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Framing Research for the Future (Part 2)

5th September 2018 (7pm)

The ‘Framing Research for the Future‘ series, is asking how a triangulation of seeing, feeling and doing can help construct a fresh approach to research. Gonçalo Lopes returns in this second evening of investigation, bringing together insights from neuroscience, robotics, and biology. All are welcome and no prior knowledge is needed.
How do we recover when the unexpected strikes? What is the function of the mammalian motor cortex; why has it grown so large? Does the motor cortex hold stories, or mental models that enable mammals to quickly adapt to moments of surprise in their environment.


As a software engineer turned neuroscientist, Gonçalo has demonstrated the need to re-evaluate the role of the motor cortex as a foundation for understanding intelligence and the development of Artificial Intelligence. In this session he will continue to explore and explain his ideas on how cortex might have departed from rationality into storytelling, and how that exodus has played a unique role in shaping the human mind.

We will gain first-hand insight into the pioneering hardware and software tools that made it possible to study more naturalistic motor behaviour in rodents: Tools that quickly reconfigure the physical and virtual environment whilst simultaneously tracking in real-time fine-scale measurements of motor performance. We will explore the contention that the apparatus used and method of inquiry are not neutral.
We’ll have access to material by way of illustration. Lopes will draw and explain the theoretical underpinning and shape of the new framing and give us his personal call to fresh research and action.
Through video demonstration and stimulating discussion points, participants will contribute to a collective conversation and take away ideas for their own practice.
Is there such a thing as a visceral grasp of reality? Intelligence is to maximise some utility in terms of what is valuable to you – what new questions can we ask, with the kind of hardware and software tools that Lopes and others now use? How is my worlded body represented in my brain?
THECUBE is looking forward to hosting this workshop together with the ‘Beyond the brain’ collective from Central Saint Martins MA Art&Science degree. If you are interested in attending, please sign up here. As always, this event is free of charge.
Gonçalo is a software engineer turned neuroscientist, fascinated by the behaviour of intelligent systems. With a background of applied research in virtual and augmented reality, parallel processing and autonomous agents, he joined the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme in 2010, hoping to find better ways of building machines that learn by themselves. Gonçalo completed his PhD with Adam Kampff and Joe Paton, trying to understand the role of motor cortex in the control of movement in non-primate mammals. Along the way, he extended his experience making interactive systems to rodents and other animal models. Gonçalo developed the Bonsai visual programming language as a way to rapidly prototype interactive neuroscience experiments.
Lopes’ collaboration with Adam Kampff continues as a member of Kampff Labs.
The Kampff Labs study intelligent systems.Their goal is to identify the general principles of brain function that support intelligent behaviour and to implement them in machines. Specifically, they focus on how the brain constructs a representation of the environment: How is this representation learned? How is it encoded in the activity of neural networks? How is it used to control adaptive behaviour? We are now testing novel devices for simultaneously recording from large populations of neurons throughout the brain. These devices are built with modern techniques for microfabrication (CMOS) and have the potential to record the electrical activity of thousands of individual neurons simultaneously.