Keynote Speakers

Decoding the Time Course of Conscious and Unconscious Operations
Stanislas Dehaene
Collège de France and INSERM-CEA Cognitive
Neuroimaging Unit, France

Dehaene is a recipient of the 2014 Brain Prize

Stanislas Dehaene has dedicated his prolific career to exploring uniquely human cognitive functions, such as numeracy, language, reading, and consciousness. A former mathematician, he pioneered the field of numerical cognition: using neuroimaging techniques, Dehaene was the first to identify the regions of the brain that are responsible for numeracy, calculations, and other aspects of the so-called “number sense.” In order to pursue his research on numerical cognition, The James S. McDonnell Foundation awarded him a million-dollar Centennial Fellowship, one of only 10 worldwide, in 1999. In addition to being a foremost authority on numerical cognition research, he is arguably its best communicator: Dehaene received the top prize for French popular science writing, the Prix Jean Rostand, for his 1997 book, La Bosse des Maths (The Number Sense). In 2003, he was a co-recipient of France’s top scientific honor, the Fondation Louis D. Award of the Institut de France, and he became the youngest faculty member at the prestigious Collège de France when he was selected for the newly created Chair of Experimental Psychology position in 2005. His exceptional work has even drawn the attention of The New Yorker, which profiled Dehaene in 2008. Not content to revolutionize just one area of cognitive research, he has more recently brought his mathematical expertise to bear on the subject of consciousness, developing a computational model, supported by an array of neuroimaging studies, that links the subjective conscious experience with its neural correlates. Dehaene now is conducting research on a variety of subjects, including comatose patients, young children, and animals, in the hopes of further refining these neural signatures of consciousness.

More About Stanislas Dehaene

Books about the brain: ‘Ha!,’ ‘Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love’ and ‘Consciousness and the Brain’, The Washington Post

Your Brain on Books, Scientific American


NUMBERS GUY, The New Yorker

Not the Mystery it Used to Be, APS Observer

Does Our Innate Ability to Estimate Numbers Benefit From Education?, APS Observer

Lecture by Dr. Stanislas Dehaene on "Reading the Brian", Chan Centre (video)


How Brains Think: The Embodiment Process
George Lakoff
Departments of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley, USA

George Lakoff is a world-renowned cognitive linguist whose innovative theories changed the way scientists examine the connection between mind and body. Though a linguist by training, Lakoff is a pioneer in the multidisciplinary theory of the embodied mind, the idea that higher-order aspects of cognition are rooted in and constrained by bodily features such as the motor and perceptual systems. Lakoff’s Neural Theory of Language, which describes how the physical (i.e., chemical reactions within our highly structured brains) inexorably gives rise to the ineffable (complex conceptual thought and language), reaches beyond the area of linguistics to provide groundbreaking insights into the realms of neuroscience and cognitive psychology as well. Introduced in his book Philosophy of the Flesh this integrative theory has been consistently borne out by empirical evidence, and the idea of the embodied mind forms the theoretical basis for much of today’s social psychology research.

One of Lakoff’s most compelling lines of study in this field is his metaphor theory, in which he asserts that metaphor is not just a linguistic construction but a conceptual one, a mental mechanism that allows us to understand complex aspects of our experience in more accessible physical or social terms. In this interdisciplinary framework, outlined in his highly influential book Metaphors We Live By, “time is money” is not just a proverb; it is a metaphor that shapes our understanding of the abstract concept of time as a valuable but limited commodity, one that can be saved, spent, wasted, or invested. Lakoff has applied this revolutionary idea to a variety of other disciplines, including philosophy, mathematics, and politics. He has famously posited that most Americans understand country through the metaphor of family and that the divide between conservatives and liberals arises from a fundamental disagreement over what type of “parenting style” the government should practice. This work and his insight into morally based framing, in which ideas are conveyed using very specific language that is tied to a larger conceptual framework such as freedom or equality, have made him a go-to strategist for politicians, and his political acumen has earned Lakoff the moniker “the father of framing” as well as an influential platform in The Huffington Post, to which he contributes frequently. A past president of the International Cognitive Linguistics Association, George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972.


Young Children’s Self-control and the Health and Wealth of Their Nation
Terrie E. Moffitt
Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy,
Duke University, USA

When it comes to understanding antisocial and criminal behaviors, Terrie E. Moffitt, one of the leading voices in psychological science, takes the long view. In addition to directing the Environmental-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, which began in 1994 and follows 1,100 British twins and their families, she is Associate Director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study in New Zealand, another ongoing longitudinal study that started in 1972. Through these studies, Moffitt has been able to link adult antisocial outcomes to their childhood origins. Her seminal dual taxonomy of antisocial and criminal behavior divides those who exhibit these behaviors into a “life-course persistent” group, whose early-life antisocial behaviors persist throughout adulthood, and an “adolescence-limited” group, who eventually reform as they become adults. This trailblazing theory was one of the most influential in the field of criminology and has earned Moffitt a litany of awards, including the prestigious Stockholm Prize in Criminology in 2007. She has been a pioneer in other lines of her research as well: her groundbreaking gene-environment interaction studies were the first in all mental health research to show how certain environmental conditions (in this case, maltreatment during childhood) can predict vulnerability to particular adult outcomes (antisocial and violent behavior) only in the presence of a specific genotype (a MAOA gene polymorphism). Gene-environment interaction has since become a vibrant and important field of study in behavioral research, with Moffitt still at the forefront, incorporating principles and techniques from neuroscientific research and observational epidemiology to try to elucidate the root causes of antisocial behavior and other mental disorders.

More About Terrie E. Moffitt

Temperament at 3 Predicts Unhealthy Gambling at 32, The Wall Street Journal

Study: Moody Toddlers Could End Up as Compulsive Gamblers, Education Week

General Psychopathology Factor May Describe Structure of Psychiatric Disorders, APS

Blood Vessels in the Eye Linked With IQ, Cognitive Function, APS

Charting Human Experience, GenomeLife

Life Courses, GenomeLife

Terrie Moffitt interviewed by Brendan Dooley, American Society of Criminology (filmed at the National Academy of Sciences) (video)

2010 Ruane Prize for Childhood Psychiatric Disorders (video)

Avielle Foundation Introduces Scientific Advisory Board That Will Guide, Prioritize Funding of Brain Health Research to Identify Underpinnings of Violence, The Wall Street Journal