Building on the foundation of the previous lecture, I will shape the window on cognition into a lens through which seemingly elusive problems may be rendered conspicuous. I will present experimental evidence that the transition from non-conscious mental processing to conscious awareness is in essence a decision. The experiment uses Libet’s mental chronometry, so it also touches on the topic of free will and responsibility.
A decision is a deliberative process that leads to a commitment to a categorical proposition or plan of action. For example, a jury takes time to weigh evidence for alternative interpretations before settling on a verdict. In this lecture I will describe advances in our understanding of how deliberation is implemented in the brain. A common framework, termed bounded evidence accumulation or bounded drift-diffusion, accounts for the speed, accuracy and confidence of perceptual decisions, and this computational framework is supported by a common set of neural mechanisms.
Over the past two decades, my colleagues and I have documented many differences in the cognitive and social abilities of human children and their nearest great ape relatives. In this talk, I attempt to bring these studies together into a coherent theory of the ontogeny of uniquely human psychology. For each of eight uniquely human developmental pathways - four cognitive and four sociomoral – there are two key transitions: one at 9 months (joint intentionality) and one at 3 years (collective intentionality).
Michel Maharbiz is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and a Co-Director of the Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Maharbiz's research interests include building micro/nano interfaces to cells and organisms and exploring bio-deprived fabrication methods. His long term goal is to understand developmental mechanisms as a way to engineer and fabricate machines.