Jane Pauley + Sebastian Seung

    Wednesday February 8, 2012 @ 7:00 PM

    Price: $20.00
    Member Price: $18.00

    Ticket Includes:

    6:15 p.m.
    Mnemonic Art Tour in the galleries

    6:45 p.m.
    Karma Chain on the spiral staircase

    7:00 p.m.
    Program in the theater

    8:30 p.m.
    Book signing in the cafe

    This program is now sold out.

    If you are interested in being on the stand-by list, you must arrive at the museum two (2) hours before the start of the program to place your name on the stand-by list. If there are tickets available at the start of the program the Front Desk staff will sell them to those on the stand-by list at the time, in the order the names were received.

    Chairman's Circle members of the museum have the privilege of purchasing tickets to sold-out programs should they become available before the start of the program. Please call 212.620.5000 ext. 344 to enquire.

    Jane Pauley is best known as long-time morning broadcaster for NBC's Today Show and as a co-host for NBC's popular news magazine, Dateline. In her autobiography Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue, (2004) Pauley revealed that she suffered from bipolar disorder, first diagnosed in 2001. Her attention to mental health issues is reflected in her role on the leadership board of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.

    Sebastian Seung is a Professor of Computational Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Department of Physics at MIT. We know that each of us is unique, but science has struggled to pinpoint where, precisely, our uniqueness resides. Is it in our genes? The structure of our brains? Our genome may determine our eye color and even aspects of our personality. But our friendships, failures, and passions also shape who we are. The question is: how? In his book Seung introduces us to the dedicated researchers who are mapping the brain’s connections, neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse. It is a monumental undertaking—the scientific equivalent of climbing Mount Everest—but if they succeed, it could reveal the basis of personality, intelligence, memory, and perhaps even mental disorders. Many scientists speculate that people with anorexia, autism, and schizophrenia are “wired differently,” but nobody knows for sure. The brain’s wiring has never been seen clearly. In sparklingly clear prose, Seung reveals the amazing technological advances that will soon help us map connectomes. He also examines the evidence that these maps will someday allow humans to “upload” their minds into computers, achieving a kind of immortality. Connectome is a mind-bending adventure story, told with great passion and authority. It presents a daring scientific and technological vision for at last understanding what makes us who we are. Welcome to the future of neuroscience.


    Mnemonic Art Tour 
    Take advantage of a short tour of some paintings in the collection that function as mnemonic devices. The iconography in these paintings serve to reference specific passages in the sutras. That is why most of these works were not meant to be revealed to those who were not already initiates. The tour will include two types of paintings: narratives such as the life of the Buddha, and mandalas which are complex two-dimensional diagrams of one’s multi-dimensional state of mind.


    Karma Chain
    As a prelude to the staged program, we are planning to stage a simple game of ‘telephone’ prior to the session to demonstrate the fallibility of oral transmission and the nature of short-term memory. Each ticket holder will stand on one of the steps of the 108-stepped spiral staircase of the Museum. The guest speaker stands at the base, whispers a short phrase they have prepared to the visitor on the first step, and the phrase would spiral up through the line until it reaches the ear of the scientist. The conversationalists will only reveal the original phrase and the result phrase when on stage in the theater, thus starting the conversation about memory.