Monday, August 12, 2013

The Mind Report - Laurie Santos and Tali Sharot on Optimism and More

On this week's episode of The Mind Report, Laurie Santos and Tali Sharot, author of The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain (2012), talk about optimism, neurobiology, choosing, and a whole lot more.

Tali Sharot is the principle investigator at Affective Brain Lab:
I am the director of the Affective Brain Lab (funded by a fellowship from the Wellcome Trust) and a faculty member of the department of Cognitive Perceptual and Brain Sciences at UCL. 
My lab investigates how motivation and emotion determine our expectations of the future, our everyday decisions, our memories and our ability to learn. By understanding the brain mechanisms that mediate these effects we aim to identify ways to encourage behavioural change that enhance well-being. I am interested in questions such as when and how do other people influence our decisions and judgments? why do we process information in a biased manner? when, how, and why do people deceive themselves? how do these process go awry in depression?

Laurie Santos is Director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory at Yale University.
My research explores the evolutionary origins of the human mind by comparing the cognitive abilities of human and non-human primates.My experiments focus on non-human primates (in captivity and in the field) incorporating methodologies from cognitive development, cognitive science, and animal learning. My research examines the following broad questions: what domains of knowledge are unique to the human mind? Given that human infants and non-human primates both lack language, what similarities and differences do we see in the expression of non-linguistic domains of knowledge?

My current work explores whether primates possess precursors to a theory of mind, how primates reason about different kinds of things (foods, artifacts, and animals), and whether primates share human-like decision-making biases.
Cool discussion.


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