Recent Developments in Cognitive Science: From the Neuroscience of Babies to Healthy Brain Aging
Featured Speaker: Professor Gedeon Deák, Professor Andrea Chib, Professor Douglas Nitz, Professor Steven Dow, Professor Rafael Núñez
UC San Diego established the country’s first Cognitive Science department and remains a leader in the interdisciplinary study of the mind and brain, linking research in neuroscience, psychology, computer science, philosophy, and linguistics. This series features leading UCSD professors discussing recent advances in this exciting and important field. How are baby brains formed? How can brains age more healthily? How do the maps in our brain work and how do they break down? How do we make sense of time?
January 18: Baby Brains: How Are They Formed? How Do They Make Us Who We Are?
Professor Gedeon Deák
The last few decades have seen great progress in understanding how brains develop: from balls of cells to unimaginably intricate, well-organized nervous systems (billions of neurons sharing trillions of connections) that support every perception, thought, and behavior in our lives. Simultaneously, behavioral developmental researchers have had raging debates about origins of knowledge: Where does knowledge come from? Are children like “little sponges”? Are the first five years really so formative? This lecture will attempt to bridge these separate fields of developmental neurobiology and cognitive development with, first, a whirlwind tour of some astounding processes of early brain development and, second, an illustration of how this information should sharpen questions and answers about how infants learn, think, and communicate.
February 1: A Developmental Perspective on Healthy Brain Aging
Professor Andrea Chiba
The brain continues to develop and adapt to our circumstances throughout our lifespans. Whereas the aging brain is often discussed from a deficit model with aspects of cognitive decline as a central topic, aging is the natural outcome of a successful life and is accompanied with an abundance of cognitive benefits. The process of scaffolding healthy brain aging, allowing us to recognize and realize the concomitant cognitive benefits, will be discussed from a neuroscientific and lifestyle perspective.
February 15: Beyond the Cognitive Map: The Brain’s Navigation System and Its Involvement in Memory Disorders and Imagination
Professor Douglas Nitz
Decades ago, one of the first cognitive scientists, Edvard Tolman, argued that rat brains hold within them a “cognitive map” of the environment. This suggestion, provocative at the time, has proven true. The main components of the system have since been identified and found as well in humans. New research shows that this same system forms the basis for episodic memory formation and that damage to the system accompanies Alzheimer’s Disease. Further, new work also shows that this system contributes to imagination and concept formation.
March 1: Advancing Collective Innovation
Professor Steven Dow
Society’s most daunting problems call for new strategies that engage many diverse stakeholders in order to solve bigger and messier problems. While the Internet makes it easy to find and coordinate people, we need to advance knowledge and technologies for “collective innovation,” in which groups collectively explore and refine solutions for big problem areas. To explore this, Professor Dow’s research group contributes novel interactive systems to better understand (1) how to productively select and build on the most promising ideas; (2) how to effectively engage in large-scale participatory design by gathering feedback from communities; and (3) how to engage citizens in decision-making processes related to civic issues. To guide and motivate the design of these
March 15: Making Sense of Time
Professor Rafael Núñez
Time is a fundamental dimension of human experience. Yet it is elusive and abstract, for we cannot perceive it directly through our senses in the way we perceive color, texture, or heat. How do humans make sense of time? We will discuss some of the cognitive and linguistic resources for imagination that we deploy to make sense of temporal experience, which manifest via spatial metaphors such as “the week ahead looks great” (future) and “way back, in my childhood” (past). Empirical research shows that such time-space mappings appear to be universal across world cultures but that there are also striking variations, which provide deep insights into the human mind and its diversity.
Gedeon Deák is a Professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego. He received his BA from Vassar College and his PhD from the University of Minnesota. He is an American Psychological Society fellow and former National Academy of Education post-doctoral fellow.
Andrea A. Chiba is a Professor of Cognitive Science and the Program in Neuroscience at UC San Diego. She is also a co-founder of the Global Science of Learning Education Network. Her laboratory team’s research spans from brain properties of learning and plasticity to the brain-body balance involved in pro-social behavior.
Douglas Nitz began his career in neuroscience as a graduate student at UCLA examining brain mechanisms responsible for REM sleep. His area of study turned to the issue of spatial cognition during his post-doctoral work at the University of Arizona . Nitz’s interests in spatial cognition continued during his 10 years leading a laboratory at the Neurosciences Institute with Nobel Prize winner Gerald Edelman. Since 2008, Nitz has worked as a Professor in the Cognitive Science Department at UCSD and is now chair of the Department.
Steven Dow is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego, Director of the ProtoLab research group, and a member of the Design Lab. He conducts research on human-computer interaction, social computing, and creative cognition and seeks to improve communities’ abilities to creatively solve their own challenges. Dow received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2015 for research on “advancing collective innovation.”
Rafael Núñez is a Professor of Cognitive Science and director of the Embodied Cognition Laboratory at UCSD. He is particularly interested in high-level cognitive phenomena such as conceptual systems, abstraction, and inference mechanisms, and the biological and cultural phenomena that make them possible. His book, Where Mathematics Comes From: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics Into Being (with UC Berkeley linguist George Lakoff), proposes a new theoretical framework for understanding the human nature of mathematics and its foundations.
1/18/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
2/1/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
2/15/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
3/1/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
3/15/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Included with membership, no registration required.