Centre for Cognitive Science (COGS)

Open lectures

These lectures are open to all members of the University, regardless of School, Department, degree or year, who are interested in learning more about cognitive science, and will be of particular interest and relevence to Informatics first- and second-year undergraduates, new Masters and PhD students, COGS IDP students, and students of neuroscience, psychology and philosophy. About half of the lectures explore historical themes, while the remainder describe cutting-edge research in the area.


Oct 9  

Minds as Machines - Origins of the Idea
Blay Whitby

Modern Cognitive Science emerged as an interdisciplinary science in the second half of the 20th Century. In many ways this was a highly fruitful combining of ideas, activities, and scientific disciplines which had drifted apart. Although some of these ideas date back to classical Athens it was the development of modern computer technology - roughly in the period 1936-1958 - that inspired a new science of the mind and radical new ways of doing psychology (and psychiatry). This lecture takes an historical perspective on that period and on some of the people from many various and different areas who inspired the birth of Cognitive Science.

Pevensey 1 1A6

13:00 - 14:00

Oct 16

Blay Whitby

So-called Good Old Fashioned Artificial Intelligence may not be seen as the cutting edge of research nowadays but it is still important and effective. This history of GOFAI tracks its development from experimental and ‘way-out’ ideas to a technology which is now seen as a routine component of modern computing - and, just as important, an important insight into human thinking.

Chichester 1 Lecture Theater

13:00 - 14:00

Oct 30

What in the World is Consciousness?
Anil Seth

Consciousness is, for each of us, the presence of a world. Without consciousness there is no world, no self: there is nothing at all. But we know surprisingly little about the material and biological basis of this most central feature of our lives. How do rich multisensory experiences, the senses of self and body, and volition, agency, and ‘will’ emerge from the joint activity of billions of neurons locked inside a bony skull? Once the province of philosophy and theology, understanding consciousness has now re-emerged as a major scientific challenge for this century. In this talk we will take a tour of this new science of consciousness, with a focus on what neuroscience has to offer. I will distinguish between conscious level (how conscious we are), conscious content (what we are conscious of), and conscious self (the specific experience of being you), describing in each case how new experiments are shedding light on the underlying neural mechanisms, in normal life and in neurological and psychiatric conditions. Throughout, I will emphasize phenomenology – the way things seem – as the target for any satisfying explanation of how the brain, in conjunction with the body and the environment, gives rise to and shapes conscious experience.

To learn more, go to: https://neurobanter.com/2018/09/03/resources-for-newcomers-to-consciousness-science/ 

Chichester 1 Lecture Theatre

13:00 - 14:00

Nov 13

Autonomic control, interoception, and experience
Hugo Critchley

The internal state of our bodies influence how we experience ourselves and the external environment. With a focus on the phasic signals that accompany individual heartbeats, I will discuss evidence implicating the autonomic control and interoceptive representation of physiological state as a correlate of mental effort, a basis for affective feelings, and substrate of self-representation. Embodiment of mental processes underpins the experience of perceiving and acting on the world. Knowledge about the brain mechanisms supporting interoception informs our understanding of normative conscious processes and of how psychiatric symptoms arise through their disorder.

Chichester 1 Lecture Theatre

13:30 - 14:30

Dec 11

Localization of cognitive functions in the brain: from phrenology to connectomics 
Jamie Ward 

The extent to which different regions of the cortex are specialized for different cognitive functions has endured for nearly two centuries. This lecture will give an historical overview as to how different scientific methods have tackled this problem and drawn somewhat different conclusions. The lecture will then go on to consider whether contemporary descriptions of cognition as dynamic networks of information flow are incompatible with the idea of localisation of cognitive function. In fact, functional specialisation is an emergent feature of these architectures. This is illustrated with the examples of how/where the brain processes culturally learned symbols such as letters and numbers.

Pevensey 1 1A6


Mar 18

[POSTPONED] Embodied Minds
Andy Clark

Biologically evolved intelligence makes the most of brain, body, and world. This talk looks at the resulting complexity, and highlights some of the unexpected advantages of solutions that span multiple levels of organization (neural, bodily, worldly) and that take shape at multiple time-scales (evolution, development, learning).

Chichester Lecture Theatre


Apr 29

[POSTPONED] The Predictive Mind
Andy Clark


Chichester Lecture Theatre


Please mention COGS and COGS seminars to all potentially interested newcomers to the university.

A good way to keep informed about COGS Seminars is to be a member of COGS.  Any member of the university may join COGS and the COGS mailing list by using the subscription form at http://lists.sussex.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/cogs.

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