This center leverages the strengths of Carnegie Mellon in cognitive and computational neuroscience and those of the University of Pittsburgh in basic and clinical neuroscience to support a coordinated cross-university research and educational program of international stature.


CNBC Colloquium Elizabeth Brannon @ 6014 Biomedical Science Tower 3
Mar 2 @ 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Developmental and evolutionary foundations of the human mathematical mind
Elizabeth M. Brannon, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Chair
The University of Pennsylvania

Thursday, March 2, 2017
4:00 p.m.
6014 Biomedical Science Tower 3

The ability to use numbers is one of the most complex cognitive abilities that humans possess and is often held up as a defining feature of the human mind. Alongside the uniquely human symbolic system for representing number we possess an approximate number system (ANS) that is evolutionarily ancient and developmentally conservative. In my talk I will illustrate the signatures of the ANS with experimental data from human babies and nonhuman primates. I will describe behavioral and neurobiological data that demonstrates how the human and nonhuman primate mind privileges numerical information over other types of quantitative information. I will argue that this numerical privilege implicates the biological importance of number in our evolutionary history. Finally, I will report on efforts to harness the ANS to improve math performance and discuss some of the limitations of this work.

CNBC Special Alumni Lecture – Rick Gerkin @ 1495 Biomedical Science Tower
Mar 9 @ 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Building Smells: The Size, Shape, and Structure of Human Olfactory Space

Richard C. (Rick) Gerkin, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor
School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University

Thursday, March 9, 2017
1:00 p.m.
1495 Biomedical Science Tower

van Hemmen Lecture @ 6014 Biomedical Science Tower 3
Mar 10 @ 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM

The University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute
Present a Research Seminar:

“Mathematics and Neuroscience”

J. Leo van Hemmen, PhD

Professor & Chair of Theoretical Biophysics
Physik Department
Technische Universität

March 10, 2017
1:15 PM
6014 Biomedical Science Tower 3

Abstract: We analyze the question of whether neuroscience allows for mathematical descriptions and whether an interaction between experimental and theoretical neuroscience can be expected to benefit both of them. It is argued that a mathematization of natural phenomena never happens by itself. First, appropriate key concepts must be found that are intimately connected with the phenomena one wishes to describe and explain mathematically. Second, the scale on, and not beyond, which a specific description can hold must be specified. Different scales allow for different conceptual and mathematical descriptions. This is the scaling hypothesis. Third, can a mathematical description be universally valid and, if so, how? Here we put forth the argument that universals also exist in theoretical neuroscience, that evolution proves the rule, and that theoretical neuroscience is a domain with still lots of space for new developments initiated by an intensive interaction with experiment. Finally, major insight is provided by a careful analysis of the way in which particular brain structures respond to perceptual input and in so doing induce action in an animal’s surroundings.

Lit.: J.L. van Hemmen, Neuroscience from a mathematical perspective: key concepts, scales and scaling hypothesis, universality, Biol. Cybern. 108 (2014) 701-712

CNBC Connect

CNBC Connect is our annual newsletter with award, research, and more news. View editions.

Research Roundup

Research Roundup lists recent publications by CNBC members. View publications.