Imaging Nature and Nurture in the Human Brain: From Psychosis, Aggression and Murder to Politics and Free Will

James Fallon
Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, Irvine

(June 10, 2008 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM)

Imaging Nature and Nurture in the Human Brain: From Psychosis, Aggression and Murder to Politics and Free Will

Abstract

The conscious volitional self in our brain perceives and interacts with the world through sensory, motor and cognitive systems that involve largely subconscious neural mechanisms. Experimental manipulations of these mechanisms reveal the brain's remarkable ability to adapt to changed conditions. The volitional self can also be extended through artificial devices, such as brain-machine interfaces, which exploit the brain's ability to incorporate prosthetic extensions. Accurate control of brainmachine interfaces depends on a combination of effective decoding algorithms and the brain's ability to adaptively modify its neural activity. Recently developed implantable recurrent brain-computer interfaces provide artificial feedback connections that the brain can learn to incorporate and that can also modify the brain's neural connections. This talk will explore these issues in light of current advances in neuroscience and neuroprosthetics.