Lecture to Probe the Brain, Personhood

Originally posted: April 4, 2011

Tom Fikes, Westmont professor of psychology and neuroscience, will lecture about “Brains, Persons and Relationality: The New Social Neuroscience” at a free, public lecture on Thursday, April 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the University Club, 1332 Santa Barbara St. Tickets are not needed, though seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please call (805) 565-6051.

The talk will explore what it means to be a human person. “The neurosciences (and natural sciences in general) traditionally focus on the role of the brain in answering this question, whereas the social sciences and humanities more often look to interpersonal relationships,” Fikes says.

Fikes says the emerging field of social neuroscience offers ways of reconceiving personhood that merge these various traditions, emphasizing both the embodied, physical underpinnings of our soulishness and the fundamental and constitutive role of interpersonal relationships.

“I’ll explore some recent work in social neuroscience, including EEG imaging during social interactions in our laboratory,” Fikes says.

Fikes, who has been teaching at Westmont for 13 years, focuses his research on perception and learning in humans and rats. He contributed to “NeuroTheology: Brain, Science, Spirituality, Religious Experience” and “Evolutionary Psychology as Computational Theory in the Cognitive Sciences” in Journal of Psychology and Theology.

The lecture is part of Westmont Downtown: Conversations about Things that Matter, which is sponsored by the Westmont Foundation.


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