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God, Brain and Mind

Neuroscience is increasingly finding clear links between neural mechanisms within the brain and human actions, behaviour and thought. This raises questions about what it means to be human and the nature of belief and choice.

These questions will be explored in a lecture hosted by the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion today, Tuesday 27 April.

Bill Newsome, Professor of Neurobiology at Stanford University and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences will deliver the lecture entitled 'God, Brain and Mind'.

Professor Newsome's research focuses on the neural mechanisms underlying visual perception, visually based decision making, and related issues in cognitive neuroscience. He seeks to understand how higher mammals acquire sensory information about the world, how that information is processed within the brain, and how behavioural responses to that information are organized.

In doing so he tackles difficult questions such as: are we the sum of our neurons, do our brains shape us, or do we shape our brains and is freedom of choice an illusion?

Professor Newsome received a degree in physics from Stetson University and then went on to receive a PhD in biology from the California Institute of Technology and did postdoctoral research at the National Eye Institute.

He was later on the faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook before moving to Stanford. He has won several awards; his honours include the Rank Prize in optoelectronics, the Spencer Award from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association, and the Dan David Prize from the Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University.

The lecture will take place at the Howard Theatre, Downing College, Cambridge at 5:30pm and will be followed by free refreshments and a bookstall.

The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion (see the link above right) provides accurate and up-to-date information to help inform and improve public understanding of the interaction between science and religion.

The Institute is ideally placed to make academic research accessible to the public through close links with a network of experts from diverse disciplines including astrophysics, geology, neuroscience, genetics, evolutionary biology, theology and history and philosophy of science.

Article written by the University of Cambridge Press Office.

Posted on 27/04/2010

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