Kavli Royal Society Centre, Chicheley Hall, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, MK16 9JJ
Organised by Professor Colin Blakemore FRS
Please find below audio files recorded at this Theo Murphy international scientific meeting, in addition to biographies for both the speakers and organisers.
Select an organiser for more information
Professor Colin Blakemore FRS
Professor Pasko Rakic, Kavli Institute of Neuroscience and Yale University, USA
Pasko Rakic is the Duberg Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurobiology and Director of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale. His research interests are in cellular and molecular mechanisms of development and evolution of the mammalian brain, particularly the cerebral cortex. He and his colleagues have identified and/or characterized several genes and morphoregulatory molecules involved in regulation of the proliferation, migration, differentiation and death of neurons. They have used the most advanced methods available, to study cell surface molecules and ion channels involved in regulation of the rate of neuronal migration and the stop signal at their final position. His 4-dimensional model laid out the sequence of complex developmental events that take place from the final divisions of neuronal stem cells through their migration and stratified settlement in cortical columns. His studies lead to the postulate of the “radial unit” and “protomap” hypotheses of cortical development and evolution that provide the framework for understanding of normal and pathological development of the human brain and the pathogenesis of congenital disorders of higher brain functions.Rakic recognitions include the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience, Gerard Prize, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lashley, Pasarow and Fyssen awards. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine (USA), Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Serbian and Croatian Academy of Sciences and has also been President of the Society for Neuroscience.
Professor Nicola Clayton FRS, Professor of Comparative Cognition, University of Cambridge, UK
Professor Nicola Clayton
Nicola Clayton is Professor of Comparative Cognition in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Clare College. She received her undergraduate degree in Zoology at the University of Oxford and her doctorate in animal behaviour at St. Andrews University. In 1995 she moved to the University of California Davis where she gained her first Chair in Animal Behaviour in 2000. She moved back to Cambridge and in 2005 she was appointed to a personal Chair, and became a fellow of the Royal Society in 2010. She has 192 publications.
Her expertise lies in the contemporary study of comparative cognition, integrating a knowledge of both biology and psychology to introduce new ways of thinking about key issues in the evolution and development of cognition in animals and young children. This work has led to a re-evaluation of the cognitive capacities of animals, particularly birds, and resulted in a theory that intelligence evolved independently in at least two disparate groups, the apes and the corvids (a family of birds that includes jays, magpies, ravens and crows), and current research examines how corvids can perform similar cognitive operations to the apes given they have a much smaller brain than the apes, and with a strikingly different neuroarchitecture. Clayton has also pioneered new procedures for the experimental study of episodic memory and future planning, which have had a majorimpact on our understanding not only of animal cognition but also of its relationship to human memory and cognition, and how and when these abilities develop in young children.
Professor Robert Plomin, Department of Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatric Research, Kings College, London, UK
Robert Plomin, Ph.D., is MRC Research Professor of Behavioural Genetics at the Institute of Psychiatry in London and Deputy Director of the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre. Plomin’s research brings together genetic and environmental strategies to investigate their joint effect on the development of cognitive abilities and disabilities. He has received lifetime research achievement awards from the Behavior Genetics Association (2002), the American Psychological Society (2005), and the Society for Research in Child Development (2005). He is senior author of the major textbook in the field (Behavioral Genetics, Worth Publishers, 5th edition, 2008) as well as author of a dozen other books including Genetics and Experience: The Interplay Between Nature and Nurture (Sage Publications, 1994). He has published more than 500 papers and chapters.
Professor Sir Paul Mellars, University of Cambridge, UK
Paul Mellars is Professor Emeritus of Prehistory and Human Evolution at the University of Cambridge, Professional Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College. He took his initial doctorate at Cambridge in 1967 (specialising in the behaviour and organization of Neanderthal populations in Europe), and taught for ten years at Sheffield University before returning to Cambridge in 1981. His recent research has focused on the cultural and cognitive origins of Homo sapiens populations in Africa, and their subsequent dispersal to other parts of the world, based on a close integration between the DNA and archaeological evidence for modern human dispersals, with publications in Nature, Science and elsewhere.
His books include The Neanderthal Legacy (1996), Modelling the Early Human Mind (1996), Rethinking the Human Revolution (2007) and reports on excavations of later prehistoric (Mesolithic) sites in northern England and Scotland. He is a member of the Academia Europaea, an 'Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques', and a recipient of the British Academy Grahame Clark Medal for Prehistory (2008). He was awarded a knighthood for 'services to scholarship' in the 2010 New Year's honours list.
Professor Henry Markram, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
Henry Markram started in medicine in South Africa, moved to neuroscience at the Weizmann Institute for Science, National Institutes of Health and Max Plank Institute, and finally to the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he founded the Brain Mind Institute. The BMI today hosts over 200 researchers. Markram is most known for experimentally discovering the three fundamental laws of learning in the brain: Long-Term Microcircuit Plasticity (LTMP) configures connectivity between neurons to allow the brain to create cell assemblies that represent elementary percepts. Spike Timing Dependent Plasticity (STDP) rewards or punishes synaptic connections according to their punctuality to adjust their strength. Redistribution of Synaptic Efficacy (RSE) tunes the connections to adjust their associations. STDP can link cell assemblies into chains to create trains of percepts – thoughts. Henry Markram co-discovered Liquid Computing which explains how the brain can process and store information and simultaneously receives new information. He co-discovered the Intense World Theory of Autism, which proposes that the microcircuitries of the autistic brain has a common pathology of hyper-reactivity and hyper-plasticity. Markram has derived the blue prints for the design of the neocortical column, the elementary microcircuitry of the neocortex, which confers higher brain function to mammals. Markram founded the Blue Brain Project where he is merging future information and computing technologies with biology to be analyze, predictively reverse engineer, reconstruct, and inteactively simulate the brain of the mouse, rat, cat, monkey and eventually the Human brain with exquisite biological realism. He runs a theoretical, computer science and experimental laboratory to study, database, reconstruct and simulate the brain in health and disease. He believes simulating the Human brain must be made possible regardless of the difficulties inorder to understand the fundamental mechanics of brain function and dysfunction and to develop personalized treatments. Markram published over 100 scientific papers.
Professor Michael Shadlen, University of Washington School of Medicine, USA
Michael Shadlen MD, PhD is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute and Professor of Physiology & Biophysics at the University of Washington, Seattle. He also is a Core Staff Scientist of the National Primate Research Center at the University of Washington. Shadlen completed two years of medical school at Brown before taking leave from his medical studies to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of California at Berkeley. He then moved to Stanford University for clinical training in Neurology. Since launching his own laboratory at the University of Washington, Shadlen’s research has focused primarily on understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie decision making. By combining neural recording with behavioral testing and computational modeling, he has begun to ascertain how the brain reasons from evidence, deliberates and forms beliefs. He is also a practicing neurologist and a jazz guitarist.
Professor Richard Morris CBE FRS, University of Edinburgh, UK
Professor Richard Morris
Professor Nancy Kanwisher, McGovern Institute, MIT, USA
Nancy Kanwisher is the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and Investigator at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research. She received her B.S. in 1980 and her PhD in 1986, both from MIT. After receiving her Ph.D., Kanwisher held a MacArthur Fellowship in Peace and International Security for two years. Kanwisher then served as a faculty member for several years each in the UCLA and Harvard Psychology departments, before returning to MIT in 1997. Kanwisher's lab has contributed to the identification and characterisation of a number of regions in the human brain that conduct very specific cognitive functions: four are involved in the visual perception of specific kinds of stimuli (faces, places, bodies, and words), and another is selectively engaged in inferring the contents of another person’s thoughts. Kanwisher received a Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences in 1999, a MacVicar Faculty Fellow teaching Award from MIT in 2002, and the Golden Brain Award from the Minerva Foundation in 2007. She was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.
Professor Patrick Haggard, UCL, UK
Patrick Haggard leads the 'Action and Body' research group at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. His research interests include voluntary action, self-control, consciousness and somatosensory processes. He has written extensively on the neuroscience of volition and inhibition, and recently contributed an article on volition to the Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics.
Professor Luiz Pessoa, Department of Psychology, Indiana University, USA
Luiz Pessoa received a PhD in computational neuroscience at Boston University (1996) and post-doctoral training in the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition headed by Leslie G. Ungerleider at the National Institute of Mental Health (1999 to 2003). He is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. His research interests center around the interactions between cognition and emotion/motivation in the human brain.
Professor Michael Gazzaniga, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Dr Michael Gazzaniga received his A.B. from Dartmouth College and attended the California Institute of Technology, where he received his Ph.D. in Psychobiology. Here he worked under the guidance of Roger Sperry, with primary responsibility for initiating human split-brain research. Through his extensive work with split-brain patients, Dr Gazzaniga has made important advances in our understanding of functional lateralization in the human brain and of how the cerebral hemispheres communicate with one another. His research is well known not only in clinical and basic science circles, but to the lay public as well. He captured the main features of this work in his widely acclaimed book, The Social Brain, 1985 (Basic Books). His book, Mind Matters, 1988 (Houghton Mifflin) served as an introduction to problems in mental disorders. In 1992 he published Nature’s Mind (Basic Books) which the New York Times said “would do for brain research what Stephen Hawking had done for cosmology.” In 2005 he published, The Ethical Brain; His new book, Human was published in 2008. Dr Gazzaniga is the president of The Cognitive Neuroscience Institute, which he founded in 1982, and is the Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, which he also founded. In 1997, Dr Gazzaniga was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He also has the Past-President of the American Psychological Society. He also served on the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2001-2009. In 2005 he was elected to the National Academies Institute of Medicine. In 2009 he presented the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh.
Professor Ned Block, Department of Philosophy, New York University,
Ned Block is Silver Professor of Philosophy, Psychology and Neural Science at NYU. He works in philosophy of mind and foundations of neuroscience and cognitive science and is currently writing a book on attention. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has been a Guggenheim Fellow and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Science Foundation; He is a past president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and past President of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness. The Philosophers' Annual selected his papers as one of the "ten best" in 1983, 1990, 1995 and 2002. The first of two volumes of his collected papers, Functionalism, Consciousness and Representation, MIT Press came out in May, 2007. In 2008-2009, he was Townsend Visitor, University of California at Berkeley and Smart Lecturer at the Australian National University; In 2009-2010, he gave the Josiah Royce Lectures at Brown University and the Royal Institute of Philosophy Annual Lecture. In 2010-2011, he will give the Thalheimer Lectures at Johns Hopkins.
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