CNS Talk Series

Penn’s Center for Neuroscience and Society presents the 2012-2013 Neuroscience & Society Public Talk Series. Unless otherwise noted, the lectures take place from 4:30-6 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, are followed by a reception and are open to the public. Since seating is limited, anyone interested should RSVP at

Wednesday, October 24
First Annual GVR Khodadad Endowed Lecture
Prosocial Primates: Selfish and Unselfish Motives

Frans de Waal, Department of Psychology, Emory University and Yerkes National Primate Research Center
Location: Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall (3417 Spruce St.)

Frans de Waal is CH Candler Professor, Emory University and Director of Living Links Center at the Yerkes Primate Center. Professor de Waal’s first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982) compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimps to that of human politicians.  Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture.  His latest book is The Bonobo and the Atheist(Norton, Spring 2013).

November 1
Do Politics Shape the Perception of Race?: Evidence from the Brain and Behavior 

David Amodio, Department of Psychology, New York University
Location: Room 214, Gittis Hall (3400 Chestnut St.)

David Amodio, PhD is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University, and directs the NYU Social Neuroscience Laboratory. Dr. Amodio’s research examines the psychological and neural mechanisms of intergroup relations and self-regulation. Amodio has been recognized for his work with awards such as the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the Janet T. Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science, the Early Career Award from the International Social Cognition Networkand the SAGE Young Scholars Award from the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology.

December 6
Brain Rumors: Public (Mis)understanding of Neuroscience and Why It Matters 

Location: Room 214, Gittis Hall (3400 Chestnut St.)

February 7
Magic or Tragic?: The Use of Animals in Research

Colin Blakemore, Department of Physiology, University of Oxford
Location: Room 240A, Silverman Hall (34th and Chestnut Sts.)

Colin Blakemore‘s body of work is concerned with many aspects of vision, the early development of the brain and plasticity of the cerebral cortex. He aims to define the developmental errors that underlie cognitive disorders, such as autism, dyslexia and schizophrenia. Another area of his research analyzes the brain’s capacity to reorganize sensory areas of the cortex during selective attention, information integration, and after the onset of blindness. Blakemore also has continuing research devoted to the cellular pathogenesis of Huntington’s disease.

Dr. Blakemore was awarded the Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize for his exemplary ability to communicate science to the public, and is described by the Royal Society as, “one of Britain’s most influential communicators of science”. He has written a number of books for general readership, including Mechanics of the Mind, for which he won the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. He is also the author of Images and UnderstandingMindwavesThe Mind MachineGender and Society and The Oxford Companion to the Body.

March 7
Brain Training-Current Challenges and Potential Resolutions

Susanne Jaeggi, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland
Location: 240A, Silverman Hall (34th and Chestnut Sts.)

Susanne Jaeggi is one of the best-known proponents of working memory training – the controversial idea that we can improve intelligence by training working memory. Her work has been the focus of great scientific interest as well as media attention, and is cited by companies who sell “brain training” software. Her current research is aimed at understanding the relation between working memory and intelligence at the behavioral and neural level. She is currently the director of the Working Memory and Plasticity Laboratory at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Jaeggi is the recipient of both the Pfizer Research Award in Neuroscience and the Haller Medal for Scientific Excellency by the University of Bern, Switzerland.

April 4
Health Inequalities in Society as a Problem for Neuroscience

Peter Gianaros, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh
Location: 240A, Silverman Hall (34th and Chestnut Sts.)

Peter Gianaros studies the links between socioeconomic status, stress and health. Why do poor people suffer with more chronic diseases and die at younger ages? Psychosocial stress is a big part of the answer, and of course psychosocial stress must be transduced by the brain before it can affect the body.

Gianaros has pioneered the use of functional and structural neuroimaging to understand how poverty raises the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as other facets of physical and mental health. He co-directs the Hearts and Mind Project at the University of Pittsburgh and is the recipient of numerous awards including the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Early Career Scientific Contribution to Psychology.

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