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Itzhak Fried

University of California LA / Tel Aviv University
The Brains that Pull the Triggers
01 October 2016 -
31 October 2016,
01 May 2017 -
31 May 2017

Itzhak Fried is Professor of Neurosurgery and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. He heads the Cognitive neurophysiology Laboratory and is Director of the Adult Epilepsy Surgery Program and Co-Director of the Seizure Disorder Center. He is also a Professor of Neurosurgery at Tel Aviv University in Israel. He has pioneered methods for studying the cellular basis of human visual perception and memory. He and Christopher Koch were the first to record the different responses of single neurons in the cortex with conscious and non-conscious patients. He is the author of some one hundred papers and a dozen chapters in volumes of collected works.

Research interests

Epilepsy; memory; free will.

The volitional self and its brain

The problem of free will has accompanied the human condition since ancient times but has been primarily the province of philosophy. The vast and rapid developments in neuroscience over the last few decades provide some interesting empirical data and potential insights into this problem. Tantalizing empirical data in neuroscience, some from our research at UCLA using electrical stimulation and recordings from the human brain, suggest that specific brain activity is present prior to not only action itself, but also prior to the will to act. Thus “free” will can be decoded and predicted from neural activity prior to volition experienced by the self. These new data pose challenges to the humanities and social sciences, philosophy, literature law, politics. Two central themes bear special scrutiny. One is the consideration of mind enhancement as compared to mind reading and mind control potentially afforded by scientific knowledge. The second is the issue of individual responsibility in the view of seemingly deterministic preconscious brain activity. In this project I propose to bring experts in these disciplines to an Atelier environment to produce interdisciplinary synthesis involving perspectives from the fields of neuroscience, philosophy, social sciences, psychology and literature, law and politics.

Key publications

"Syndrome E", The Lancet, vol. 350, n° 9094, 1997.

Single Neuron Studies of the Human Brain: Probing Cognition, with U. Rutishauser, M. Cerf, G. Kreiman, Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2014.

"Brain Stimulation and Memory", Brain, n° 138, july 2015.

"Preconscious prediction of a driver's decision using intracranial recordings", with O. Perez , R. Mukamel, A. Tankus, J.D. Rosenblatt, Y. Yeshurun, Journal of Cognitive neuroscience, vol. 27, issue 8, August 2015.

International conference convened by I.Fried (Paris IAS / UCLA / Tel Aviv U.) and A. Berthoz (Collège de France)
10 May 2017 09:00 -
12 May 2017 13:00,
Paris :
The Brains that Pull the Triggers - 3rd Paris Conference on Syndrome E

Contemporary period (1789-…)
World or no region