February 08, 2011


By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Jose Carmena will give the talk, "Neural Adaptations to a Brain-machine Interface," Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the University's Social Science Colloquium series, "Emerging Minds: Seeking Meaning in a Physical World."

Carmena is the principal investigator with the Brain-Machine Interface Systems laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley, where he also serves as an assistant professor of electrical engineering, cognitive science and neuroscience.

"I will give an introduction to the field of cortical brain-machine interfaces (BMI), powerful tools that use brain-derived signals to control artificial devices such as computer cursors and robots," Carmena said of his upcoming talk. "I also will give a summary of exciting results from our lab showing that the brain can consolidate prosthetic motor skill in a way that resembles that of natural motor learning. This will be followed by an outline on the emerging directions the field is taking towards the development of neuroprosthetic devices for the impaired."

AI and robotics
Carmena holds bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Valencia as well as a master's degree in artificial intelligence and a doctorate in robotics from the University of Edinburgh.

He has been the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Sloan Research Fellowship, the Okawa Foundation Research Grant Award, the UC Berkeley Hellman Faculty Award, and the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Key scholars, new perspectives
"This yearlong series is exploring the nature of the mind with talks by key scholars," said series coordinator Joseph Tranquillo, assistant professor of biomedical and electrical engineering at Bucknell.

"Questions about the nature of our minds and identities have been posed for millennia. Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, technological and scientific advances have enabled the ancient questions about mind and self to be revisited in new ways," Tranquillo said.

"The result of these cross-disciplinary studies has been the emergence of new perspectives on a wide range of issues including the relationship between the brain as an organ and the mind as a concept, the existence of a universal human nature, the production and appreciation of art, the boundaries of our free will, the goals of our health and education systems, and the extent to which our behavior is motivated by evolutionary imperatives."

The final event in the "Emerging Minds" series is a talk on March 10 by neuroscientist David Eagleman, who will discuss neuroscience and the law.

Contact: Division of Communications

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