The Thoughtful Animal

APS Day 3


I am exhausted. Today was a very long conference filled day followed by a very long baseball game at Fenway Park. My labmate, who is a bit of a baseball freak, in a moment of sheer brilliance, bought us STANDING ROOM ONLY tickets for the game. And so we stood. For >3 hours. My feet hurt. At least the Red Sox won. Plus it was pretty cool to see Fenway Park.


Figure 1: The view from our standing-room only area.

So here’s the tweet rundown from today. I think everything is pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll go easy on the commentary. Also, have I mentioned I’m tired?

We’ll start with the end – a talk by Leslie Ungerleider, an NIMH researcher, on the functional architecture of facial recognition in the primate brain.

  • Leslie Ungerleider about to take the stage. She initially theorized the dual-route theory of visual cognition. #apsconv about 8 hours ago via txt
  • Unilateral amygdala lesions eliminates processing of emotion expressions in faces, but not face processing more generally. #apsconv about 7 hours ago via txt

A talk by Daniel Wegner of Harvard, called “Is Anyone Home? How We Decide What Has A Mind.” This was a fascinating talk, and I will have thoughts on this, probably, at a later date. It was at this talk that I met a lovely reader by the name of Chelsea.

  • Daniel Wegner: how do we decide what (or who or when) has a mind? #apsconv about 10 hours ago via txt
  • Wegner: no mind unless it’s perceived? Do we think minds into existence? #apsconv about 10 hours ago via txt
  • Humans are good at attributing minds where there are none, but also blatantly ignoring or at least discounting evidence of minds. #apsconv about 10 hours ago via txt
  • Wegner: religious people want something & may think of god. Non-relig want something & think of google. #apsconv about 9 hours ago via txt

And a talk by Daniel Ansari called “The Calculating Brain: The Roles of Development and Individual Differences”

  • Why study mental arithmetic? Early math skills strong predictor of later acad achievement. Dyscalculia – dev prob w/ calc & number #apsconv
  • Adult lesion and fmri studies dominate this field. What about kids & indiv diffs? #apsconv about 13 hours ago via txt
  • Left angular and supramarginal gyri critical for calc (for reading too! Interesting) about 13 hours ago via txt
  • Fmri: Age-related increases in left temporoparietal. Decreases in prefrontal & hippocampus. Shift: online calc/encoding to retrieval. #a … about 13 hours ago via txt
  • DTI evidence also supports relationship btw angular and parahippocampal gyri about 13 hours ago via txt
  • Why is temporoparietal network implicated in reading & math? Maybe symbol-referent mapping. #apsconv about 12 hours ago via txt

I also got the chance today to meet the puppeteer behind @PsychScience, and we started a good conversation about psychology in the blogosphere, which I expect will continue in coming days and weeks. Expect good things to come!


  1. #1 canuck_grad
    May 30, 2010

    Have you read Wegner’s “The Illusion of Conscious Will”? It was pretty interesting, I’m sure his talk would have been as well!

  2. #2 Chelsea
    May 31, 2010

    It was great meeting you, Jason! I’m taking one last day to sightsee around Boston, an then it’s home again for me too. The Wegner talk was great– I was especially intrigued by his notion that “there is no mind unless it is perceived”. Interesting how those old-as-time philosophical debates tend to re-emerge in “newer” scientific disciplines like neuroscience, eh? I’m looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on that talk.

    Until the next conference…