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Age Fearless: Independence Blue Cross presents One Day University (Philadelphia)

July 25, 2019 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM


9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
The Brain: What We Know (and what we don't)

Heather Berlin / Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

You are your brain, according to modern neuroscience, but how exactly do your thoughts, feelings, perceptions and sense of self derive from this three-pound organ locked inside the black box of your skull? Cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Heather Berlin has been seeking answers to those questions for decades, and finding surprising answers in the brains of people with psychiatric and neurological disorders. What happens in the brains of people who can't control themselves, or whose sense of self is fragmented, or lost entirely? By tracing the distinct brain circuits that give rise to her patients' disorders, Dr. Berlin is revealing the neurophysiology that makes each of us who we are.

Join us on a journey deep into the brain, the mind, and the self, as Professor Berlin reveals the startling and exciting recent findings of cutting-edge neuroscience. How does your brain accomplish spontaneous creativity? How much self-control or "free will" do we really have? And what does the future hold, once brains begin to integrate with "neural prosthetics"? Get to know your dynamic unconscious mind, a bigger part of "who you are" than you could ever guess, with Dr. Berlin as your guide.

Heather Berlin / Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Heather Berlin is a cognitive neuroscientist, Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Visiting Scholar at the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. She is a committee member of the National Academy of Sciences' Science and Entertainment Exchange, and host of the PBS series "Science Goes to the Movies," and the Discovery Channel series "Superhuman Showdown."Professor Berlin has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including a Young Investigator Award from the American Neuropsychiatric Association, the International Neuropsychological Society Phillip M. Rennick Award, and the Clifford Yorke Prize from the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society.

10:45 AM - 11:45 AM
The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will

Kenneth Miller / Brown University

Conflicts over the theory of evolution and its place in public education have roiled the United States for more than a century. While religious fundamentalism has been the driving force of this opposition, it is not alone in casting a wary eye on evolution. Some lament evolution as the "Death of Adam," and regard Darwinism as "a chilling doctrine" destructive to the human sense of self. In fact, even the most enthusiastic proponents of evolution, in their efforts to emphasize the biological origins of our species, contribute to a darkened view of humanity by minimizing the uniqueness of the human creature. We are referred to as an "accidental species," our emergence is regarded as an event of no particular importance, our position in the living world no more prominent than that of an iris, a giraffe, or a sea slug.

Is this view correct? Or, is there a fundamentally different way to look at the epic of our evolutionary past? Professor Miller believes there is, and will use evolution itself to argue that the human story describes not the "Death of Adam," but the ultimate triumph of our species in bringing consciousness and reason to the Cosmos itself.

Kenneth Miller / Brown University
Kenneth Miller is a professor of biology at Brown University. He has received 6 major teaching awards at Brown, the Presidential Citation of the American Institute for Biological Science, and the Public Service Award of the American Society for Cell Biology. In 2009 he was honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for Advancing the Public Understanding of Science, and also received the Gregor Mendel Medal from Villanova University. In 2011 he was presented with the Stephen Jay Gould Prize by the Society for the Study of Evolution.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
The Illusion of Attention: What We Miss When We Think We See Everything

Brian Scholl / Yale University

Our intuitions about how our minds work are fantastically poor guides to how our minds actually work. Nowhere is this more true than in the study of perception: seeing seems intuitively to be the fastest, most natural, and most effortless of mental activities -- something you do thousands of times every day while taking it for granted. Yet this ease masks a fascinating array of subtle processing beneath the surface of our conscious awareness.

This talk will illustrate several key themes from the science of how we see -- and how we sometimes fail to consciously perceive the world in front of us. We'll see demonstrations in which salient objects disappear right in front of your eyes, even as you carefully attend to them; demonstrations where solid real-world objects appear to morph and bend as you manipulate them; and demonstrations where simple geometric shapes irresistibly appear to be alive. These and other examples will illustrate how visual perception is far richer and more complicated than we might expect -- and how cognitive science can help us come to understand it.

Brian Scholl / Yale University
Brian Scholl is a professor of psychology at Yale, where he directs the Perception & Cognition Laboratory. He is a recipient of the 'Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology', and the 'Robert L. Fantz Memorial Award', both from the American Psychological Association. He is currently the only faculty member at Yale to have received both the major prize from the Graduate School, the 'Graduate Mentor Award,' and the major prize in the social sciences from Yale College, the 'Lex Hixon Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences.'


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