Winrich Freiwald, Ph.D.Assistant Professor, Rockefeller University
The 2024 lecture series in neuroscience and autism science is “The Social Brain.” Social interactions dominate our world and experiences. Human society itself results from large-scale social behavior. Such behaviors are also ubiquitous in other animals, from cooperation in nonhuman primates to the courtship rituals of flies. In these lectures, scientists will discuss how these social behaviors likely arise through neurobiological mechanisms shared across species.
2024 Lecture Series Themes
Presidential Lectures are free public colloquia centered on four main themes: Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Neuroscience and Autism Science. These curated, high-level scientific talks feature leading scientists and mathematicians and are intended to foster discourse and drive discovery among the broader NYC-area research community. We invite those interested in the topic to join us for this weekly lecture series.
Humans and all primates are social. Our primate sociality is a special one: it centers around the face as an active interface of social communication and connects to social cognitive abilities that look deeper than the surface of the face. Understanding the complex brains that make this possible offers insights into our human nature, its origins and hope for treating the many disorders afflicting social behavior.
In this Presidential Lecture, Winrich Freiwald will discuss the organization and function of the social brain and its special connection to the face. From a network of brain areas in the visual system that is exclusively specialized to analyze faces to a network of areas that controls the movements of the face, primate brains have evolved specialized circuitry to support specialized social functions. The different functions of the social brain can now be traced through this specialized network, and Freiwald will take one such tour from the analysis of faces to the memory of people to high-level social cognitive functions. He will then discuss how these discoveries shape our understanding of our brains and minds.