Distinguished Fellows for 2013-2014

Oct 07, 10, 2013Stephen Scott

Stephen Scott is professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He is also a member of the Centre for Neuroscience Studies and the CIHR Group in Sensory-Motor Systems. He received a Ph.D. under the supervision of  Dr. Gerry Loeb at Queen’s University in the Department of Physiology and undertook his postdoctoral training at the Université de Montréal in the Department of Physiology with Dr. John Kalaska. His first faculty position was as a chercheur adjoint in the Department of Physiology at Université de Montréal in 1995. He returned to Queen's University as a faculty member in 1997. Scott’s research focuses on how different regions of the brain are involved in motor control and learning. He has developed a robotic device called KINARM that can both sense and perturb planar arm movements.  His research examines neural activity in different brain regions of non-human primates during motor behavior, human motor performance and learning and sensorimotor impairments in stroke and other neurological disorders.

The following lectures will be held at 3:00 PM in Bren Hall 4L, Room 4016:

October 7     Optimal Feedback Control as a Model of Voluntary Control: Sophisticated Corrective Responses in Humans

October 10     Optimal Feedback Control as a Model of Voluntary Control: Implications for the Neural Basis of Control


Oct 14, 21, 2013Todd Preuss

Todd Preuss is Associate Research Professor in the Division of Neuropharmacology and Neurologic Diseases, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University. He earned his doctorate in biological anthropology from Yale University and completed his postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Preuss investigates the evolutionary specializations of the human brain; identifying these specializations is critical for understanding how the human brain supports our unique cognitive abilities and why humans are particularly vulnerable to neurodegenerative disease. The Preuss lab addresses questions by comparing human brains to those of chimpanzees — the animals to which humans are most closely related — and to other nonhuman primates. Within this basic comparative framework, the Preuss lab employs multiple investigative methodologies to identify human specializations at multiple levels of organization: genomic and molecular biological techniques to identify evolutionary changes in gene and protein expression, histological techniques to localize expression changes to specify cell types and cell compartments, and neuroimaging techniques to identify evolutionary changes in connectivity and cerebral morphology.

The following lectures will be held at 3:00 PM in Bren Hall 4L, Room 4016:

October 14     Humans and Other Animals: A Modern Darwinian Understanding of "Man's Place in Nature"

October 21     Animal Models of Human Nature: Repairing the Paradigm


Nov 04, 12, 18, 2013Daniel Dennett

Daniel Dennett is University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. Dr. Dennett’s research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He received his DPhil at Oxford under the supervision of Gilbert Ryle, and he began teaching at UC Irvine in 1965. In 1971 he moved to Tufts, where he has taught ever since, aside from periods visiting at Harvard, Pittsburgh, Oxford, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the London School of Economics and the American University of Beirut. Dr. Dennett is the author of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (Viking, 2006), Freedom Evolves (Viking Penguin, 2003), Darwin's Dangerous Idea (Simon &Schuster, 1995), and many other books and scholarly publications. His most recent book is Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (W.W. Norton, 2013).

The following lectures will be held at 3:00 PM in Bren Hall 4L, Room 4016:

November 4             From Competence to Comprehension: The Origin of Minds

November 12             Minds as Virtual Machines Running on Brains

November 18             Cultural Evolution: From Darwinian Processes to Intelligent Design


Jan 29, 30, 2014Steven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time, and The New Republic, and is the author of seven books, including The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language (1999), The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (2002), The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (2007),  The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011), and most recently, Language, Cognition and Human Nature: Selected Articles (2013).

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein is Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the New College of the Humanities in London, UK. She received her PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University and has taught philosophy at Barnard College, Rutgers, and Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, including courses on philosophy of science, the seventeenth-century rationalists, and philosophical themes in the modern novel. She has also taught writing in the Master of Fine Arts program at Columbia University. Her recent books include the award-winning Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew who Gave Us Modernity (2006) and Thirty-Six Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction (2010). Professor Goldstein was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1996, and she was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. She has held numerous fellowships, including those from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the Santa Fe Institute. She was recently designated both Humanist of the Year by The American Humanist Association and Free-thought Heroine by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The following special lectures will be held at 4:00 PM in Mosher Alumni House, Alumni Hall, 2nd floor:

January 29     Steven Pinker: The Sense of Style: A Writing Guide for the 21st Century

January 30     Rebecca Newberger Goldstein: Plato in the Magnet: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away (note new title)


Mar 03, 10, 2014Svante Pääbo

Svante Pääbo is the founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and Director of the Department of Genetics. An expert in evolutionary genetics, Dr. Pääbo aims to gain a better understanding of the origin, time and early migrations of humans and their closest relatives by comparative DNA sequencing in humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. He also uses methods for the retrieval of DNA sequences from archaeological and paleontological  remains to elucidate the history of humans and Pleistocene mammals. Dr. Pääbo has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, and The Economist, as well as on NPR, PBS, and BBC. In 2007 Time named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. His most recent book is Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes (2014, Basic Books).

The following lectures will be held at 3:00 PM in Bren Hall 4L, Room 4016:

March 3            Of Neanderthals, Denisovans and Others

March 10          An Archaic Perspective on Human Origins


Apr 07, 14, 21, 2014Gerd Gigerenzer

Gerd Gigerenzer is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy in Berlin. He is former Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago and John M. Olin Distinguished Visiting Professor, School of Law, at the University of Virginia. His research interests include bounded rationality and social intelligence, decisions under uncertainty and time restrictions, competence in risk and risk communication, and decision-making strategies of managers, judges, and physicians. His award-winning popular books Calculated Risks: How to Know When Numbers Deceive You (2002), and Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious (2007) were translated into 18 languages. His academic books include Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart (1999), Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox (2001, with Reinhard Selten, a Nobel Laureate in economics) and Rationality for Mortals: How People Cope with Uncertainty (2008). In Better Doctors, Better Doctors, Better Decisions (2011, with Sir Muir Gray), he shows how better informed doctors and patients can improve healthcare while reducing the costs. Gigerenzer has trained U.S. federal judges, German physicians, and top managers in decision making and understanding risks and uncertainties.

The following lectures will be held at 3:00 PM in Bren Hall 4L, Room 4016:

April 7     Homo Heuristicus: Rationality for Mortals

April 14   Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better Health Care

April 21   Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions


May 05, 12, 19, 27, 2014The Trojan Brain

During the month of May, the SAGE Center presents a special series of Distinguished Fellows from the University of Southern California neuroscience community.

  • Larry Swanson is the Milo Don and Lucille Appleman Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Neurobiology Section. Throughout his career, Professor Swanson has been interested in clarifying the organization of brain systems that mediate the expression of motivated and emotional behaviors.
  • Art Toga is Director of the Institute of Neuroimaging and Informatics, Director of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and Provost Professor, Departments of Ophthalmology, Neurology, Psychiatry, and the Behavioral Sciences, Radiology and Engineering. Professor Toga is interested in the development of new algorithms and the computer science aspects important to neuroimaging.
  • Antonio Damasio is University Professor, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, and Director of the Brain and Creativity Institute. Professor Damasio studies the neurobiology of mind and behavior, with an emphasis on emotion, decision-making, memory, communication, and creativity.
  • Paul Thompson is Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry, Radiology, Engineering and Ophthalmology, Associate Director of the Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics and Director of the USC Imaging Genetics Center. Professor Thompson is involved in developing advanced mathematical models and software engineering tools for scientific computing, numerical analysis and 3D graphics.

May 5     Larry Swanson: The Logic of Cerebral Cortical Association Connections

May 12   Art Toga: Mapping the Brain of Mice and Man in Health and Disease

May 19   Antonio Damasio

May 27   Paul Thompson: The ENIGMA Project: Investigating Brain Diseases with Imaging and Genetics in 26,000 People


Jun 02, 09, 2014Sabine Kastner and Michael Graziano

Sabine Kastner is Professor of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University. Dr. Kastner, Principal Investigator of the Neuroscience of Attention & Perception Laboratory, studies the neural basis of visual perception, attention, and awareness using a translational approach that combines neuroimaging in humans and monkeys, monkey physiology and studies in patients with brain lesions. A major long-term goal is to provide a neural basis for human visual attention in the framework of biased competition theory. She holds an M.D. from University of Dusseldorf and a Ph.D. from the University of Gottingen.

Michael Graziano is Professor of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University. Dr. Graziano’s recent research has studied the brain basis of consciousness. This research has focused on the relationship between awareness, attention, and social perception in the human brain. He has proposed an overarching theory, the "Attention Schema" theory, to account for at least some of the many properties of consciousness, the details of which can be found in his book Consciousness and the Social Brain (2013, Oxford University Press). His previous research studied peripersonal space and a mapping in the motor cortex of coordinated, behaviorally useful actions that make up a typical movement repertoire. He also writes a blog for the Huffington Post and has authored several literary novels under his own name and children’s novels under the pseudonym B. B. Wurge.

The following lectures will be held at 3:00 PM in Bren Hall 4L, Room 4016:

June 2     Sabine Kastner: Network Dynamics for Attentional Selection in the Primate Brain

June 9     Michael Graziano: Consciousness and the Social Brain

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