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Events & Programs

Please click HERE for a complete listing of all events this term.

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SPRING 2015 SEMESTER
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Thursday, February 5th, 2015
4:00 pm, PAIS 290 

LECTURE: Look Again:  Anamorphic Projection and Social Theory in Shakespeare

Bradd Shore
Department of Anthropology
Emory University

Few would contest the claim that Shakespeare was a great poet and playwright. Less indisputable, perhaps, is the notion that he was also a great social theorist. By this, I'm not referring to theory in the weak sense of occasional philosophically nuanced comments by characters, or speeches with philosophical overtones. I mean that Shakespeare was a social theorist in the strong sense that, in addition to being powerful stories, his plays often are extended reflections on many of the classic issues of social thought. If I'm right about this, it raises an important question about literary technique and voice. Normally the analytical voice of the theorist is very different and in some sense in tension with the narrative voice of the dramatist or novelist. Reconciling the requirements of effective theoretical analysis and affecting dramatic narrative is a major challenge. This talk, adapted from my upcoming book on Shakespeare and social theory, deals with one important way in which Shakespeare accomplished this literary pas de deux by adapting anamorphic projection, a visual technique perfected by Renaissance painters, to literary narrative. Anamorphosis developed in relation to the Renaissance science of optics and its far-reaching effects on perspective.  While anamorphic projection has been widely appreciated in the history of painting, its use as a holographic literary technique is less well-known, and its use by Shakespeare as a way of expanding the semantic range of his plays is virtually unappreciated.

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Thursday, February 19th, 2015
12:00 noon

LUNCH:  How to Build Bridges between Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology?

Dieter Jaeger
Department of Biology
Emory University

Larry Barsalou
Department of Psychology
Emory University

The time seems right to rethink how the fields of cognitive psychology and computational neuroscience could take advantage of each other.  Both fields make use of quantitative models, one of cognitive processes the other of brain processes.  Since the brain ultimately supports cognitive processes one should think these levels of description should merge.  Interestingly that has largely not happened yet.  We will discuss possible approaches and areas of content where such overlap might become possible in the near future.

Limited attendance by registration only. Opportunities to register will be announced.

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Tuesday, February 24th, 2014
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

LUNCH:  Now You See It, Now You Don’t:  Scientists, Humanists, and Collective Memory

Hazel Gold
Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Emory University

Angelika Bammer
Institute for Liberal Arts
Emory University

Collective memory—sometimes referred to as public memory, or social (or cultural) memory—is a term commonly used in the humanities. It posits the act of remembering as ineluctably linked to what the French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs (who is credited with elaborating the concept) called the “social frameworks” of memory such as family, class, ethnic, national or religious communities. Within these social frameworks, an individual’s recollection of events is shaped by the shared experience of that event as the group in question frames it. Cognitive scientists, on the other hand, speak in terms of personal memory, distinguishing among three types—procedural, semantic, and episodic—that enable individuals to register and recall a range of experiences.  How do we go from the multiplicity of private, individual memories to the potential unity of collective memory?  Inversely, can the collective memory of an event shared by a social group influence the way an individual recollects her experience of that same event? For humanists the concept of collective memory is a useful analytical tool, while scientists find it questionable, if not useless to their inquiries. Can we--humanists and scientists—talk across these differences and, if so, how? Our discussion will address this question on the basis of a CMBC-sponsored seminar in the field of Memory Studies to see what common ground may exist to facilitate bridges between scientific and humanistic inquiry in this field.

Limited attendance by registration only. Opportunities to register will be announced.

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Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
4:00 pm, White Hall 207

LECTURE: Linguistic Experience and Speech-in-Noise Recognition 

Ann Bradlow
Department of Linguistics
Northwestern University

The language(s) that we know shape the way we process and represent the speech that we hear.  Since real-world speech recognition almost always takes place in conditions that involve some sort of background noise, we can ask whether the influence of linguistic knowledge and experience on speech processing extends to the particular challenges posed by speech-in-noise recognition, specifically the perceptual separation of speech from background noise (Experiment Series 1) and the cognitive representation of speech and concurrent background noise (Experiment Series 2).  In Experiment Series 1, listeners were asked to recognize English sentences embedded in a background of competing speech that was either English (matched-language, English-in-English recognition) or another language (mismatched-language, e.g. English-in-Mandarin recognition).  Listeners were either native or non-native listeners of the target language (usually, English), and were either familiar or unfamiliar with the language of the to-be-ignored, background speech (English, Mandarin, Dutch, or Croatian).  This series of experiments demonstrated that matched-language speech-in-speech recognition is substantially harder than mismatched-language speech-in-speech recognition.  Moreover, the magnitude of the mismatched-language benefit was modulated by long-term linguistic experience (specifically, listener familiarity with the background language), as well as by short-term adaptation to a consistent background language within a test session.  Thus, we conclude that speech recognition in conditions that involve competing background speech engages higher-level, experience-dependent, language-specific knowledge in addition to general lower-level, signal-dependent processes of auditory stream segregation.  Experiment Series 2 then investigated perceptual classification and encoding in memory of spoken words and concurrently presented background noise.  Converging evidence from eye-tracking, speeded classification, and continuous recognition memory paradigms strongly suggests parallel (rather than strictly sequential) processes of stream segregation and word identification, as well as integrated (rather than segregated) cognitive representations of speech presented in background noise.  Taken together, this research is consistent with models of speech processing and representation that allow interactions between long-term, experience-dependent linguistic knowledge and instance-specific, environment-dependent sources of speech signal variability at multiple levels, ranging from relatively early/low levels of selective attention to relatively late/high levels of lexical encoding and retrieval. 

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Thursday, March 5th, 2015
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE: War and Peace and Social Identity

Mark Moffett
Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History
Visiting Scholar, Department of Human Evolution, Harvard University

An essential feature of any society is the capacity of its members to distinguish one another from outsiders and reject outsiders on that basis. Some social insects and humans are able to form huge societies because their membership is anonymous—members aren’t required to distinguish all the other members as individuals for the society to remain unified. Societies are instead bonded by shared identity cues and signals, such as society-specific odors in ants and learned social labels in humans. I contrast this with societies of nonhuman vertebrates, which achieve a maximum of 200 members by the necessity that each member recalls every other member individually. The capacity to form an anonymous society is a complex trait that I will show could have arisen in our ancestors well before language. While there has been a perennial focus on the cooperative networks that emerge inside each society, identification with a clearly defined group of members, and not coop­eration or kinship as many experts assert, is the most fundamental defining characteristic of societies in humans and other animals. I will discuss how this identification bears on aggression in humans and other animals.

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Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
12:00 noon, PAIS 464 

POST DOCTORAL SYMPOSIUM

Alternative Approaches to Comparative Cognitive Neuroscience

Peter Cook
Center for Neuropolicy
Emory University

Rodent models for comparative neuroscience are flexible, cheap, highly controlled, and, consequently, pervasive. However, productive as they can be—particularly at the molecular level—these dominant models don’t accurately represent within- and cross-species variability in natural populations and are thus not always ecologically valid. Alternative models may be less expedient, but may also better fit certain research questions—they can also be more humane. I’ll address three representative lines of research in which I’ve been involved: 1. Characterization of the neurobehavioral impact of naturally occurring domoic acid toxicosis in a large sample of wild sea lions undergoing rehabilitation, 2. Opportunistic post-mortem, high-resolution diffusion tensor imaging of white matter tracts in the brains of a range of species, and 3. Awake, unrestrained fMRI conducted cooperatively with domestic dogs. Each of these projects has provided novel insight into the neurocognitive functioning of particular species, and the results emphasize the complicated connections between brain, behavior, and environment.

Behavioral and Biochemical Effects of 3,4-Methelynedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) on the Extinction of Fear Memory

Matthew B. Young
Neuroscience
Emory University

Limited attendance by registration only. Opportunities to register will be announced.

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Thursday, March 19th, 2015
4:00 pm, PAIS 464

INFORMATION SESSION: The Certificate in Mind, Brain, and Culture

Lynne Nygaard
CMBC Certificate Program Director
Emory University

The Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture has a Certificate Program for students interested in understanding issues relating to mind, brain, culture and their intersections, from multiple disciplinary
perspectives. We invite interested students to join us for an information session about the certificate program.

Light refreshments will be served.

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE: Why “Religion” Cannot Be Adaptive:  Understanding the Cognitive and Historical Varieties of Religious Representations 

Pascal Boyer
Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory
College of Arts and Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis

Why is there some “religious stuff” in all human societies? A tempting answer is that religions are somehow grounded in evolved properties of human minds. Recently, some have even suggested that religion could have been selected for ensuring large-scale cooperation and prosocial behavior. Considering the empirical evidence leads to a more sober understanding of the evolutionary processes underpinning the emergence and spread of religious concepts and norms. The term “religion” misleadingly lumps together three very different kinds of social-cultural processes, unlikely to have spread in the same contexts. I propose to model the diffusion of religious concepts in terms of cultural epidemics based on universal cognitive dispositions, showing how some (not all) religious concepts can serve as recruitment devices in building coalitions.

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Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE: Building Brains from Bottom to Top 

Chris Eliasmith
Department of Philosophy
University of Waterloo

There has recently been an international surge of interest in building large brain models.  The European Union's Human Brain Project (HBP) has received 1 billion euros worth of funding, and President Obama announced the Brain Initiative along with a similar level of funding. However the large scale models affiliated with both projects do not demonstrate how their generated complex neural activity relates to observable behaviour -- arguably the central challenge for neuroscience. I will present our recent work on large-scale brain modeling that is focussed on both biological realism and reproducing human behaviour.  I will demonstrate how the model relates to both low-level neural data and high-level behavioural data. Finally, I will discuss applications of this research to understanding both the biological basis of cognition and building more advanced robots.  

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Friday, April 3rd – Saturday, April 4th, 2015
10:00 am until 5:00 pm, White Hall 101 and White Hall 111

CONFERENCE: Imaging the Body and the Body Imaginary:  An Interdisciplinary Psychoanalytic Conference

Keynote Speaker:
Lisa Cartwright (University of California, San Diego)

Plenary Speakers:
Sander Gilman (Emory University)
Stefanie Speanburg

Contemporary representations of the human body proliferate at an ever-increasing rate through the medium of new technologies (medical and other scientifically oriented imaging technology, ‘new media’, contemporary art, etc.). This conference interrogates the bidirectional movement between subjective images of the body and contemporary technological possibilities of representation. We invite proposals from across the humanities and health sciences, from both academic and clinical perspectives, that explore the ways in which perceptions, identities, and knowledge and the process of body imaging broadly conceived influence each other. In what ways is the body being imaged? When can parts of the body come to represent the whole? What does it mean to see or to image pathology (vs the healthy body)? How do we define a healthy body image and an image of a healthy body? How do particular images of the body foster relationships (not always positive) between science and literature, doctor and patient, or art and technology? Specifically, how do these questions arise in psychoanalytic contexts and what can psychoanalysis bring to these conversations?

Sponsored by the Psychoanalytic Studies Program with additional support from the CMBC.

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Monday, April 13th, 2015
4:30 pm

LECTURE: Feeling the Heat... What is Ecopsychoanalysis? Psychoanalysis and Climate Change in the Three Ecologies

Joseph Dodds
University of New York in Prague;
Charles University’s CIEE Study Center;
Anglo-American University

What role can psychoanalysis play in understanding the ecological crisis and climate change? In our era of anxiety, denial, paranoia, apathy, guilt, rage, terror and despair in the face of climate change, there is an urgent need for a psychoanalytic approach to ecology, and an ecological approach to psychoanalysis. Drawing on the presenter’s book Psychoanalysis and Ecology at the Edge of Chaos (Dodds 2011) an ecopsychoanalytic approach suggests the need to move our psychoanalytic perspective beyond the confines of the family and even wider social system, to include relations with the other than human world, a move begun by Searles (1960, 1972). In contrast to the schizoid fragmented space of the university, divided into every narrower sub-fields, climate change forces us to think transversally, about a world of unpredictable, multiple-level, highly complex, nonlinear interlocking systems. How does a phantasy impact on an ecosystem, and vice versa? There is a need for a way of thinking able to integrate the disparate strands of analysis, related to what the psychoanalyst Bion (1984) calls the work of ‘linking’, connected with the alpha-function and the dreamwork. The philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari (2003) combined with the sciences of complexity and chaos can build on psychoanalytic perspectives to offer a new framework, or rather a 'meshwork' (DeLanda 2006), able to integrate Guattari's (2000) 'three ecologies' of mind, nature and society.

Ecopsychoanalysis is a new transdisciplinary approach to thinking about the relationship between psychoanalysis, ecology, the ‘natural’, and the problem of climate change. It draws on a range of fields including psychoanalysis, psychology, ecology, philosophy, science, complexity theory, aesthetics and the humanities. This paper seeks to introduce the main coordinates of this perspective, with the aim of helping to open up a psychoanalysis of ecology, and an ecological approach to mind, phantasy and the dynamics of the therapeutic process. How can we, as individuals, societies and as a species, bear the anxiety involved with attempting to ask the question, how are we to survive?

Sponsored by the Psychoanalytic Studies Program with additional support from the CMBC.

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