By Dr. Ausaf Farooqui, Senior Investigator Scientist, MRC-Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge.
Date: Friday, March 8, 2019
Place: Rm. A-130, FEASS building
Title: Limits to Reduction: How to study Control in Cognition?
Abstract: Our goals are typically achieved through task episodes –– extended periods of thought and behavior during which our mind is focussed on a goal and undertakes a series of steps to achieve it (e.g. preparing breakfast, giving a talk, writing emails etc.). Control of thought and behavior to keep them in line with our goals is a key aspect of goal directed cognition. The dominant tendency in current neuroscience is to study this control by isolating the very many cognitive processes that constitute our goal-directed behavior (e.g. attention, working memory, executive processes), with the hope that control across extended tasks can be understood by studying these smaller constitutive control processes.
In this talk I will show that understanding both behavior and neural activity during extended tasks requires that we take into account, hitherto unrecognized, cognitive entities that correspond to the whole task episode, and that these cognitive entities cannot be reduced to constitutive simple control processes. I will show that failure to appreciate these entities has the led the field into erroneous notions about the Default Mode regions and the neural correlates of consciousness.
Bio: My first degree was in medicine after which I did a masters in neuroscience from the National Brain Research Center. I completed my PhD from the University of Cambridge, and have been working there since as a Medical Research Council Investigator Scientist. My research is focussed on conceptual issues related to Cognitive Control, Consciousness and Fronto-Parietal regions.