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Dr. Christof Koch: "Consciousness:­ Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist"

WHAT LINKS CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE OF PAIN, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Neuroscientist Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. Koch recounts not only the birth of the modern science of consciousness but also the subterranean motivation for his quest—his instinctual (if “romantic”) belief that life is meaningful. Koch describes his own groundbreaking work with Francis Crick in the 1990s and 2000s and the gradual emergence of consciousness (once considered a “fringy” subject) as a legitimate topic for scientific investigation. Koch gives us stories from the front lines of modern research into the neurobiology of consciousness as well as his own reflections on a variety of topics, including the distinction between attention and awareness, the unconscious, how neurons respond to Homer Simpson, the physics and biology of free will, dogs, sentient machines, and Der Ring des Nibelungen.
This lecture will include an author book signing.

About Dr. Christof Koch:,
Christof Koch is an American neuroscientist working on the neural basis of consciousness. He is the Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology at California Institute of Technology, where he has been since 1986. In early 2011, he also became the Chief Scientific Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, leading their high through-put, large scale cortical coding project.

He received a PhD in nonlinear information processing from the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany in 1982. He then worked for four years at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. In 1986, he joined the newly started Computation and Neural Systems PhD program at Caltech.

This lecture series is sponsored by Dr. Michael Shermer's Skeptics Society.

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First come, first served at the door. Limited seating at 375.
$10 for nonmembers
$8 for Skeptics Society members and the JPL/CalTech community.
Your admission fee is a donation that pays for lecture expenses.

Baxter Hall. THIS LECTURE MAY SELL OUT! Stand in line by 1pm at the LATEST to ensure yourself a seat. This is a No-Host event.

Location and Parking Map:

Baxter Hall at CalTech in Pasadena. Free parking on weekends:

Early Dinner Together:

We will be joining the the Skeptics Society in their standing tradition of dinner together after the event, so
those of us who wish to take early dinner can meet Outside to the left side of the entry doors.

We have a wonderful group of interesting, nice people; so our social gatherings after these events are always so much fun... come join us!

Dinner is traditionally at Burger Continental. Click on this link for their menu:
535 South Lake Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101

A very nice extensive menu... their salad bar for $5.99 is outstanding!.. so delicious and a nice variety. Enjoy the meal and the wonderful company, everyone!

Join or login to comment.

  • Stu

    I attended this event before joining this group. Dr. Koch's work is on the cutting edge of scientific investigation of consciousness. His presentation was well organized, clear, and interesting. Nevertheless I can understand that people who don't understand what science is and who prefer motivational speakers could have been disappointed.

    June 14, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm sorry to hear this was a disappointment to some of you. Sometimes the speakers are great, sometimes, public speaking is not their thing. Hopefully the next lecture will be a good one for you all.

    May 14, 2012

  • Michael M.

    Brilliant man, I'm sure, however, his speaking tone was a rapid, texturless drone, making the material difficult to cognisise. Perhaps public speaking isn't where the brilliance resides.

    May 14, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sadly the speaker, who I suspect is very knowledgeable was totally unintelligible. I am taking into account that English is not his native language but nevertheless it is clear that he has never bothered to listen to a video of himself. Sadly I suspect that his professional collugues have not bothered to inform him exactly how poor his performance actually is.I am aware that academics feel that their real purpose is research, but having said that it is no excuse for not bothering to learn basic communication skills. Naturally they may not feel that public speaking is their main role
    but, in that instance, they should not waste other people time with attempting to give
    a talk when they dont feel it necessary to develop at least a very basic ability to do the same. Initially, I thought it was just me but this was the feeling of most people at dinner. I dread to think that he actually lectures students.

    May 14, 2012

  • Michael M.

    Would have loved to meet some of you, couldn't sit throught the whole lecture. The combination of tone, rythum and content was becoming painful to me. Sorry, next time maybe.

    May 13, 2012

  • Frank

    Sitting in the left side facing podium

    May 13, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi folks! It would be great if someone would volunteer to hold up a MeetUp sign so attending members can sit together, and move on to dinner for further discussion which is always fun. Any takers?

    April 3, 2012

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