On December 4 and 5, the NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness will host a conference on “Is the Brain Bayesian?”.
Bayesian theories have attracted enormous attention in the cognitive sciences in recent years. According to these theories, the mind assigns probabilities to hypotheses and updates them according to standard probabilistic rules of inference. Bayesian theories have been applied to the study of perception, learning, memory, reasoning, language, decision making, and many other domains. Bayesian approaches have also become increasingly popular in neuroscience, and a number of potential neurobiological mechanisms have been proposed.
At the same time, Bayesian theories have been controversial, and they raise many foundational questions. Does the brain actually use Bayesian rules? Or are they merely approximate descriptions of behavior? How well can Bayesian theories accommodate apparent irrationality in cognition? Do they require an implausibly uniform view of the mind? Are Bayesian theories near-trivial due to their many degrees of freedom? What are the implications of Bayesian theories for the relationship between perception, cognition, rationality, and consciousness?
All of these questions and more will be discussed at the conference. The conference will bring together both scientists and philosophers, and both proponents and opponents of Bayesian approaches, to discuss and debate a number of central issues.
Speakers and panelists will include: Jeffrey Bowers (Bristol), David Danks (Carnegie Mellon), Ernest Davis (NYU), Karl Friston (University College London), Weiji Ma (NYU), Larry Maloney (NYU), Eric Mandelbaum (CUNY), Gary Marcus (NYU), John Morrison (Barnard/Columbia), Nicoletta Orlandi (UC Santa Cruz), Michael Rescorla (UC Santa Barbara), Laura Schulz (MIT), Susanna Siegel (Harvard), Eero Simoncelli (NYU), Joshua Tenenbaum (MIT), and others.
The conference sessions will run from 9:30am to 6pm on Friday and Saturday December 4 and 5, 2015. Friday sessions will be in Kimmel Center 914 (60 Washington Square South) and Saturday sessions will be in Jurow Hall in the Silver Center (100 Washington Square East). Conference registration and coffee will begin at 9am both days. A full schedule will be circulated closer to the conference date.
Registration is free but required. Please register via the conference website at http://wp.nyu.edu/consciousness/bayesian/[wp.nyu.edu].
The NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness is devoted to foundational issues in the mind-brain sciences. For more information see http://wp.nyu.edu/consciousness/[wp.nyu.edu].
–Ned Block and David Chalmers (Directors, Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness).