Modern Neuroscience and Freud Event

The Association for Psychoanalytic Thought offered another superb event this past Friday at the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute. With renewed interest in Freud’s scientific ideas by contemporary leading neuroscientists such as Mark Solms and Oliver Turnbull, not to forget the role Freud had played in Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel’s life and work, this event was especially timely and relevant. (Also Discover Mag currently has a cover article on Freud’s “second-coming”.)

Konstantin Bakhurin who is completing his PhD in the Neuroscience program at UCLA, gave a highly informative talk  as the first of two speakers on the subject of contemporary neuroscience and Freud. His topic: Learning-dependent modulation and potential neurological correlates for past experience influencing present behavior; a model to provide understanding of Freud’s ID, Ego, and Superego as ‘residing’ in the brain as an effect of its organization and interaction function. I especially appreciated Konstantin’s cultural approach to Freud and psychoanalytic thought in his introduction providing us with the context in which psychoanalytic ideas – and precursors to those – were shaped and processed by thinkers, scientists, and artists alike. This culture of cross-fertilization set the tone in the late 19th century for the advancement of psychoanalytic thought and this renewed, respectful treatment of Freud’s scientific ideas within a growing neuropsychoanalytic community promises to lead to a fruitful period for collaborative research between the arts, humanities and sciences. (In this context also of interest is Eric Kandel’s new book The Age of Insight and an interview by Die Zeit with the author.)

For Konstantin’s full talk, please visit here:

Further suggested readings:

Linden, D.J. (2007) The accidental mind: How brain evolution has given us love, memory, dreams, and God. (Book Review)

Burton, Robert (2013) A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind

Demasio, Antonio (2012) Self Comes to Mind

Panksepp, Jaak (2012) Archaeology of Mind

Obituary of David Hubel http://www.theguardian.com/science/neurophilosophy/2013/sep/30/obituary-david-hubel

This is a great collection of review articles on the various kinds of representations of the outside world in the brain that are typically studied in neuroscience. People should have access to these through their university library: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09594388/24

The second talk by Dr. Marcia Kaplan, practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalytic therapist was equally inspiring and in the same spirit as the first speaker’s. Its topic: Findings regarding firing of single neurons correlating with psychoanalytic models explaining behavior; information-processing in “bottom-up” and “top-down” ways by both brain and mind. Rich in background information and context with helpful examples made for an illustrative presentation of complex ideas that became accessible to a appreciative and interested audience.

For Dr. Kaplan’s full talk, please visit here:

Further Readings:

Podcast by Jaak Panksepp

Panksepp, Jaak (2004) Affective Neuroscience

A special thank you to Christian Faur, Director of Collaborative Technologies Fine and Performing Arts at Denison University for professionally capturing and editing these talks.

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