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Neuroscientist Mike Shadlen To Speak On The Human Process Of Decision Making

STONY BROOK, N.Y., February 15, 2007Dr. Michael Shadlen, a Howard Hughes Institute Investigator and one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, will explore the process of how the brain makes decisions, at Stony Brook University’s annual Swartz Foundation Mind/Brain Public Lecture Series at the Staller Center on Monday, March 12, at 4:30 PM.

In his talk titled ‘How the Brain Decides: Uncovering the Secrets of Cognition,’ Shadlen will discuss the brain mechanisms that are critical to the process of human decision-making. The principles of normal brain function revealed by that study present a potential path to new treatments for neurological disorders affecting cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and perception.

Dr. Shadlen is Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington. He received his B.A. in biology and his M.D. from Brown University, and his Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley. He completed his residency training in neurology at Stanford University Medical Center and returned to research as a Howard Hughes postdoctoral research fellow in William Newsome's laboratory at Stanford.

The Swartz Foundation’s Mind/Brain Lectures are designed to bring leading researchers in neurobiology before the University community. Its purpose is to communicate the latest brain science insights and advances in understandable terms to an audience that includes non-scientists. The Lecture Series was established by Dr. Jerome Swartz in 1997. “Computational neuroscience—the convergence of evolution and physics, which integrates traditional neurobiology, mathematical physics, computer science, and systems analysis—drives the research activities supported by our Foundation and is a frontier that continues to fascinate me,” said Swartz.

The 10 previous Swartz Foundation Mind/Brain lecturers are leading researchers in a range of developing aspects of neuroscience: Antonio Damasio, who proved that emotional and logical processing are equally crucial to decision making; Terrence Sejnowksi, a pioneer and leader in the newly emerging computational neuroscience; Michael Gazzaniga, who discovered left brain/right brain theory in the 1970’s; Paul Churchland, a philosopher who critiques reliance on “common sense”; Michael Merzenich, a leading expert on learning disabilities and plasticity theory; V.S. Ramachandran, well-known for his work in evolutionary psychology; Joseph LeDoux, an expert on sleep and the fear system of the brain; Chuck Stevens, who explained how the brain’s circuitry is more powerful than a computer’s; Daniel Wolpert, who pursues studies related to the brain and human motor performance; and Helen Fisher, who has explored how romantic love is hard-wired into the brain.

Stony Brook’s President Shirley Kenny believes that advanced research in neuroscience and the related cross-functional curricula needed to train future generations are critical to developing this path of human understanding. “Greater knowledge of the fundamental principles of how the brain works will create new career paths in both med tech and high tech,” said Kenny.

Stony Brook University is one of the leading public research institutions in the world. One of only 10 universities awarded a National Science Foundation recognition award for integrating research and education, Stony Brook is also one of only 16 Leadership Institutions selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The University co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, joining Princeton, Cornell, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and the University of California-Berkeley as the only institutions involved in a research collaboration with a national laboratory. Additional information about the University can be found at and at

The Swartz Foundation was established by Dr. Jerome Swartz in 1994 to support research on basic principles and mechanisms of brain function through the application of physics, mathematics and computer engineering to theoretical neuroscience, as a path to better understanding the brain/mind relationship. The Foundation’s Computational Neuroscience Centers include UC San Diego, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Columbia University, Princeton University and Yale University, and, in partnership with the Sloan Foundation, five Centers for Theoretical Neurobiology at The Salk Institute, Cal Tech, NYU/Courant, Brandeis, and UC San Francisco. Additional information about The Swartz Foundation can be found at

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