Para Limes

Conference: East-West Connections: Grand Challenges in Brain, Cognition and Good Life Research

Conference: East-West Connections: Grand Challenges in Brain, Cognition and Good Life Research

Date: 3 – 5 October 2016

Venue: Nanyang Executive Centre, Nanyang Technological University

Address: 60 Nanyang View, Singapore 639673


In the last ten years, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore has developed to be one of the world’s premium universities. It now has over 35,000 students. Its research and education cover most of the fields of technology and engineering, from space technologies through civil engineering to biotechnologies, but it also has schools in the fields of the humanities, psychology, biology, medicine and others. While NTU has some strong research groups related to different aspects of cognitive sciences, it now aims to develop a well-focused and “context specific” research programme on human cognition. The program will find a focus by enriching the existing research platforms with new research areas. The position of Singapore as a hub between East and West will provide a context within which a unique and highly relevant program on human cognition is being developed.

The first ideas for such a program were discussed in the early development of the complexity program. But the first concrete steps towards such a program were taken in the conference “East West Connections” that took place on 15 – 16 September 2014. A second conference on 16 – 17 September 2015 created added momentum.

Since then one of us (BG) has been asked to help establish the program on human cognition mentioned above. BG has also been asked to lead the Human Brain Imaging Centre to be formally opened in October 2016. In the light of this, we wish to continue our series of conferences on Cognition in an East West context and build up international expertise in the field of cognitive neuroscience research with advanced neuroimaging techniques.

These developments and the next conference greatly benefit from the close collaboration between the LKC School of Medicine and the Para Limes Institute at NTU. Para Limes is dedicated to exploring complexity beyond the boundaries of disciplines, cultures and institutes. In this spirit, it initiates and executes exploratory projects by teams of world-class scientists, philosophers, artists, policy makers, and men and women of practice. Para Limes has already organised a series of conferences on various interdisciplinary themes, including the ones with the titles “More is different”, “A crude look at the whole”, “Hidden connections” and “Emerging patterns”. In March 2016, the sequence to this series of complexity conferences will be held with the theme “Silent transformations”. Other conferences are being organized around themes such as “The complexity lens”, “East of West, West of East” and “Disrupted balance, society at risk”.

In this spirit, the proposed conference in October 2016 will focus on cultural and cognitive patterns in the East and West, with special regard to those patterns that are determined by our natural-genetic endowments in contrast to those patterns which are influenced by our cultural (“East-West”) influences. And, if possible, a unique flavour should be given during the talks and discussions to “good life” aspects within the above contexts.

Like in our previous conferences, we will not limit the scope of the individual talks, or the discussions by boundaries of disciplines and institutes. In fact, we will go beyond boundaries, break new ground and identify new questions. To make sure such high level, mind broadening discussions happen, we have invited speakers from totally different fields.

Videos & Presentation Slides

Jan Wouter Vasbinder – Welcome Address

Member of Governing Board, Para Limes

Balázs Gulyás – Introduction

Professor of Translational Neuroscience, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University

Giacomo Rizzolatti

University of Parma, Italy

Guy Orban

University of Parma, Italy

Peter Somogyi

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Tamás Freund

Institute of Experimental Medicine, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary

Atsushi Iriki

RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan

Paul Matthews

Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Wolf Singer

Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Germany

Mara Dierssen

CRG-Center for Genomic Regulation, Spain

Ernst Pöppel

Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany

György Buzsáki

New York University, United States

Fredrik Ullén

Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Jean Decety

The University of Chicago, United States

Torkel Klingberg

Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Stanislas Dehaene

INSERM-CEA Cognitive NeuroImaging Unit, France

Henrik Ehrsson

Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Balázs Gulyás & Jan Wouter Vasbinder – Closing Remarks