CMBC Lunches

Spring 2018 Lunch Series

Taking the Lead on Motivation: Predictive Processing and Reinforcement Learning | Julia Haas | February 27, 2018

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Taking the Lead on Motivation: Predictive Processing and Reinforcement Learning

Julia Haas (Department of Philosophy, Rhodes College)

 

Proponents of Predictive Processing (PP) describe it as a grand unifying theory of the mind (Hohwy 2014, Clark 2015). However, the relationship between PP and its closest rival, reinforcement learning (RL), is controversial. Unificationists about PP sometimes argue that active inference can account for core features of RL (Friston et al. 2009). Anti-unificationists reject this and defend explanatory pluralism as the most promising avenue for scientific progress (Colombo and Wright 2016). Haas argues for an intermediate position: even if RL is a special case of Bayes-optimal inference, it remains better suited to explaining motivation -- and failures of motivation -- than its more abstract counterpart (Dayan and Abbott 2001, Trappenberg 2002, Woodward 2014, Klein 2016).

Julia Haas is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at Rhodes College. She was previously a McDonnell Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy - Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis. Haas's research is in the philosophy of cognitive neuroscience. She particularly focuses on theories of valuation and decision-making. Her most recent work examines the mechanisms underlying normative cognition and constraint. 

Haas previously served as the Managing Editor of The Neuroethics Blog, which was recently cited in the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

 Limited seating by reservation only. Opportunities to register will be announced.

Mindful Brains: Neuroscience, Adolescence, and the Cultivation of Resilience | Suparna Choudhury | March 6, 2018

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Mindful Brains: Neuroscience, Adolescence, and the Cultivation of Resilience

Suparna Choudhury (Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University)

 

Mindfulness meditation is being advocated as a promising new educational, clinical and social intervention for youth, fuelled by new evidence from neuroscience about the benefits of "growing the brain through meditation", convergent with recent data on developmental neuroplasticity. Although still marginal and in some cases controversial, secular programs of mindfulness have been implemented with ambitious goals of improving attentional focus of pupils, social-emotional learning in children with mental disorders and not least to intervene in problems of poverty and incarceration. Choudhury will present data from interviews with teachers and mentors working with young people using mindfulness education and discuss the tensions arising from their moral reframing of social problems associated with poverty and inequality.

Suparna Choudhury is an Assistant Professor at the Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University and an Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research. She did her doctoral research in cognitive neuroscience at University College London, postdoctoral research in transcultural psychiatry at McGill and most recently directed an interdisciplinary research program on critical neuroscience and the developing brain at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin. Her current work investigates the production and dissemination of biomedical knowledge -- in particular cognitive neuroscience -- that shapes the ways in which researchers, clinicians, patients and laypeople understand themselves, their mental health and their illness experiences. Dr Choudhury's research focuses primarily on the cases of the adolescent brain, cultural neuroscience and personalized genomic medicine.

 

Limited seating by reservation only. Opportunities to register will be announced.

Self-Consciousness and Authenticity in Dance and Developmental Psychology | Lori Teague| Alejandro Abarca | Philippe Rochat | March 22, 2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Self-Consciousness and Authenticity in Dance and Developmental Psychology

Lori Teague (Department of Dance, Emory University)

Alejandro Abarca (Department of Dance, Oxford College)

Philippe Rochat (Department of Psychology, Emory University)

 

Perspectives from dance professionals and professors (Teague and Abarca) on the issue of self-consciousness and the quest for authenticity will be discussed in light of developmental research on the origins of self-concept (Rochat). A developmental blueprint of self-awareness will be presented (Rochat), alongside somatic approaches to dance training, grounding the discussion in what might be the foundations of what we perceive as authentic movement in the context of daily social interactions (Rochat) and in dance performances (Teague and Abarca). The concept of "presence" as opposed to "absence" will be tentatively discussed as a potential subjective benchmark of what we perceive as authentic: something that is direct and devoid of self-consciousness, producing "a flow," "a fullness," "a groundedness" from within.

Limited seating by reservation only. Opportunities to register will be announced.