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Our memories and ability to understand and interact with the world are defining features of who we are. This evening begins with dispatches from the cutting edge of research into how memory formation occurs and can be enhanced in humans. Then in a fascinating twist, a computer scientist shows how he is using insights from artificial intelligence to understand human cognition
Opening Windows of Opportunity for Enhancing Memory
Prof Katherine Duncan (Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology,University of Toronto)
Memories chronicle our lives -- from our triumphs, to our regrets, to cherished moments with loved ones -- when woven together they form the basis of our identities. But memory is also fickle, with its failures all too often leaving us uncertain and frustrated. But why do we remember some experiences and not others, and can anything be done to improve our memory? One approach which my lab uses to answer these questions is based on the ‘neurochemical context’ of neurons. I will discuss some recent work which asks whether these neurochemical states can also be used to enhance memory in humans.
Understanding brains using artificial intelligence
Prof Blake Richards ( Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences (Scarborough) and Associate Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR))
Although birds and planes fly using very different mechanisms, the same general principles of aerodynamics apply to both natural and artificial flight. Is the same true for intelligence? In this talk, I will argue that there are, in fact, general principles of intelligence that apply equally to brains and computers. I will give an overview of some of these principles. I will also describe how these principles are helping my lab to apply theoretical insights from artificial intelligence in order to better understand the brain.