Center for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, School of Medical Sciences, University of Hyderabad hosted an online lecture by Prof. Michael Spivey, Professor of Cognitive Science, University of California, Merced on the topic “Who You Are: Embodied and Extended Cognition” on January 18th, 2021 as part of an online distinguished speaker series initiated by Center for Neural and   Cognitive Sciences under the banner of “CogTalk”. It is an interdisciplinary platform for lectures/interactive sessions by distinguished speakers related to mind and brain sciences. The objective is to engage students, researchers, faculty in cognitive science and spread awareness of research areas which are asking innovative questions and using truly interdisciplinary ideas/methods to answer these questions.

The main focus of the lecture was on the interactivity of the mind – how our actions and responses are a result of not just our own minds but the environment and other external factors around us. Drawing evidence from a wide variety of research areas – from linguistics, action-perception links, moral decision making among others – Prof. Spivey showed how there is overwhelming evidence for an embodied view of cognition. He also touched upon his earlier work on interactivity in language where seemingly irrelevant factors have been shown to influence different levels of language processing. The talk was followed by a lively discussion first with the moderator Prof. Ramesh Mishra. A key point of discussion was on consciousness. Is consciousness situated within the organism or is it a natural phenomenon? Prof. Spivey shared his view that consciousness is a result of interactions within the natural world but it is firmly rooted within the organism. Questions from audience also led to discussions on the philosophical notions of free-will and if the interactive framework discussed by Prof. Spivey leaves room for free-will and intentional control.

This interdisciplinary initiative is also part of the ongoing iBrain Erasmus+ multi-institutional project on capacity building in higher education, of which Prof. Ramesh Mishra is one of the coordinators.