Guest lectures on Timing, Cognition and Neuroscience, May 27 and 28

We are proud to invite you to two guest lectures next week on Timing, Cognition and Neuroscience.

Speaker: Charles R Gallistel, Rutgers University, Center for Cognitive Science
Charles R. Gallistel is Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science and codirector of the Center for Cognitive Science at Rutgers University. He has received the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists and he has been appointed William James Fellow of the American Psychological Society and a is a Member National Academy of Sciences. His books include The Organization of Learning and Memory and the Computational Brain: Why Cognitive Science Will Transform Neuroscience. Gallistel is known for his criticisms of the associationist view of learning and he has argued that neurones, in addition to strenghtening or weakening associations, can form representations of quantities such as proportions and time.

1. Role of Timing in Cognition

Date: Tuesday May 27 2014 at 13:15 – 14:30
Venue: A121, Språk- och litteraturcentrum (SOL-centrum)

The hippocampus is known to play an important role in the formation of memories. Recent work shows that pyramidal cells in the hippocampal pyramidal cells signal the animal’s location in both time and space. Eichenbaum (TICS, 2013) recently concluded that “the fundamental function of the hippocampus is to establish spatio-temporal frameworks for organizing memories.” This leads me to revisit a speculative thesis from 25 years ago about the role of spatio-temporal encoding in the unity of remembered experience (Org of Learning, Chap 15): Computational considerations and neurobiological results imply that different aspects of the same experience are extracted by different computational modules. The thesis is that memories are stored in this fragmented way (color in one place, shape in another, etc) and unified at recall by means of obligatory spatio-temporal indices. I give details on this proposal and review behavioral, neuropsychological and neurobiological evidence for it.

2. Memory and the Computational Brain: Why Cognitive Science will Transform Neuroscience

Date: Wednesday May 28 2014 at 14:15 – 15:30
Venue: GK-salen, Biomedicinskt Centrum (BMC)

That the brain computes is now widely accepted in psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science. However, it is also widely believed that the brain computes in a manner fundamentally different than the manner in which a computer computes, because the brain is thought to lack a read-write memory, which is an essential component of a conventional computing machine. Computation is fundamentally about the composition of functions. In this talk, based on a recent book coauthored with Adam KIng, I explain the simple considerations that necessitate a read-write memory in any device capable of composing functions of two-or-more variables whose values are specified at different times. I review examples of simple animal behaviors that require such composition (course setting, for example). I argue that these considerations imply that an addressable read-write memory mechanism must be at the heart of the brain’s computational capability. The discovery of the read-write mechanism will transform neuroscience, much as the discovery of the molecular basis of the gene transformed biology, because memory is as central to computation as DNA is to life.

Contact information
Dan-Anders Jirenhed, Assistant Researcher
Associative Learning
Dept. of Experimental Medical Science