What Brains Are For:

The evolutionary advantage of consciousness

Media:  Talk    

Nov. 13, 2012

Byens Lys

Albert Gjedde

Head of the institute for Neuroscience and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen. His research focuses on the inner workings of the brain, from neural transmitters to consciousness. Prof. Gjedde was awarded the Danish prize of science communication in 2012.

SØS Gunver Ryberg

SØS Gunver Ryberg works with experimental electronic music and sound art. She creates intense turmoil in the listener's mind. SØS constantly seeks to mix new forms of expression and new media such as installation art, multichannel speaker setups and performance art. Homepage

Some philosophers and neuroscientists worry about the need of brains. However, it is increasingly clear that the fundamental role of brains is to serve motion. Locomotion is a defining characteristic of animals as opposed to plants, and particularly so of humans.

Albert Gjedde will talk about why useful motion requires a plan that is derived both from a review of actual past reactions and a preview of possible future reactions to instances of the same movements. Decisions based on such an evaluation presumably improve the chances of ultimate reproductive success and reduce the risks of reproductive failure.

Review and preview both take place in conscious space and interestingly presume the existence of free will, subjectivity, and communication, the three elements of "agency" that underpin the ability of humans to use their brains to consciously impose a program of rational modification and improvement on the material world. The mystery is how agency can be understood without an unsatisfactory recourse to metaphysics.

After the lecture SØS Gunver Ryberg will present some of her sound works. Her universe of sound consists of field recordings and electronic sounds which transform into strong physical music. Reality raw sound framed by almost symphonic forms which acquire a unique expressivity with an insistent prospective timing.

And if you like this brain stuff, then you'll also like John Gray's "Straw Dogs" and Raymond Tallis' "Aping Mankind".

Entrance to the event is free. No registration is necessary. Doors open at 19:45. Organised by the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

The talk: