Lecture Series in 2016-2017

Unless otherwise noted all lectures will be in Psychology 1312 on Thursdays at 4:00 p.m.


Oct 20, 2016
Information Storage in Memory Engrams

Tomás Ryan is an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (starting December 2016) and a Senior Research Fellow in the group of Susumu Tonegawa (Nobel Laureate 1987) at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Ryan received his Ph.D. in molecular neuroscience under Seth Grant at the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in 2009, funded by a Wellcome Trust PhD Fellowship. His doctoral research involved an integrative investigation of NMDA receptor function using novel mutant mouse models informed by molecular evolutionarily analyses. Following a year as Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge, he relocated to MIT to research the behavioural neuroscience of memory storage and retrieval. His research at MIT has contributed to the development of engram technology and has challenged conventional neurobiological models of how long-term memories are stored in the brain. This fall he will give a TEDMED 2016 talk in Palm Springs.

Nov 17, 2016
Changing Fear

Elizabeth (Liz) Phelps received her PhD from Princeton University in 1989, served on the faculty of Yale University until 1999, and is currently the Julius Silver Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University. Her laboratory has earned widespread acclaim for its groundbreaking research on how the human brain processes emotion, particularly as it relates to learning, memory and decision making. Dr. Phelps is the recipient of the 21st Century Scientist Award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Association for Psychological Science and the Society for Neuroethics, was the President of the Society for Neuroeconomics and the Association for Psychological Science and has served as the editor of the journal Emotion.

Dec 01, 2016
On Awe and the Evolution of the Sublime

Dacher Keltner is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the founding director of the university’s Greater Good Science Center. Keltner has devoted his career to studying the nature of human goodness and happiness, conducting ground-breaking research on compassion, awe, laughter, and love. He is the author of the best-selling book Born to Be Good (W.W. Norton, 2009) and a co-editor of the anthology The Compassionate Instinct (W.W. Norton, 2010), in addition to more than 100 scientific papers and two best-selling textbooks. An outstanding speaker who has earned many research and teaching awards, Keltner has received rave reviews for his “Human Happiness” course at UC Berkeley. His work is featured regularly in major media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, and NPR, and he was a consultant on the Disney Pixar film "Inside/Out." In 2008, the Utne Reader named him as one of 50 visionaries who are changing our world.

Jan 30, 2017
Neurons as Will and Representation: Direct Recordings from the Human Brain

Itzhak Fried is Professor of Neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Born and raised in Israel, Dr. Fried earned a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at UCLA in 1981, and received an M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1985. He completed his neurosurgery residency at Yale University School of Medicine, and he joined the UCLA faculty in 1992. Dr. Fried was named a full professor in 2003 and, since 2000, has also served on the faculty of the Sackler School of Medicine of Tel Aviv University.  He has pioneered methods for studying the cellular basis of human visual perception and memory. His research program uses depth electrodes, which are implanted in the brains of patients for clinical diagnostic purposes, as a means to investigate the behavior of individual neurons. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his contributions to cognitive neurophysiology. A fellow also of the American College of Surgeons, he has been a Merritt-Putnam International Visiting Professor at the Beijing Neurological Institute and lectured extensively in Europe, Israel, India, Japan, Australia, and the United States. Dr. Fried is the author of some one hundred papers published in scientific journals and a dozen chapters in volumes of collected works.

Mar 02, 2017
Nature's Gift: How the Discovery of Structural Principles in a Microbial Protein Helped Illuminate the Pathophysiology of Psychiatry

Karl Deisseroth is the D. H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He earned his M.D./Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University in 1998, and completed his medical internship and psychiatry residency at Stanford Medical School. He is known for creating and developing the technologies of CLARITY and optogenetics, and for applying integrated optical and genetic strategies to study normal neural circuit function as well as dysfunction in neurological and psychiatric disease. He has led his laboratory at Stanford University since 2004, serves as an attending physician at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, and has been affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) since 2009. Since 2014 he is a foreign Adjunct Professor at Sweden's prestigious Karolinska medical institute. In 2015, Dr. Deisseroth was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. The same year he received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine, jointly with Edward Boydenand Gero Miesenböck, for the development of optogenetics, the most precise technique for studying the brain today.

Apr 20, 2017
The Neural Circuitry of Sex and Violence

David Anderson is Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Director of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology. After receiving his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University, Dr. Anderson joined the faculty at CalTech in 1986. For the first 20+ years of his career, Anderson’s research focused on the biology of neural crest stem cells. Beginning in the early part of the last decade, Anderson gradually switched his research focus from neural development to the study of neural circuits underlying innate behaviors that are associated with emotional states, including defensive behaviors and inter-male aggression.  His work employs both mice and the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster as model organisms, and incorporates optogenetics, pharmacogenetics, electrophysiology, in vivo imaging and (in collaboration with Prof. Pietro Perona in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences), quantitative behavior analysis using machine vision-based approaches.  Dr. Anderson played a key advisory role in the initial foundation of the Allan Institute for Brain Sciences and the Allen Brain Atlas, and now serves on their Scientific Advisory Board, as well as on the Advisory Council for Project MindScope and the Connectional Atlas.  He has also been a Visiting Scientist at HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus.  Dr. Anderson received the Alden Spencer Award in Neurobiology from Columbia University in 1999, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2007. 

May 18, 2017
How Does the Brain Construct Complex Thoughts?

Joshua Greene is Professor of Psychology, a member of the Center for Brain Science faculty, and the director of the Moral Cognition Lab at Harvard University. Dr. Greene studied philosophy at Harvard (A.B., 1997) and Princeton (Ph.D., 2002). From 2002 to 2006 he trained as a postdoctoral researcher with Jonathan Cohen in the Neuroscience of Cognitive Control Lab and at the Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and Behavior, which is now the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. His research focuses on the psychology and neuroscience of moral judgment and decision-making. His broader interests cluster around the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. In 2012, Dr. Greene was awarded the Stanton Prize by the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and in 2013 he received Harvard’s Roslyn Abramson Award for teaching. He has been voted a “Favorite Professor” by several of Harvard College’s graduating classes. Dr. Greene is the author of Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them (2014).

May 25, 2017
Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking

Cecilia Heyes is Senior Research Fellow in Theoretical Life Sciences and Professor of Psychology at All Souls College, University of Oxford. Dr. Heyes was trained as an experimental psychologist at University College London (UCL). As a Harkness Fellow in the United States, she studied evolutionary epistemology with Donald T. Campbell and philosophy of mind with Daniel Dennett. She spent a second postdoctoral period studying associative learning as a Research Fellow of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, and then returned to UCL as a member of faculty in 1988. In 2008 Dr. Heyes left UCL to become a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford. Now her work examines the evolution of human cognition. It explores the ways in which natural selection, learning, developmental and cultural processes combine to produce the mature cognitive abilities found in adult humans. Most of her current projects suggest that the neurocognitive mechanisms enabling cultural inheritance - social learning, imitation, mirror neurons, mind reading etc - are themselves the products of cultural evolution. Dr. Heyes has received numerous honors and awards, including Member of Scientific Council, Institute for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences in Toulouse and Fellow of the British Academy (Psychology and Philosophy sections).

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