Season 3 October 20-30th 2011

What Does the Brain Do? Questioning Perception, Consciousness and Free Will

Tuesday, April 12th   |   6:00pm   |   Round-table   |   The Institute for Public Knowledge

Co-presented with the Institute for Public Knowledge and Harper's Magazine

Neurosciences can provide unexpected insights into free will by questioning how we see, hear and feel. To what extent do our decisions, thoughts and actions depend on our perceptions? Perhaps the best way to understand what the brain is doing is by studying what happens when it breaks down.

This debate will center around two individuals whose neurological problems are discussed in Oliver Sacks’s recent book The Mind’s Eye: Susan Barry, a neurobiologist who lived in a two-dimensional world until as an adult she regained stereoscopic vision and Howard Engel, a mystery writer who can write, but no longer read. Israel Rosenfield, who has written extensively about memory, and Edward Ziff, who researches brain plasticity, will engage them in a discussion with a group of neuroscientists: Pascal Mamassian, who researches the brain’s visual deciphering of our environment, Rodolfo Llinas, who studies the brain rhythms that underlie consciousness, and Luc Steels, who employs artificial intelligence to study the genesis of language.

Tickets: Free
20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor, 10003 New York
What Does the Brain Do?

Susan Barry

Andrew J. Barry

Howard Engel


Rodolfo Llinas

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Pascal Mamassian

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Israel Rosenfield

Catherine Rosenfield

Luc Steels

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Edward Ziff

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“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”  Isaac Newton