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Events & Programs

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

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Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
4:00 pm, PAIS 290 

I’m Glad ‘My Brain Made Me Do It’:  Free Will as a Neuropsychological Success Story

Eddy Nahmias
Department of Philosophy, and Neuroscience Institute
Georgia State University

‘Willusionists’ argue that science is discovering that free will is an illusion. Their arguments take a variety of forms, but they often suggest that if the brain is responsible for our actions, then we are not.  And they predict that ordinary people share this view.  I will discuss some evidence that most people do not think that free will or responsibility conflict with the possibility that our decisions could be perfectly predicted based on earlier brain activity.  I will consider why this possibility might appear problematic but why it shouldn’t.  Once we define free will properly, we see that neuroscience and psychology can help to explain how it works, rather than explain it away.  Human free will is allowed by a remarkable assembly of neuropsychological capacities, including imagination, control of attention, valuing, and ‘self-habituation’.


Thursday, September 18th, 2014
12:00 noon

From Rambo to Rushdie via Linklater and Lavant:  Our Peanut Butter Cup Runneth Over

Dan Reynolds
Department of Film & Media Studies
Emory University

Marshall Duke
Department of Psychology
Emory University

Some things are easier to mix together than others.  There is the proverbial problem of mixing oil and water, but then there is also the smooth blending of coffee and cream.  Bringing together students from film studies and psychology in order to study theory of mind might best be described as midway between these extremes—for us the best metaphor is peanut butter and chocolate—not always easy to integrate, but the result is well worth it (as the Reese’s candy folks have shown).
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in collaboration between the social sciences and the humanities.  Venerable humanities journals such as Style now publish reports on digital analyses of modern and classic texts as well as writings discussing the evolutionary significance of fiction.  Publications such as The Scientific Study of Literature and The Journal of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts have appeared.   It should come as no surprise that there is controversy surrounding these new "Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups."  Our CMBC lunch discussion will represent an effort to identify some of the main questions surrounding the mixing of empirical/theoretical social science and the humanities.  We hope that the gathered company will consider the pros and cons of such a blend (which has a history dating back to Freud’s analysis of Leonardo daVinci’s relationship with his mother!) and enjoy a good discussion.  We cannot say what the lunch will comprise, but the dessert will be….well, you might be able to guess.

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


Friday, September 19th, 2014
9:00 am until 5:30 pm
Silverbell Pavillion, Emory Conference Center Hotel

The Social Mind:  A Festschrift Symposium Honoring the Career of Frans de Waal

Sarah Brosnan (Department of Psychology, Georgia State University): That's Not Fair! What Cucumber-Throwing Capuchins Tell Us about the Evolution of Fairness
Pier Francesco Ferrari (Unita di Fisiologia, Universita degli Studi di Parma): The Evolution of Mind and What Neuroscience Can Tell Us about It
Robert Frank (Johnson School of Management, Cornell University): Frans de Waal: Economic Naturalist
Harold Gouzoules (Department of Psychology, Emory University): From Darvin to de Waal:  A Brief History of Animal Behavior Research
Melanie Killen (College of Education, University of Maryland): How Frans de Waal Changed the Field:  The Origins and Development of Morality
Harry Kunneman (Social Philosophy, Universiteit Voor Humanistiek): Science, Morality, and Epistemology:  Frans de Waal's Visionary Quest
Lisa Parr (Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University): My Journey into Face Space:  Graduate School and Beyond
Susan Perry (Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles): The Social Mind of Wild Capuchins
Josh Plotnik (University of Cambridge): A Primate's Festschrift:  Pant Grunts, Elephant Noses, and Frans
Karen Strier (Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin): Exceptional Primates and the Insights that Change a Field
Stephanie Preston (Department of Psychology, University of Michigan): A "Good Natured" Biological and Historical Evolution of Empathy
Jan van Hoof (Universiteit Utrecht): Introduction to Frans B.M. de Waal


Frans de Waal
Department of Psychology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and Living Links Center
Emory University

From Chimpanzee Politics to Primate Empathy:  A Career

Sponsored by the Department of Psychology with additional support from the Emory Conference Center Hotel Subvention Fund, the Hightower Fund, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and the CMBC.


Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

Using Developmental Neurogenetics to Understand Psychopathology:  Examples from Youth Antisocial Behavior

Luke Hyde
Department of Psychology
University of Michigan

The development of psychopathology occurs through the complex interplay of genes, experience, and the brain.  In this talk, I will describe a developmental neurogenetics approach to understanding the development of psychopathology.  In this approach, individual variability in genetic background is linked to neural function and subsequent risk and resilience through interactions with the environment. Guided by a developmental psychopathology framework, I will give examples of approaches to link genes, brain, behavior, and experience, with a particular emphasis on studies from my lab aimed at understanding the development of antisocial behavior (e.g., aggression, theft, and violation of serious rules). These examples highlight the role of serotonin genes on amygdala reactivity, the role of amygdala reactivity in antisocial behavior, and the importance of identifying subtypes of antisocial behavior such as callous-unemotional traits and psychopathy that may have different etiologies.

Luke W. Hyde, PhD, director of the Michigan Neurogenetics and Developmental Psychopathology Laboratory (MiND Lab), is an assistant professor in the psychology department at the University of Michigan, with additional affiliations at the Center for Human Growth and Development and the Institute for Social Research.  He received a BA from Williams College and a PhD in clinical and developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh with an additional concentration in cognitive neuroscience from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition.  Dr. Hyde also completed a clinical psychology residency from the Western Psychiatry Institute and Clinics of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. His research interests focus on the development of risk and resilience in youth and families facing multiple stressors using a wide range of approaches including longitudinal studies, functional neuroimaging, and molecular genetics to explore the interaction of experience and biology across development.  His recent research has focused on factors involved in the development of psychopathology, particularly externalizing and antisocial behaviors in youth with a specific interest in early empathy deficits and later psychopathy. 


Monday, September 29th, 2014
4:00 pm, Oxford Presentation Auditorium, Oxford Road Building

The Seven Sins of Memory:  An Update 

Daniel Schacter
Department of Psychology
Harvard University

Over a decade ago, I proposed that memory errors can b e classified into seven fundamental categories or "sins": transience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias, and persistence. During the past decade, much has been learned about each of the seven sins, especially as a result of research that has combined the methods of psychology and neuroscience. This presentation will provide an update on our current understanding of the seven sins, with a focus on the sins of absent-mindedness (failures of attention that result in memory errors) and misattribution (when information is mistakenly assigned to the wrong source, resulting in memory distrotions such as false recognition). I will discuss recent research on absent-mindedness that has examined the role of mind wandering in memory for lectures, and will present evidence indicating that interpolated testing can counter such absent-minded lapses. I will also discuss recent research that has clarified both cognitive and neural aspects of misattribution, and consider evidence for the idea that misattribution and other memory sins can be conceived of as byproducts of otherwise adaptive features of memory.


Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

Male and Female Brains: A Distinction that Makes a Difference

Brad Cooke
Neuroscience Institute
Georgia State University

We have known for more than forty years that the brains of humans and other animals are sexually dimorphic. That is, there are reliable differences in the average size, shape, and connectivity of male and female brains. While the existence of neural sex differences is beyond dispute, their significance is controversial. What do neural sex differences mean for social norms, mental health, and the perennial argument about “nature vs. nurture”?

This talk will focus on the neuroscience of sex differences. The speaker will describe how sex differences in the brain are typically studied and how the factors that influence their development have been identified. Gonadal hormones such as testosterone and estrogen play a major role in establishing sex differences. Yet at the same time, sex-typical experiences are also important in the development of male and female brains. That is, both hormones and hormone-driven experience seem to be necessary for the normal development and expression of sex-typical brains and behaviors.

Many complex psychiatric conditions, such as drug abuse, anxiety, and depression, vary by sex in terms of their prevalence, age-of-onset, and severity. Thus, while sex differences are intrinsically interesting, they may also provide clues about the origins of mental illness and potential treatments. The final part of the talk will focus on Dr. Cooke’s research at Georgia State University in which he and his students have sought to identify factors that influence the sex-specific prevalence of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. He will describe their efforts to develop a model of adverse early experience and its impact on anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in the laboratory rat. Finally, and if time permits, Dr. Cooke will present some exciting new data concerning his lab's use of a novel brain - computer interface to study sex differences at the neural network level. 


Thursday, October 16th, 2014
12:00 noon

LUNCH:  Thinking Musical Thoughts

Don Saliers
Candler School of Theology
Emory University

Richard Patterson
Department of Philosophy
Emory University

What does it mean for a musician to “think musical thoughts”?  How does such thinking interact with processes that seem more like “feeling” than thinking? And how do both relate in real time to pre-established habits of thought and feeling, communal conventions regarding interpretation and performance, one’s own highly trained but flexible motor routines, and feedback from hearing oneself?  We look at such questions (as time permits) from the perspective of music study, rehearsal and performance, especially in small ensembles, where awareness of other performers’ roles and a sense of the musical whole are additional crucial factors.   Finally, how are all these factors coordinated in real time performance?  Who or what—if anything--is in charge?

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


Thursday, October 30th, 2014
12:00 noon, PAIS 464 

Key to Universal Flu Vaccine: Embrace the Unfamiliar
Ali Ellebedy
Microbiology and Immunology
Emory University School of Medicine

Vaccination is the most effective means of attaining protection against influenza viruses. Conventional protective anti-influenza antibodies primarily target few sites within the globular head region of influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA), the principal target of virus-neutralizing antibody responses. However, the constantly evolving nature of influenza viruses enable them to escape pre-existing immune surveillance thwarting public health efforts to control influenza annual epidemics. One solution is to elicit protective antibodies directed against highly conserved epitopes, such as those within the stem region of HA. Current influenza vaccination strategies rely on changing the HA components of the annual vaccine to ensure that they match circulating influenza strains. Our data show that annual influenza vaccines induce antibody responses that are largely directed against the highly variable HA head region, which are protective, but are strain specific and does not provide the much-sought broad protection. In contrast, immunization with HAs derived from influenza virus strains that are currently not circulating in humans (e.g. H5N1) did substantially increase HA stem-specific responses and thus represents a viable strategy for promoting broadly protective immunity against influenza.

ADRA1A Locus and Response to Treatment of Major Depression

Adriana Lori
Human Genetics
Emory University School of Medicine

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of dis-ability worldwide. While effective treatments for MDD are available, responses to treatment for MDD are often sub-optimal, with remission occurring in less than 50% of patients.   ADRA1A encodes the α1 adrenergic receptor, which is a key brain protein that mediates signaling by the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Several lines of evidence suggest the importance of ADRA1A as a gene influencing response to treatment in MDD; among these, our preliminary data from 82 patients randomly assigned to two lines of treatment (SSRI escitalopram or CBT) showed a statistical relationship between one SNP in the ADRA1a region and patterns of brain activity (PET) associated with achievement of remission. To further explore whether ADRA1A polymorphisms may influence achievement of remission in response to antidepresssant treatment, the 82 patients who participated in the treatment study mentioned above will be completely sequenced for the ADRA1A locus to identify unique SNPs that impact the function of the gene. If we identified SNPs or mutations that distinguish responders vs non-responders, we could i) establish a line of therapy for the responders ii) search new strategies and options for non-responders c) establish cell lines and animal models to experiment new pharmaco-therapies in non-responders. Research funded by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD).


Thursday, November 13th, 2014
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

Neuroanthropology and the Biocultural Approach: Understanding Human Brain Variation in the Wild

Daniel Lende
Department of Anthropology
University of South Florida

We now recognize that our brains are more plastic than once imagined.  Research in neurobiology has shown that how our brains function is shaped by reciprocal influences between genetics, development, behavior, culture, and environment.  However, much of this research has been done in laboratory and clinical settings, without concurrent examination of how brains vary in the wild.  This talk will outline the field of neuroanthropology using prominent examples including addiction and balance, and then reflect on how this synergy of neuroscience and anthropology emerged out of the biocultural approach pioneered at Emory.


Monday, December 8th, 2014
4:00 pm, PAIS 464

INFORMATION SESSION: Interdisciplinary Faculty Fellowships

Mark Risjord
Institute for Liberal Arts
Emory University

The College will offer in fall 2015 the first Interdisciplinary Faculty Fellowships, to be housed in the Institute of the Liberal Arts.  These fellowships offer an opportunity to develop new interdisciplinary projects and to work in a collaborative intellectual environment. Multi-year fellowships allow faculty members to reduce their normal departmental obligations, and provide support in pursuit of new fields of inquiry.
You can find many more details about these fellowships at this website:  http://college.emory.edu/home/administration/faculty_fellowships/index.html.  Mark Risjord is available to answer further questions at mark.risjord@emory.edu.  
Additional information sessions will be held on

* Wednesday, November 19, 4:00-5:00, Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, 1635 North Decatur Road
* Thursday January 15, 4:00-5:00, Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods, 405 Modern Languages Building



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