Events and Conferences

Free Public Lecture: Christof Koch on the Biology of Consciousness

October 24, 2012

Dr. Christof Koch, Cognitive and Behavioral Biology, Caltech & CSO of the Allen Brain Institute, will be speaking at SFU on "The Biology of Consciousness." This lecture is part of the Fall 2012 President's Dream Colloquium on the  Emergence and Complexity of Life.

Lecture Abstract
At the beginning of the third millennium, scientists seek to understand how subjective, phenomenal conscious sensation emerge from highly organized brain matter. I will summarize what is known about the anatomy and physiology of consciousness, outline the limits to our knowledge, and describe ongoing experiments in humans, monkeys and mice that seek to characterize the neuronal correlates of consciousness.

I will describe the most promising theoretical approach, grounded in circuit complexity and information theory, and what it implies about consciousness in natural and synthetic systems.

Born in the American Midwest, Christof Koch grew up in Holland, Germany, Canada, and Morocco, where he graduated from the Lycée Descartes. He studied physics and philosophy at the University of Tübingen in Germany and was awarded his PhD in Biophysics in 1982.

After four years at MIT, Dr. Koch joined Caltech in 1986, where he is the Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology. In 2011, he became the CSO of the Allen Institute of Brain Science in Seattle to lead a large scale, focused and high-throughout, ten year effort to understand cortex. He loves dogs, Apple Computers, rock-climbing, trailing running in the mountains and biking.

The author of more than three hundred scientific papers and journal articles, patents and books, Dr. Koch studies the biophysics of computation, and the neuronal basis of visual perception, attention, and consciousness. Together with Francis Crick, with whom he worked for 16 years, he is one of the pioneers of the neurobiological approach to consciousness.

His latest book is Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist (MIT Press, 2012).

For additional background, see a recent Scientific American interview: "Christof Koch on Free Will, the Singularity and the Quest to Crack Consciousness."

If you'd like a sneak peek of his engaging presentation style, see the video below, from the Singularity Summit.

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