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Director of Human Cognition at 2AI Labs
Researching the mind, what it does, and where it's headed
The first optics for viewing people: VINO Optics
Story | More | Medical | O2Lamp | Lenses | Colorblindness
Writes for ChangiziBlog (HUB) | Discover | Forbes | Huff | WSJ | PT
| WIRED | Sci2.0 | Seed | Sciam | NewSci | Telegraph | Atlantic
RECENT NEWS (More news, Archive)
is a theoretical neurobiologist aiming to grasp the ultimate foundations underlying
why we think, feel and see as we do. His research focuses on "why" questions, and he
has made important discoveries such as on why we see in color, why we see illusions,
why we have forward-facing eyes, why the brain is structured as it is, why animals have
as many limbs and fingers as they do, why the dictionary is organized as it is,
why fingers get pruney when wet, and how we acquired writing, language and music.
He attended the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and then went on to the University of Virginia for a degree in physics and mathematics, and to the University of Maryland for a PhD in math. In 2002 he won a prestigious Sloan-Swartz Fellowship in Theoretical Neurobiology at Caltech, and in 2007 he became an assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 2010 he took the post of Director of Human Cognition at a new research institute called 2ai Labs.
He has more than three dozen scientific journal articles, some of which have been covered in news venues such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and WIRED. He has written three books, THE BRAIN FROM 25,000 FEET (Kluwer 2003), THE VISION REVOLUTION (Benbella 2009) and HARNESSED: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man (Benbella 2011). He is working on his fourth non-fiction book, this one on emotions and facial expressions, called FORCE OF EMOTIONS. He is simultaneously working on his first novel, called HUMAN 3.0.
Reactions to HARNESSED: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man
(Book excerpt in Sciam):
-- Made New Scientist's Top Ten Science Books of 2011, Sept, 2011.
"...this book might hold the key to one of humanity's longstanding mysteries..." -- Stanislas Dehaene, author of Readiiing in the Brain.
"...this remarkable book...promises to revolutionize thinking about what separates us from apes." -- Daniel Simons, author of The Invisssible Gorilla.
"...read it with fascination. I'd be...surprised if his main ideas...aren't on the right track." -- Frank Wilczek, Nobel laureate, EDGE, Sept, 2011.
"...Harnessed is brilliant." -- Seth Horowitz, author of The Universal Sense.
"...one of the most interesting and original books I've read in the past few years." -- Bill Benzon, author of Beethoven's Anvil.
"...opening up our ears and eyes to a whole new vision of humanity." -- David Rothenberg, author of Survival of the Beautiful.
"...brilliantly challenges...view...that the human brain's capacity for language [and music] is innate..." -- Cynthia Knight, Library Journal, Oct, 2011.
"...bound to arouse curiosity about the "missing links" that made language and music possible" -- Julie Sedivy, Psychology Today, Dec, 2011.
"...builds a compelling case, and his wry style of storytelling makes for an entertaining read." -- Discover Magazine, Sept, 2011.
"...Generating controversial theories is not new to this evolutionary neurobiologist." -- Frank Bures, Scientific American MIND, Nov, 2011.
"...makes a persuasive case in this fascinating volume." -- Bob Holmes, New Scientist, Aug, 2011.
"...simple but striking premise to show how language and music...harness our brains." -- Richard P. Grant, The Scientist, Jan, 2012.
"...makes a lucid, elegant case for a simple hypothesis: music sounds like humans moving and behaving." -- Zac Shaw, Mediapocalypse, June, 2012.
"...how auditory cheesecake was made with mother nature's milk." -- Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, Aug, 2011.
"...manages to accomplish the extraordinary." -- David DiSalvo, Forbes, Aug, 2011.
"...classrooms of undergraduates standing in awe of him." -- Daniel Levitin, Wall Street Journal, October, 2011.
"...profound evidence for how these two domains (language and music) separated us from our ancestors." -- Faenosphere, Dec, 2012.
"...systematic means of understanding much of the...ways language and music evolved." -- Richard Kade, Leonardo, Aug, 2011.
"...reveals how and why language, speech and music exist." -- David Bradley Euroscientist, Sept, 2011.
This book has been discussed widely in the press.
Reactions to THE VISION REVOLUTION
(Book excerpt in WSJ):
-- Made "Best Books of 2009" story. -- New Scientist.
"...imaginative, creative and entertaining. ...a revolutionary view on...perception." -- Shinsuke Shimojo,Computation and Neurrral Systems, Caltech
"...one of the best works of theoretical vision science since Gibson." -- see also Invisible Gorilla's DDDan Simons, PsychToday, Nov, 2010.
"...one of the most original accounts of vision..." -- Stanislas Dehaene, Head of the CEA Cooognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, author of Reading in the Brain.
"...a book full of invention and originality..." -- Peter Lucas, Professor of Anthropologggy, George Washington University.
"...fascinating book...," in a story on the best books of 2009 -- Amanda Gefter, New Scientist, Aug 25, 2010
"...unique ability to draw the reader into asking the most fundamental questions..." -- Romi Nijhawan, Reader in Psychology, University of Sussex.
"...this book is indispensable." -- Daniel Piza, Among "Best of the Year" books, Estadao, Aug, 2010.
"...open your eyes to the amazing feats of your visual system..." -- Michael Webster, Foundation Professorrr of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno.
"...unusual in range & quality of his ideas, the clarity & humour with which he can lay them out." -- Mind Hacks' Dr. Tom Stafford, The Psychologist, June, 2010
"...may have a big effect on our understanding of the human brain." -- Invisible Gorilla author Dr. CCChris Chabris, Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2009.
"...a fresh take on...key issues in perception...", -- Robert Deaner, Professor of Psychologggy, Grand Valley State University
"...will make you wonder the next time you notice someone blush" -- Melinda Wenner, Scientific American MIND, July 2009
"...surprising, overturning theories that have dominated primatology since the 1970s" -- Jennifer Curry, Barnes & Noble Spotlight Review, July 13, 2009
"...challenges common notions regarding sight. ...keep[s] them... dazzled." -- Professor R. H. Cormack, Publishers Weekly (starred review), May 11, 2009
"...interesting and challenging new theories." -- Professor Adrian G. Dyer, Quarterly Review of Biology, June, 2010
"...demands the reader look at things in such a new way that one can never go back." -- Paul Harris, Journal of Behavioral Optometry, Dec, 2011.
"...could potentially revise much of what we think we know about human vision." -- Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American, May, 2012.
"...Zahlreiche, teilweise verblüffende Testbeispiele sorgen für Abwechslung und so manchen Aha-Effekt." -- Heike Geilen, Tabula rasa
"...ein lesenswertes Sachbuch, um Prinzipien des visuellen Systems besser zu verstehen." -- Nicole Dietrich, ORF, Sept, 2012.
"...a fresh perspective on how we see the world." -- Grace Cao, Yale Scientific, Nov, 2012.
"...fascinated by the theories and insights." -- H. C. Park, Korean review, Dec, 2012.
The book has also been mentioned in interviews such as in the New York Times and Scientific American,
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