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Singapore hosts first 'Decade of the Mind' conference in Asia

Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:37am
EurekAlert

18 October 2010, Singapore A total of 15 world renowned cognitive scientists have been invited to share recent advances in their respective fields at the 6th Decade of the Mind Conference to be held at Fusionopolis from 18 20 October 2010. Jointly organised by A*STAR's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), MINDEF's Defence Research & Technology Office (DRTech) and NUS's Temasek Laboratories, it is the first such conference in Asia to promote awareness of Cognitive Science research done in Asia and from around the world. The conference also includes a Public Exhibition, showcasing cutting edge technologies.

Keynote speakers include Professor James McClelland from Stanford University, a pioneer in the cognitive science research on spoken word recognition and visual word recognition; Professor Kenichiro Mogi from Sony Computer Science Lab for his study of mind-brain issues and Professor Christof Koch from California Institute of Technology, a world pioneer in consciousness research. Other topics include sleep research that shows how some blind people can retain normal responsiveness to light, neurostimulation devices developed to treat neuroscience diseases; neurosensors for real-time sensing of cognitive states for use in controlling prosthetic limbs, computers, wheelchairs and future entertainment systems; visual prostheses, automated cognitive tutors that helps students through adaptive tutoring and domestic robots that can ease future demands on society's pressure with an ageing population.

"Brain and cognition research is an important emerging research area in Singapore," emphasised Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee, Singapore's Minister of State for Defence at the Opening Ceremony, under its theme "Cognitive Science and Neurotechnologies: Looking Forward to the Next Ten Years". Professor Koo said that there was growing interest in brain and cognition research in Singapore and noted that such research could bring significant benefit to our society in areas such as healthcare, education, industry, security and defence. Furthermore, Singapore's small and highly networked environment lends itself well to the inter-disciplinary nature of brain and cognition research. He revealed that discussions are currently underway among A*STAR, DRTech and the universities to establish a centre of excellence for research in cognitive science and neuro-technologies.

Professor Koo also reiterated the importance of R&D to Singapore's development into a knowledge-based and innovation driven economy. This was reflected in the Singapore government's recent commitment of S$16.1 billion to fund R&D over the next 5 years.

Professor David Srolovitz, IHPC's Executive Director said, "The field of cognitive science and our understanding of it have grown tremendously over the past 10 years. We are pleased to host this conference in Fusionopolis, Singapore as we envision it to bring local research communities, stakeholders and policy makers together to drive new discoveries in this area of R&D. This in turn will stimulate enterprise and establish Singapore as an innovation hub."

Professor Srolovitz also added, "In A*STAR, an interdisciplinary team in computational social cognitive science was set up in IHPC to design computational models that explore the interplay between the social and cognitive processes behind behaviour, perceptions and interactions. Through our collaborative effort on social robotics and artificial intelligence across various A*STAR research institutes and partners, we hope to contribute towards building models of socially intelligent robots and other computational agents that are inspired directly from human interactions in social situations in Singapore and the region."

Dr Kenneth Kwok, Head of the Cognitive Science Programme in NUS's Temasek Laboratories and Chairman of the conference's organising committee, said that research in cognitive science would be relevant to defence in areas such as reducing training time, exploiting unmanned technologies via non-invasive brain computer interface, and potentially improving cognitive performance of our soldiers.

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