The Being Human Conference, which looks at the science behind the human experience, presents this session on "Perception and Sensations.""
Richard J. Davidson
Richard J. Davidson is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, Founder and Chair and the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984.
He has published more than 275 articles, many chapters and reviews and edited 13 books. He has been a member of the Mind and Life Institute's Board of Directors since 1991. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research including a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Award, a MERIT Award from NIMH, an Established Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD), a Distinguished Investigator Award from NARSAD, the William James Fellow Award from the American Psychological Society, and the Hilldale Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He was the Founding Co-Editor of the new American Psychological Association journal EMOTION and is Past-President of the Society for Research in Psychopathology and of the Society for Psychophysiological Research. He was the year 2000 recipient of the most distinguished award for science given by the American Psychological Association - the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. In 2003 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2004 he was elected to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.
He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2006. In 2006 he was also awarded the first Mani Bhaumik Award by UCLA for advancing the understanding of the brain and conscious mind in healing. Madison Magazine named him Person of the Year in 2007. In 2011, he was given the Paul D. MacLean Award for Outstanding Neuroscience Research in Psychosomatic Medicine. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig from 2011-2017 and as Chair of the Psychology section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 2011-2013. His forthcoming book (with Sharon Begley) The Emotional Life of Your Brain will be published by Penquin in 2012.
R. Beau Lotto
Beau Lotto is founder of Lottolab, a hybrid art studio and science lab. With glowing, interactive sculpture - and good, old-fashioned peer-reviewed research - he's illuminating the mysteries of the brain's visual system.
Beau Lotto's color games puzzle your vision, but they also spotlight what you can't normally see: how your brain works. This first-hand look at your own versatile sense of sight reveals how evolution tints your perception of what's really out there.
"Let there be perception," was evolution's proclamation, and so it was that all creatures, from honeybees to humans, came to see the world not as it is, but as was most useful. This uncomfortable place - where what an organism's brain sees diverges from what is actually out there -is what Beau Lotto and his team at Lottolab are exploring through their dazzling art-sci experiments and public illusions. Their Bee Matrix installation, for example, places a live bee in a transparent enclosure where gallery goers may watch it seek nectar in a virtual meadow of luminous Plexiglas flowers.
The studio’s work, the brain-like (that is, multidisciplinary) organization includes large-scale public engagement works. It's holding regular "synesthetic workshops" where kids and adults make "color scores" - abstract paintings that computers interpret into music, as with scrolls fed to a player piano. These and Lotto's other conjurings are slowly, charmingly bending the science of perception and our perceptions of what science is. "All his work attempts to understand human perception as a system defined, not by its essential properties, but by its past ecological interactions with the world. In this view, the brain evolved to see what proved useful to see, to continually redefine normality."
Beau Lotto’s research and installations have been featured on, not one but two BBC Horizon programmes. The first was aired in 2010 and was reported to be the most popular Horizon for over a decade. The promo spot on BBC’s homepage received the most hits of any item on the BBC page for many ears – 1,000,000 after only 3 hours. The second programme will air in Autumn 2011. Beau has also been a TED speaker. Speakers in his session included Gordon Brown and Stephen Fry. Lotto teaches at University College London.
He received a Ph.D. from Edinbergh's Medical School in cellular and molecular developmental neurobiology, and was a research fellow at Duke University.
V.S. Ramachandran is a neurologist best known for his work in the fields of behavioral neurology and psychophysics. He is currently the Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego. He is also the author of several books including Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind (1998) and The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientists Quest for What Makes Us Human (2010).
Ramachandran initially obtained an M.D. at Stanley Medical College in Madras, India, and subsequently obtained a Ph.D. from Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He has since been called "The Marco Polo of neuroscience" by Richard Dawkins and "the modern Paul Broca" by Eric Kandel. Newsweek Magazine named him a member of "The Century Club," one of the "hundred most prominent people to watch" in the 21st century.
Fundamental dispositions and traits of humans. Theories about the nature of humankind form a part of every culture. In the West, debate has traditionally centred on whether humans are selfish and competitive (seeThomas Hobbes; John Locke) or social and altruistic (Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim). Recent research in genetics, evolutionary biology, and cultural anthropology suggests that humans may be both, and that there is a complex interaction between genetically inherited factors (nature) and developmental and social factors (nurture). Basic drives shared with other primates include food, sex, security, play, and social status. Gender differences include greater investment in reproduction and child-rearing among females, hence less risk-taking; and concomitantly less investment and greater risk-taking among males. See alsobehaviour genetics; Homo sapiens; personality; philosophical anthropology; sociobiology.