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Björn Brembs

  1. Date: March 27, 2014. 19:00
    Location: CCU Auditorium

    Speaker: Björn Brembs.

    No-one can deny our intense feelings of being the authors of our own actions, gifted with freedom to decide according to our own will. These feelings are as real as the colors we see. And yet, just as colors, they exist only in our heads. Perhaps we really are just automata passively responding to external stimuli, despite our definite, yet subjective, conviction of the contrary?
    Just as in the case of colors, to answer this question, it is necessary (but not sufficient) to investigate not our subjective feelings directly, but whether or not we can find scientific evidence justifying such qualia. The transduction of different wavelengths of light into different neural activity patterns in the eye and brain provides evidence that colors are not illusions, but a way how our mind handles a component of sensory processing. However, the neurobiology fails to explain our subjective perception of light as, e.g. 'red’.
    In this presentation, I will try to outline different lines of evidence that our feelings of authorship are not (entirely) illusionary, but might be understood as a way our minds handles certain components of motor processing. I will draw largely from experiments in invertebrates to argue that we indeed can attribute agency to even simple animals and that any lack thereof would likely result in an evolutionary disadvantage.
    It is conceivable that the processes we now start to understand in invertebrate animals may have formed the evolutionary nucleation point for the complex set of neurobiological processes we have come to collectively call “free will” in humans.
    Entrance is free and subject to availability. There will be no seat reservations for “Attributing Agency: Towards a scientific concept of Free Will”. Seats will be given on a first come first serve basis.

    About SeminAr:

    The SeminAr is a different format of events from those that Ar frequently hosts. The Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme receives regularly visiting scientists from all over the world to interact with the researchers from the institute. Everytime the situation is favorable we will host a small scale event, during which one of these scientists will present their work to the general public. These events generally consist of just one talk preceded by a small introduction

  2. Host:

    Alex Gomez-Marin