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December 6-7, 2013
New York University

***Note change of location due to high response. Friday sessions will be in Hemmerdinger Hall (Silver Center, 100 Washington Square East). Saturday sessions will be in Greenberg Lounge (Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South).

Those planning to attend should register at On Friday, participants should check in first in Silverstein Lounge (next to Hemmerdinger Hall, just inside the entrance to the Silver Center on Waverly Place). Bring ID for the NYU security at the entrance.***

This Friday-Saturday, 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, the Human Connectome Project, and the Allen Brain Atlas. What can mapping the brain tell us about the human mind? What are the ethical implications? These issues will be discussed by leading 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 Hemmerdinger Hall (Silver Center, 100 Washington Square East) and the Greenberg Lounge (Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South) 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 and Felipe De Brigard (Duke), Rafael Yuste (Columbia), Anthony Zador (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories).

Conference website:

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 Allen Brain Atlas (funded by the Allen Institute for Brain Science), 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: Silver Center (100 Washington Square East, enter on Waverly Place or Washington Place)

12:15pm Coffee and Check-In (Silverstein Lounge)

1pm Conference Opening (Hemmerdinger Hall)
Thomas Carew (Dean, NYU Faculty of Arts and Sciences)

1:15pm The Science behind the Initiatives (Hemmerdinger Hall)

Rafael Yuste (Columbia)
The Brain Activity Map: Implications for Science and Society

Sean Hill (Lausanne)
The Human Brain Project: An Overview

Anthony Zador (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories)
Sequencing the Connectome

3:45pm Coffee (Silverstein Lounge)

4:15pm Philosophers on the Initiatives (Hemmerdinger Hall)

Patricia Churchland (UC San Diego)
Cross-Level Linkages in Neurobiology: Why Naysaying Philosophers Should be Very Afraid

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Felipe De Brigard (Duke)
What Can the BRAIN Initiative Teach Us About Cognition?

6pm Reception (Silverstein Lounge)

SATURDAY DECEMBER 7 (Greenberg Lounge, Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South)

9am Coffee

9:30am Theoretical Issues

Cori Bargmann (Rockefeller)
How Many Maps of the Brain Do We Need?

Gary Marcus (NYU)
Beyond Hubel and Wiesel

Anthony Movshon (NYU)
Structure and Function in Systems Neuroscience

12 noon Lunch

1:30pm Ethical Issues

Nita Farahany (Duke)
Privacy, Self, and the Brain

Anders Sandberg (Oxford)
Being Nice to Virtual Babies and Animals: The Ethics of Large Scale Neural Simulations

3:10pm Coffee

3:40pm Panel Discussion

6pm Close


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