November 1, 2013
By S. Matthew Liao
THE BRAIN MAPPING INITIATIVES: FOUNDATIONAL ISSUES
December 6-7, 2013
Jurow Lecture Hall, Silver Center Room 101
100 Washington Square East
New York University
On December 6-7, New York University will host a conference devoted to foundational issues raised by recent brain mapping initiatives, such as the BRAIN initiative, the Human Brain project, and the Human Connectome Project. What can mapping the brain tell us about the human mind? What are the ethical implications? These issues will be discussed by leading cognitive neuroscientists and philosophers.
The conference is co-sponsored by the NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness and the NYU Center for Bioethics. It will be held in the Jurow Lecture Hall on the ground floor of the Silver Center (east side of Washington Square, entrance at 31 Washington Place) from 1pm Friday December 6 through 6pm Saturday December 7.
Organizing Committee: Ned Block, David Chalmers, S. Matthew Liao, Gary Marcus.
Speakers: Cori Bargmann (Rockefeller), Patricia Churchland (UC San Diego), Nita Farahany (Duke), Sean Hill (Lausanne), Gary Marcus (NYU), Anthony Movshon (NYU), Anders Sandberg (Oxford), Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Duke), Rafael Yuste (Columbia), Anthony Zador (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories).
Conference website: http://bioethics.as.nyu.edu/object/brain
Background: Earlier this year, President Obama announced funding for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, which aims to develop new technologies to map neural activity throughout the brain in non-human animals and ultimately in humans. The initiative complements other major brain mapping projects, including the Human Brain Project (funded by the European Union), whose aims include developing technology to simulate a human brain, the Human Connectome Project (funded by the National Institute for Health), which aims to map the connectivity of the human brain, and the Allan Brain Atlas, which aims to map gene expression in the mouse and human brains.
These brain mapping initiatives raise numerous foundational questions. Some questions are epistemological: what can brain mapping tell us about states of the mind? Some questions are theoretical: how can brain mapping data be integrated with psychological theories? There also profound ethical questions: for example, what are the implications of brain mapping for privacy and for the control of behavior? The conference will discuss all these questions in depth.
Registration is free but required. You can register at
FRIDAY DECEMBER 6
12:30pm Coffee and Registration
1pm Conference Opening
1:15pm The Science behind the Initiatives
Rafael Yuste, Sean Hill, Anthony Zador
4:15pm Philosophers on the Initiatives
Patricia Churchland, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
SATURDAY DECEMBER 7
9:30am Theoretical Issues
Cori Bargmann, Gary Marcus, Anthony Movshon
12 noon Lunch
1:30pm Ethical Issuies
Nita Farahany, Anders Sandberg
3:40pm Panel Discussion