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.


Feb 2  

13:00 - 14:00

Minds as Machines - Origins of the Idea
Dr 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.

Zoom ID: 995 9914 7252

Passcode: 9127


Dr 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.

Zoom ID: 924 5933 2203

Passcode: 0793

Feb 23

13:00 - 14:00

Consciousness, neural complexity and integrated information
Dr Adam Barrett

What is it that is special about the kind of brain activity that generates consciousness (subjective experience)? How conscious we are is not really to do with how many neurons are active, or how intensely our neurons ‘fire’. In this talk I review an exciting body of theory and experiments from the last couple of decades that suggests the special thing is ‘dynamical complexity’ – the presence of many distinct patterns in our brain waves, and at the same time lots of information flow between different brain regions. This reflects how complicated each moment of our experience is, and that we have a vast repertoire of possible experiences. The talk will include an accessible account of Integrated Information Theory, which claims to have a mathematical formula for describing the consciousness of any physical system. I explain why this formula doesn’t work as stands, but that nevertheless this theory has brought us a lot.

Pev1 1A6

Zoom ID: 949 4207 1751

Passcode: 4301

Mar 9


13:00 - 14:00

Proto-declaratives in the lab and in nature
Prof David Leavens

In this talk, I argue that protodeclarative communication is widespread in the animal kingdom


Pev1 1A6

Zoom ID: 931 0168 5781

Passcode: 0928

Mar 16

13:00 - 14:00

Heart, Brain, Mind
Prof Hugo Critchley

Prof Critchley will talk about heart timing effects in interoceptive research


Pev1 1A6

Zoom ID: 944 2899 0563

Passcode: 5946

Mar 30

13:00 - 14:00

Synaesthesia as a Model System for Understanding Variation in the Human Mind and Brain
Prof Jamie Ward

During this talk, I will seek to reposition synaesthesia as model system for understanding variation in the construction of the human mind and brain. People with synaesthesia inhabit a remarkable mental world in which numbers can be coloured, words can have tastes, and music is a visual spectacle. Synaesthesia has now been documented for over two hundred years but key questions remain unanswered about why it exists, and what such conditions might mean for theories of the human mind. I will argue that we need to rethink synaesthesia as not just representing exceptional experiences, but as a product of an unusual neurodevelopmental cascade from genes to brain to cognition of which synaesthesia is only one outcome. Rather than synaesthesia being a kind of 'dangling qualia' (atypical experiences attached to a typical mind/brain) it should be thought of as unusual experiences that accompany an unusual mind/brain. Specifically, differences in the brains of synaesthetes support a distinctive way of thinking (enhanced memory, imagery etc.) and may also predispose towards particular clinical vulnerabilities. It is this neurodiverse phenotype that is an important object of study in its own right and may explain any adaptive value for having synaesthesia.


Pev1 1A6

Zoom ID: 943 3710 9057

Passcode: 8292

Apr 27

13:00 - 14:00

Embodied Minds
Prof 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)

Pev1 1A6

Zoom ID: 972 0708 4795

Passcode: 1972

May 4

13:00 - 14:00

Predictive Minds
Prof Andy Clark

Biological brains are increasingly cast as ‘prediction machines’: evolved organs that help us perceive and act in the world by using stored knowledge to predict the incoming sensory signal. Operating over multiple time-scales and including inward-looking predictions concerning our own bodily states, this framework is currently being used to understand not just perception but also action, affect, planning, and decision-making. It also claims – with some justification – to be well-suited to explaining embodied, situated, and even extended cognition. This talk introduces the general framework, raises a few questions, and ends by asking what the new picture suggests concerning the fundamental nature of our perceptual contact with the world.

Chichester 1 Lecture Theatre

Zoom ID: 943 7808 8971

Passcode: 0173

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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