Brain Day 2017 Abstracts

William Seager (Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto Scarborough)

The Brain, Consciousness and the Deep Structure of Matter

Although vast progress has been made, we are far from a complete understanding of the brain. But, how far? Philosophers - and not just philosophers - face three basic questions here. First, does understanding the brain require us to go beyond the chemistry and physics which underlie the "neuron doctrine"? Second, is there any general and comprehensive theory of what the brain is doing? Third, can we understand and explain consciousness in terms of brain science?
I am conservatively optimistic about the first two questions, but the problem of consciousness seems to represent a difficulty of another order, one which may force us to rethink our conception of matter itself.

Marisa Carrasco (Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, Cognition & Perception, Center for Neural Science & Center for Brain Imaging, New York University)

How Attention Modulates Perception

Attention allows us to select relevant sensory information for preferential processing. I will discuss effects of attention on early visual processes. I will present psychophysical and fMRI studies regarding the effects of endogenous (voluntary) and exogenous (involuntary) covert attention –the selective processing of visual information without eye movements– on the perception of basic visual dimensions.  Specifically, I will show how contrast sensitivity increases at the attended location at the expense of reduced sensitivity at unattended locations, and discuss these results in reference to a normalization model of attention. I will also discuss links between psychophysical and neurophysiological findings of the effects of attention on spatial resolution. 

More to follow soon !


Waterloo researchers among top in Canada

Chris Eliasmith writing on a whiteboardChris Eliasmith, Director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, received the prestigious John C. Polanyi Award  and is also an inaugural member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists.

How to Build a Brain

Chris Eliasmith’s team at the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience has built Spaun, the world’s largest simulation of a functioning brain. The related book is now available and for the full article Waterloo Stories.


This is a collection of coverage of work with Nengo (Neural Engineering Objects) that has appeared in the popular press recently.