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THE SOCIAL SYNAPSE: Neuroscience and the roots of human connections

Friday, June 2, 2017
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm EST

We humans work together on enormous scales, build complex tools as large as cities, and create social networks that span the globe. What is the key to this innately social profile? How did it evolve? This program will examine the development of the human brain — and the brains of other animals — asking how neurons and synapses orchestrate communal behavior and guide group interactions, demonstrating how our social nature is key to our humanity.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


John DonvanABC Correspondent

John Donvan was just named a 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his bestselling book, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, published in 2016 by Crown Books. He is also host of the Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates, which are heard on public radio and by podcast.

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Louise BarrettAnthropologist

Louise Barrett was trained in both ecology and anthropology and is currently Professor of Psychology and Canada Research Chair in Cognition, Evolution & Behaviour at the University of Lethbridge. She ran a long-term project on baboons in South Africa for twelve years.

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Agustín FuentesAnthropologist

Agustín Fuentes, trained in Zoology and Anthropology, is a Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. His research delves into the how and why of being human.

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Kevin LalandBiologist

Kevin Laland is Professor of Behavioural and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews, where he is a member of the Centre for Biological Diversity, the Centre for Social learning and Cognitive Evolution, the Institute for Behavioural and Neural Sciences, and the Scottish Primate Research Group.

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Kevin OchsnerNeuroscientist

Kevin Ochsner directs the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) Lab at Columbia University, which studies the brain bases of emotion, person perception, and self-control. Ochsner received a Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard and postdoctoral training at Stanford.

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Dietrich StoutEvolutionary Anthropologist, Paleolithic Archaeologist

Dietrich Stout is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Emory University, and Associate Director of the Emory’s Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture. He received his Ph.D. in Paleoanthropology from Indiana University, Bloomington.

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