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By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University's "Emerging Minds" series will continue during the spring 2011 semester with talks by Jose Carmena and David Eagleman.
The talks in the Social Science Colloquium, "Emerging Minds: Seeking Meaning in a Physical World," are free and open to the public.
On Feb. 22, Jose Carmena will discuss neural adaptations to a brain-machine interface. Carmena is principal investigator with the Brain-Machine Interface Systems laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley, where he also serves as assistant professor of electrical engineering, cognitive science and neuroscience.
Carmena will give an introduction to the field of cortical BMIs, a summary of lab results showing that the brain can consolidate prosthetic motor skill in a way that resembles that of natural motor learning, and an outline on the emerging directions the field is taking towards the development of neuroprosthetic devices for the impaired.
On March 10, neuroscientist David Eagleman will speak about neuroscience and the law. Eagleman holds a joint appointment in the departments of neuroscience and psychiatry at the Baylor College of Medicine. His research areas include time perception, vision, synesthesia and the intersection of neuroscience with the legal system.
Eagleman has written several neuroscience books, including Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia (co-authored with Richard Cytowic, MIT Press) and The Secret Life of the Unconscious Brain (Pantheon, 2011), as well as an internationally best-selling book of literary fiction, Sum.
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."
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