CMBC Past Lunches

SPRING 2017

Tuesday, January 24       

Donald Tuten (Linguistics, Emory University)

Alena Esposito (Psychology, Emory University)

Sociocultural and Psychological Perspectives on Bilingualism

Alena Esposito (Research Scientist in Psychology) and Don Tuten (Associate Professor of Spanish and Lingusitics) will discuss different aspects of research on bilingualism. Dr. Esposito will focus on recent cognitive and neuroscientific research on bilingualism, while Dr. Tuten will focus on fundamental questions in social and cultural approaches to research on bilingualism. Both presenters will touch on and consider the implications of these approaches on education and educational approaches to research on bilingualism.

Thursday, February 16   

Joseph Neisser (Philosophy, Grinnell College)

Consciousness from an Empirical Stance

A chief stumbling block for a science of consciousness has always been that there are so few ways to measure consciousness. Recent developments in clinical neuroscience suggest a promising new start on this problem, and raise new empirical issues. The progress may also carry some surprising philosophical implications for realists about consciousness.

Thursday, April 6             

Eric Smadja (Paris, France)

Laughter:  An Example of Human Complexity

Sponsored by the Psychanalytic Institute with support from the Psychoanalytic Studies Program, the Department of Anthropology, and the CMBC

As a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and anthropologist, I will review and discuss the discourse on laughter. Traditionally, this discourse seems to summon to mind three principal characteristics of laughter: its specifically human nature, its structural relationship to the joy and pleasure procured by what is laughable, making laughter an indicator of “good health,” and its automatic, reflexive aspect. Unfortunately, it seems to obscure two fundamental aspects of laughter: its historicity and the complexity of its determinism. I think that laughter, like all human behavior, referring to human complexity, must be the object of a multi and interdisciplinary approach involving biological, psychological, historical and socio-cultural considerations. And one of the modes of their interaction may be supplied by the idea of communication. Indeed, traditionally perceived as being a facial emotional expression, laughter is fundamentally a mode of non-verbal communication of different types of affective messages among which figure, in the first place, joy and pleasure, but also aggressiveness and anxiety. So this idea of communication could well be the unifying concept by means of which laughter’s biological, psychological, pathological and socio-cultural facets may be envisaged.

FALL 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Challenges and Advances in Understanding the Varieties of Mental Experience

Jennifer Mascaro 
Department of Anthropology
Emory University

Carol Worthman 
Department of Anthropology
Emory University

Anthropology has a long history of investigating human variation with the goal of understanding the genetic, environmental, and epigenetic sources of variation existing within and between human populations. Yet the field has historically focused on variation from the neck down. In this discussion we identify inherent challenges to understanding the varieties of mental experience and explore several of the latest methodological advances that have helped researchers better address questions of human brain variation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015    

What Is Normal Sleep? 

Benjamin Reiss 
Department of English
Emory University

David Rye 
Department of Neurology
Emory University School of Medicine 

We will discuss our collaboration as co-teachers of a course called "Sleep in Science and Culture" and our consultations with each other since.  We aim to show how a discussion between disciplines can help define what is normal and what is pathological, and the consequences of making those distinctions.

SPRING 2015

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

How to Build Bridges between Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology?

Dieter Jaeger
Department of Biology
Emory University

Phil Wolff
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.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2014

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.

FALL 2014

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

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.

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

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?

SPRING 2014

Friday, February 21st

Gender Matters in the Academy?

Carla Freeman
Department of Anthropology
Emory University

Kim Wallen
Department of Psychology
Emory University

This collaborative discussion turns attention to gender in the academy. How are academic work and the academic workplace gendered? We approach these broad questions not simply from the perspective of relative numbers, promotion records, pay, etc. of women/men in the ranks of students, staff, faculty and administrators, but by exploring the subtle dimensions and performances of gender that shape the very fabric of academic work and workplace practices.

FALL 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Unsavory Emotions and Their Developmental Roots

Laura Otis, PhD
Department of English
Emory University 

Philippe Rochat, PhD
Department of Psychology
Emory University

Laura Otis and Philippe Rochat discussed unsavory human emotions from literary, physiological, and evolutionary perspectives. Otis will give an overview of her 2012 CMBC course, Cognitive Science and Fiction, and its role in inspiring a new research project on metaphors used to represent self-pity, anger, hate, and refusal to forgive. In descriptions of these emotions, religious, socio-political, and gender assumptions merge, but representations of these emotions also suggest the ways that minds and bodies interact to produce the feelings people experience. Otis offers some preliminary observations about metaphors for these emotions in classical literary and religious texts and in some recent films. Rochat discusses his research on fairness, jealousy, envy, fear of losing, and other human emotions surrounding the concept of possession. He considers, based on his and other developmental observations, the evolutionary roots of these emotions and whether they, along with related feelings such as shame and guilt, are specific to humans.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is There a Place for Cognitive Style in Contemporary Psychology and Neuroscience? Issues in the Definition and Conceptualization

Maria Kozhevnikov, PhD
Department of Radiology
Harvard University School of Medicine

There is a very strong need for an update of current style theories in both cognitive neuroscience and applied fields. The proposed discussion will provide the critical perspectives of the current state of cognitive style research from different research traditions (e.g., cognitive neuroscience, education, management). First, Kozhevnikov reviews the recent advances in cognitive psychology and neuroscience to redefine cognitive style as well as outline the possibilities of its integration into current cognitive theories of individual differences in cognition. She argues for the importance of such integration not only for the field of cognitive style but also for cognitive neuroscience, which still lacks a coherent framework of individual differences. Second, to support the validity of the cognitive style concept, she reviews recent advances in cross-cultural psychology and neuroscience that have documented the existence of culture-sensitive patterns of neural and cognitive processing as well as discuss neuroscience evidence demonstrating that cognitive style can be represented by specific patterns of neural activity even in the absence of differences in performance on behavioral/cognitive ability measures. Third, she reviews developments and applications of the cognitive style concept to the fields of education, business and management. Finally, based on the above review, she redefines cognitive style as culture-sensitive patterns of cognitive processing that can operate at different levels of information processing, thus suggesting the feasibility of formulating a theoretical framework unifying numerous style types and dimensions, as well as its application to the applied fields.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Is Racism a Psychopathology?

Sander Gilman, PhD
Institute for the Liberal Arts
Emory University 

In 2012, an interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Oxford reported that, based on their clinical experiment, the beta-blocker drug, Propranolol, could reduce implicit racial bias among its users. Whites were given a single oral dose of the drug, then asked to complete the Implicit Association Test, a reliable measure of racial prejudice. Relative to the placebo, those who were given Propranolol experienced no indicators of implicit racial bias. Though the researchers warned of the danger in biological research being used to make a “more moral society,” they also asserted “such research raises the tantalizing possibility that our unconscious racial attitudes could be modulated using drugs.” Shortly after the experiment, an article in Time Magazine, citing the study, asked the question that frames our project: Is racism becoming a mental illness?

My new book project traces the genealogies of race and racism as psychopathological categories from mid-19th century Europe and the United States up to the aforementioned clinical experiment at the University of Oxford. Using historical, archival, and content analysis, we provide a rich account for how the 19th century ‘Sciences of Man’, including anthropology, medicine, and biology, used race as a means of defining psychopathology at the very beginning of modern clinical psychiatry and subsequently how these claims about race and madness became embedded within claims of those disciplines that deal with mental health and illness. Finally, we describe the contemporary shift in explaining racism occurring since the end of World War II – from that of a social, political, and cultural consequence to that of a pathological byproduct.

SPRING 2013

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Perspectives on the 2012 Presidential Election

Drew Westen, PhD
Department of Psychology
Emory University

Alan Abramowitz, PhD
Department of Political Science
Emory University

What were the factors that contributed to the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election?  How did campaign tactics, current events, the media, and the changing face of the electorate influence voter turnout and voting patterns? Insights will be provided from a political science perspective on election forecasting and polling, and from a psychology perspective on campaign messaging and the roles of emotion and cognition in voters’ decision making.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hearing Voices in California, Chennai and Accra

Tanya Luhrmann, PhD
Department of Anthropology
Stanford University

Psychiatric science presumes that hallucinations are an uninteresting byproduct of psychosis. This comparison of the voices heard by people with schizophrenia suggests that there are significant cultural variations between the voice-hearing experiences, and that these differences may have implications for treatment. The paper argues that the differences arise because of differences in local theories of mind.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Narratives, Self-Transformation, and Healing

Robyn Fivush, PhD
Department of Psychology
Emory University

Chikako Ozawa-de Silva, PhD
Department of Anthropology
Emory University

Narratives are both the process and the product of personal meaning-making.  In this discussion, we will focus on two contexts of narrative meaning-making.  In one, clients engaged in the Japanese practice of Naikan narrate their life events along prescribed lines in a way that effects self-transformation and, in many cases, healing. This manner of narrating one’s life through the perspectives of others results in poignant reflections that shed light on the mental states of clients, whether they be feelings of gratitude and connection with others, or resentment, hostility and blame. In the other, individuals who are able to construct more coherent, emotionally expressive and explanatory narratives of difficult and aversive experiences show higher levels of psychological well-being, but only if the narratives include themes of personal growth and redemption.

FALL 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Images in the Mind

Krish Sathian, MD, PhD
Department of Neurology
School of Medicine
Emory University

Laura Otis, PhD
Department of English
Emory University 

We will explore how people vary in their individual experiences of mental imagery and how this might relate to their creative abilities, with particular reference to writing. Then we will consider neural processes that underlie imagery and its variable expression across individuals.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Theories of (Embodied) Mind: Some Thoughts and Afterthoughts

Michael Moon, PhD
Institute of the Liberal Arts
Emory University

Elizabeth Wilson, PhD
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Emory University

We will discuss some thoughts and afterthoughts on theories of embodied mind, based on our CMBC-sponsored graduate course "Theories of Mind."

SPRING 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Handwriting: The Brain, the Hand, the Eye, the Ear

Evelyne Ender, PhD
Department of Romance Languages
Hunter College, CUNY

This lunch session addresses the course of Dr. Ender’s engagement with the concept of graphology, focusing specifically on implications of the emergent transition from hand-written, manuscript technologies to digital modes of writing and archival expression. This talk surveys several approaches to this transition in contemporary empirical research with the goal of opening up productive new possibilities for encounters between humanistic and scientific perspectives. Co-sponsored by the Hightower Fund, the Department of French and ItalianThe Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the Department of Art History, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of English, the Program in Linguistics, the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Narrative: Films and Texts

Salman Rushdie
University Distinguished Professor
Emory University

How does one transform a literary narrative into film? What is the difference between writing for a narrative text and writing for a film? How might the author invoke scene, place, character and other elements differently depending on the medium? This discussion session highlights Dr. Rushdie's expertise in narrative and how it functions in a variety of forms.

FALL 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Is Language? 

Susan Tamasi, PhD
Department of Linguistics
Emory University

Robert N. McCauley, PhD
Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture 
Emory University

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cultural and Neuroscientific Perspectives on Emotion

Jocelyne Bachevalier, PhD
Department of Psychology
Emory University

Dierdra Reber, PhD
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Emory University

SPRING 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Does the Brain Have to Do with Sex and Gender?

Deboleena Roy, PhD
Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Emory University

Kim Wallen, PhD
Department of Psychology 
Emory University

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Bodiliy Aesthetics of Human Meaning-Making

Mark Johnson, PhD
Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences
University of Oregon

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How a Conductor Prepares for an Orchestral Performance

Robert Spano
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

FALL 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mind and Brain from the Perspectives of Buddhism and Western Science

Larry Barsalou, PhD
Department of Psychology
Emory University

John Dunne, PhD
Graduate Division of Religion 
Emory University

Friday, October 8, 2010

Origins of Human Sociality

Philippe Rochat, PhD
Department of Psychology
Emory University

Bradd Shore, PhD
Department of Anthropology
Emory University

Friday, October 8, 2010

Translation

Lisa Dillman, PhD
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Emory University

Mark Risjord, PhD
Department of Philosophy
Emory University

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Humans Understand Space

Leslie Taylor, PhD
Department of Theater Studies
Emory University

Stella Lourenco, PhD
Department of Psychology
Emory University

SPRING 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Perceiving Injustice

Karen Hegtvedt, PhD
Department of Sociology
Emory University

Michael Sullivan, PhD
Graduate Division of Religion 
Emory University

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Can Machines Be Intelligent?

John Johnston, PhD
Department of English
Emory University

Sidney Perkowitz, PhD
Department of Physics
Emory University

SPRING 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Music on the Brain

Paul Lennard, PhD
Department of Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology
Emory University

Steve Everett, PhD
Department of Music
Emory University

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Language in Context

Debra Spitulnik Vidali, PhD
Department of Anthropology
Emory University

Lynne Nygaard, PhD
Department of Psychology
Emory University

FALL 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Knowledge Grounded in the Body

Larry Barsalou, PhD
Department of Psychology
Emory University

Tim McDonough, PhD
Department of Theater Studies
Emory University

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Social Decision Making

C. Monica Capra, PhD
Department of Economics
Emory University

Jim Rilling, PhD
Department of Anthropology
Emory University