MSJ Alumni Give Cortex Talks

By: Staff Writer Carolyn Ge

MSJ Alumni Daniel Do and Aaron Lin came to MSJ after school on March 22 to 24 to give Cortex Talks, a series of talks about the brain, in B-3. Lin talked about cognitive biases on Tuesday and brain plasticity on Thursday, while Do discussed neurophilosophy on Wednesday.

The general purpose of the Cortex Talks was to bring together MSJ students who are curious about neuroscience or who might enjoy learning about a new subject in their leisure time. Do said, “My goal was to get students thinking about the mind and the brain and to introduce them to important questions about consciousness, free will, artificial intelligence, and neuroethics.” The talks were partially inspired by a similar event, hosted by the MSJ Neuroscience club, that took place in Lin and Do’s senior year. Originally, Cortex Talks were affiliated with Cortex Academies, an educational business that Do runs. However, Do and Lin did not want to give the talks for commercial purposes, so they just hosted them without the association with the company.

Junior Katherine Xiang, who attended all three talks, said, “Aaron and Daniel incorporated a lot of variety into the three presentations held after school. Daniel hosted an intriguing discussion on consciousness and made us question our experiences of life in the neurophilosophy talk. Aaron’s talk seemed to make all of us more aware of the effects of bias and the psychology behind it on our daily lives, including marketing tactics or in our own estimations.”

Do and Lin both hope that MSJ students can take away important lessons from their talks. Regarding his talk about neurophilosophy, Do said, “Because MSJ students are overwhelmingly focused on STEM fields, many may view philosophy as a collection of petty, pretentious, purely semantic disagreements that have little practical value. I want students to realize that philosophy is more than just food for thought, more than an armchair institution. The answers we give to philosophical questions actually matter in our daily lives because they provide a framework for how we think and behave.”


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