A 2-day international symposium took place at Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, K. K. Birla Goa campus, which was a collaboration between University of Hyderabad and BITS on 28th and 29th October 2022. It was organized as part of the international and multicentric iBrain ERASMUS+ grant to Prof. Ramesh Mishra and Dr. Veeky Baths, to foster dissemination of knowledge in mind and brain sciences. Cognitive science is an emerging field in India and has scope in bringing together different domains, leading to an advanced understanding of human mind and behaviour.
Prof. B J Rao, Vice Chancellor University of Hyderabad, who was the chief guest, addressed the gathering, emphasizing on multidisciplinary learning and the expansion of cognitive science into many newer areas. He particularly emphasised the scaling of new heights by forging new bridges between different knowledge systems. As this symposium specifically focused on bi/multilingualism from the point of view of mind, brain, society and culture as well as their applications; Prof. Rao encouraged the audience to undertake research in more applied domains that can benefit the society directly. The director of BITS Pilani K.K. Birla Goa campus, Prof. Suman Kundu, in his address, emphasized language learning as a key event in human cognition. He also encouraged collaboration among institutions in conducting such important conferences and academic events that carry high societal implications.
There were 4 keynote addresses and 12 presentations by speakers from prominent international and national organizations and universities such as, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele Italy, TU Dresden Germany, Yale University USA, Boston University USA, Northumbria University UK, National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) India, IIT-Hyderabad amongst many others. Dr. Baths spoke about the cognitive science laboratory at BITS Pilani K. K. Birla Goa campus and invited collaborations from young scholars. Prof. Mishra delivered a keynote lecture focusing on the evolution of bilingualism in human species and linked it to applied areas such as social cognition, linguistics etc.
Prof. Nandini Singh, Senior National Project Officer at UNESCO- Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, and Professor at National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), highlighted the rising concern of learning poverty in the country, in her keynote address. She presented a tool – “Cognitive Learning Ability Scaled Score” or CLASS, to assess language developmental skills, and testing the efficacy of learning to read among school students. Prof. Jubin Abutalebi, Director of the Centre for Neurolinguistics and Psycholinguistics, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Adjunct Professor at the Arctic University of Norway (UIT) and the Editor-in-Chief of the journal ‘Bilingualism: Language and Cognition’, in his keynote, emphasized the need of the hour to understand the link between bilingualism and neurodegenerative disorders such as Dementia and cater appropriate interventions to the target population.
This was the second edition of ISBC and it attracted a good amount of audience. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Cambridge university press sponsored awards to encourage aspiring scholars and students who presented their research work during the poster competition. The symposium ended with a special session on Linguistic Diversity, Indigenous Languages and Multilingualism, organized by Prof. Arulmozhi, Centre for Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies, University of Hyderabad.
The event was a success in eliciting exciting ideas and intriguing discussions among scholars and students. This symposium was especially aimed at bridging academic collaboration in the field of cognitive science between University of Hyderabad and BITS Pilani K.K. Birla Goa Campus, which are both Institutes of Eminence (IoE).