory and Motor Pathways"
Oct 10 Brandan Fitelson
UC Berkeley, Department of Philosophy
"Rethinking the Role of 'Base Rates' in Probabilistic Reasoning"
Oct 24 Michael Tomasello
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
"The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition"
Oct 31 Anjan Chatterjee
University of Pennsylvania, Department of Neurology and
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
"Where the Action Is. Neural and Functional Considerations"
Nov 14 Laura Wagner
Wellesley College, Department of Psychology
"Deciding What Counts: Children's Individuation of Objects and Events"
Dec 5 Alva Noe
UC Berkeley, Department of Philosophy
"Neural Plasticity and Consciousness: An Enactive Approach"


Name: Branden Fitelson (note the unusual spelling of my first name)
Affiliation: Assistant Professor of Philosophy @ UC-Berkeley
Title: "Rethinking the Role of 'Base Rates' in Probabilistic Reasoning"
Abstract: There has been much controversy over the past 30+ years in both the psychological and philosophical literature over the role of "base rates" in probabilistic reasoning. I will discuss this controversy from several perspectives, both normative and descriptive. I will focus on the presentation and discussion of Gigerenzer et al. who claim to have an "ecological" explanation (and justification?) of various "base rates" phenomena. Other authors in the philosophical literature will also be discussed. In the end, I will propose some alternative ways of reconstructing "base rate" behavior in terms of recent accounts (both psychological and philosophical) of evidential support and causal strength.

Name: Michael Tomasello
Affiliation: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Title: The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition
Abstract: Human beings are biologically adapted for culture in ways that other primates are not, as evidenced most clearly by the fact that only human cultural traditions accumulate modifications over historical time (the rachet effect). The key adaptation involves individuals coming to understand other individuals as intentional agents like the self. This evolutionarily novel form of social understanding emerges in human ontogeny at around one year of age as infants begin to engage with other persons in various kinds of joint attentional activities. Young children's joint attentional skills then enable them to engage in some uniquely powerful forms of cultural learning, including the acquisition of language and many other conventional skills, and to comprehend their worlds in some uniquely powerful ways involving perspectivally based symbolic representations.

Name: Alva Noe
Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, UC Berkeley
Title: Neural plasticity and consciousness: an enactive approach
Abstract: We can best understand how the brain gives rise to perceptual consciousness by looking at the way neural activity is embedded in a broader dynamic, sensorimotor context. Drawing on work with Kevin O'Regan and Susan Hurley, and focusing on puzzling phenomena of neural plastity, I introduce a new model for thinking about the neural basis of experience.

Name: Judy Illes
Affiliation: Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and Department of Radiology
Title: Emerging Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Functional Neuroimaging
Abstract: Advances in neuroimaging have attracted significant attention in the new field of neuroethics. Functional MRI studies of moral reasoning and race judgments, for example, have raised concerns about the potential misuse of resulting information and even questions about whether such investigations constitute the pursuit of forbidden knowledge. Like genetic testing in the 1990s, the impending translation of advanced neuroimaging capabilities from the laboratory to the clinical setting has raised ethical questions about how new diagnostic and predictive information will be handled in the absence of effective treatments or cures for certain diseases, how technology will be introduced equitably when inequities of access in the health care system prevail, and what the impact on society will be with increasing opportunities for self-referral for neuroimaging services and interventions such as cognitive enhancement. Potential off-label uses of advanced neuroimaging outside the health care setting - in law, education, employment and even for national security - are already being tested and debated. We will discuss how these issues converge in 21st century neuroethics, the shifting roles of cognitive neuroscientists, scholars in the humanities, educators, the media and other stakeholders, and prospects for the future.