The Chandaria Lectures 2017 with Prof Cecilia Heyes

12 December 2017, 6.00pm - 7.00pm
The Chancellor's Hall, First Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU


Gadgets for Mindreading and Imitation

Compared with chimpanzees, most adult humans are strikingly good at reading the minds of others, inferring their thoughts and feelings, and at copying the fine details of what others are doing.  Mindreading and imitation enable humans to cooperate on grand scales, and to accumulate wisdom over many generations.  Given their importance in making human lives so different from those of other animals, it’s tempting to think that mindreading and imitation are ‘in our genes’.  However, I argue, using evidence from developmental psychology and social cognitive neuroscience, that mindreading, like print reading, is taught by experts to novices.  Similarly, the capacity to imitate is built from ‘old parts’ in the course of childhood, and the construction process is powered by culture-specific patterns of social interaction. 

Cecilia Heyes is a Senior Research Fellow in Theoretical Life Sciences, and Professor of Psychology, at All Souls College, University of Oxford.  She was educated at UCL and, after postdoctoral research as a Harkness Fellow in the United States, and at the University of Cambridge, she taught at UCL for many years.  A philosophical psychologist, her research interests focus on the evolution of cognition; the ways that natural selection, developmental and cultural processes conspire to produce adult human minds.  She is a Fellow of the British Academy.

This event is free to attend but advanced booking is required.  Please book using the link below.


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