Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mind Reading: Human Origins and Theory of Mind

From the Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA), a joint project of UC San Diego and the Salk Institute, this is an excellent series of videos (each about 20 minutes) on Theory of Mind (the understanding that what you think and feel is different from what I think and feel, and to make inferences based on that awareness).
The Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny* (CARTA) began as a collaboration between faculty at UC San Diego and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, along with interested scientists at other institutions. CARTA became a UC San Diego recognized Organized Research Unit (ORU) in January 2008. 
As the word anthropogeny implies, the primary goal of CARTA is to “explore and explain the origins of the human phenomenon.” In other words, finding the answers to the two age-old questions regarding humans:
  • Where did we come from?
  • How did we get here?
CARTA is a virtual organization formed in order to promote transdisciplinary research into human origins, drawing on methods from a number of traditional disciplines spanning the humanities, social, biomedical, biological, computational & engineering and physical & chemical sciences. 
*Anthropogeny: The investigation of the origin of man (humans) Oxford English Dictionary, 2006. First used in 1839 edition of Hooper's Med. Dict. and defined as "the study of the generation of man."
I'm not sure I have the order correct, but they are order (and listed below) in what seems a logical progression.

Mind Reading: Human Origins and Theory of Mind

Part One:
CARTA Co-Director Ajit Varki welcomes the public and researchers to the CARTA symposium on Mind Reading: Human Origins and Theory of Mind. Recorded on 10/18/2013. Series: "CARTA: Mind Reading: Human Origins and Theory of Mind"

Part Two:
Ralph Adolphs (Caltech) provides an overview on how best to define Theory of Mind, how to relate it to other similar terms, and how to study it. He closes by speculating on what aspects of mindreading might be unique to humans.

Part Three:
For many years, Tetsuro Matsuzawa (Kyoto Univ) has studied chimpanzees both in the laboratory and in the wild. In this talk he presents several examples of "mind reading" in chimpanzees based on his research in the lab and observations in the field.

Part Four:
A key feature of human social interactions is the ability to make inferences about other individuals' mental states (e.g. others' knowledge, beliefs and desires). Juliane Kaminski (Univ of Portsmouth, UK) reviews studies which investigate whether the cognitive capacities underlying these skills are uniquely human or shared, at least to some degree, with other species.

Part Five:
Jessica Sommerville (Univ of Washington) reviews evidence to suggest that, within the first year of life, infants develop an understanding of transient mental states (such as goals and desires), enduring personal dispositions (such as preferences), and socio-moral norms (such as fairness norms), that is driven by their own actions on the world, as well as their interactions with other people.

Part Six:
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (Univ College London) discusses how the social brain, that is, the network of brain regions involved in understanding others, develops during adolescence. Adolescence is a time characterized by change -- hormonally, physically, psychologically and socially. Yet until fairly recently, this period of life was neglected by neuroscience.

Part Seven:
Over the past two decades, research investigating the neural basis of social abilities suggests that the human brain has dedicated systems for understanding other minds. Jason Mitchell (Harvard Univ) reviews this brain imaging work and discusses the implications for the unique aspects of human social cognition.

Part Eight:
Wrap-Up: Terry Sejnowski
Post a Comment