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Event Detail (Archived)

On the Neural Circuits of Social Cognition

Event Details

Friday Lecture Series
Winrich Freiwald, Ph.D., associate professor and head, Laboratory of Neural Systems, The Rockefeller University

Some animal species possess large and complex brains, and it is often these animals who are capable of amazing behavioral feats that strike us as intelligent. It seems intuitive that complex functions should require complex structures, but this poses an immense challenge for neuroscience whose greatest successes yet have been achieved with simple circuits. A solution can be found within the domain of social cognition. This is because, in support of what might be the most challenging of problems to solve—the understanding of others—primate brains have evolved specialized neural circuits. Dr. Freiwald will describe an approach taken to uncover networks of the primate social brain supporting a diverse set of functions from social perception to action, and the insights gained from investigating their functions. Faces are a key player in this story. Not only do faces provide a wealth of social information, they also are active agents who activate processes deep inside emotional, mnemonic, and cognitive brains, and they are important effectors in the social interactions of a visual species.

Dr. Freiwald performed his graduate work at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and received his Ph.D. from Tübingen University in 1998. He then joined the Institute for Brain Research at the University of Bremen as a research assistant. Starting in 2001, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study in Delmenhorst, Germany. He was head of the primate brain imaging group at the Centers for Advanced Imaging and Cognitive Sciences in Bremen from 2004 to 2008 and a visiting associate at the California Institute of Technology in 2009. He joined The Rockefeller University as assistant professor in 2009 and became an associate professor in 2016. Dr. Freiwald has been named a Sinsheimer Fund Scholar, a Pew Biomedical Scholar, a McKnight Scholar, and a New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Neuroscience Investigator. He also received a Klingenstein Fellowship, the Irma T. Hirschl/Monique Weill-Caulier Trusts Research Award, the W. Alden Spencer Award, and most recently, the Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize.

Justin Sloboda
(212) 327-7785
Open to
Charles D. Gilbert, M.D., Ph.D.
Refreshments, 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m., Abby Lounge
Justin Sloboda
(212) 327-7785

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