Is the Brain Bayesian?

December 4, 2015 - December 5, 2015
NYU Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness, New York University

914 Kimmel Center (Friday)
Hemmerdinger Hall, Silver Center (Saturday)
New York 10003
United States


Jeffrey Bowers
David Danks
Carnegie Mellon University
Ernest Davis
New York University
Karl Friston
University College London
Weiji Ma
New York University
Larry Maloney
New York University
Eric Mandelbaum
Gary Marcus
New York University
John Morrison
Columbia University
Nicoletta Orlandi
University of California at Santa Cruz
Michael Rescorla
University of California at Santa Barbara
Laura Schulz
Harvard University
Eero Simoncelli
New York University
Joshua Tenenbaum

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On December 4-5, the NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness
will host a conference on “Is the Brain Bayesian?”.

Bayesian theories have attracted enormous attention in the cognitive
sciences in recent years. According to these theories, the mind
assigns probabilities to hypotheses and updates them according to
standard probabilistic rules of inference. Bayesian theories have
been applied to the study of perception, learning, memory, reasoning,
language, decision making, and many other domains. Bayesian
approaches have also become increasingly popular in neuroscience, and
a number of potential neurobiological mechanisms have been proposed.

At the same time, Bayesian theories have been controversial, and they
raise many foundational questions. Does the brain actually use
Bayesian rules? Or are they merely approximate descriptions of
behavior? How well can Bayesian theories accommodate apparent
irrationality in cognition? Do they require an implausibly uniform
view of the mind? Are Bayesian theories near-trivial due to their
many degrees of freedom? What are their implications for the
relationship between perception, cognition, rationality, and

All of these questions and more will be discussed at the conference. The conference will bring together both scientists and philosophers, and
both proponents and opponents of Bayesian approaches, to discuss and debate a number of central issues.

Speakers and panelists will include:

Jeffrey Bowers(Bristol), David Danks(Carnegie Mellon), Ernest Davis(NYU), Karl Friston(University College London), Weiji Ma(NYU), Larry Maloney(NYU), Eric Mandelbaum(CUNY), Gary Marcus(NYU), John Morrison(Barnard/Columbia), Nicoletta Orlandi(UC Santa Cruz), Michael Rescorla(UC Santa Barbara), Laura Schulz(MIT), Susanna Siegel(Harvard), Eero Simoncelli (NYU),Joshua Tenenbaum (MIT) and others

The conference sessions will run from 9:30am to 6pm on Friday and Saturday December 4-5. Friday sessions will be in Kimmel Center 914
(60 Washington Square South) and Saturday sessions will be in Jurow Hall in the Silver Center (100 Washington Square East). Conference
registration and coffee will begin at 9am both days. A full schedule will be circulated closer to the conference date.

Registration is free but required.To register please visit

For questions please contact:  [email protected]

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December 2, 2015, 3:00pm EST

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