21 Nov 2016
Given that I binge-read blogs about SfN before going to my first one (I don’t know why. I just did), I thought I’d give back and write a bit about my experience. This SfN 2016 was set in San Diego, California. As years before, there were over 30,000 attendees. So, it was pretty intense. Prior to going I had discussions with SfN veterans (i.e. postdocs) at my university, so I thought I was prepared, but really it is pretty intense. So for first timers, here is my advice. It’s pretty general to any major conference.
25 Jul 2016
On Friday, the 22nd of July (exactly one year since I graduated from the University of Bristol!) I attended a first-year PhD students meeting at the Wellcome Trust. This meeting was for all 140 students funded on the Trust’s four-year phd programmes to gather together for advice, information and networking. The objective of the meeting was to highlight opportunities for us to think about, such as the Sir Henry Wellcome postdoctoral fellowships, public engagement opportunities and policy internships - and also provide a space for all the phd students to meet. I found the meeting very insightful and useful (much more than I expected!), taking away many pieces of advice and also having a good time meeting old friends and new people.
There is a theory in philosophy called “computational theory of mind” (CTM) which argues that the brain is literally a computer, or more specifically, a “computing system”. Separately, the brain has been commonly likened to a computer or information processor. Psychologist Robert Epstein has attacked this metaphor in a recent essay called “The Empty Brain”. However, the theory in which Epstein takes issue with is at times the information processing (IP) metaphor (which he names in the article), at times the CTM, and at yet other times, some strange straw-chimera. Epstein directly illustrates his conflation of the IP metaphor and CTM partway through: “The mainstream view is that we, like computers, make sense of the world by performing computations on mental representations of it”. In one statement, he both refers to the metaphor of the brain as a computer but also the notion of computing on representations, which is in part argued by the related/umbrella theory to CTM, representational theory of mind (RTM).
PhD Student in Neuroscience