October 28, 2008

Sandia hosts fourth Decade of the Mind symposium

Hundreds of scientists to converge on Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Reverse engineering of the brain will be the focus of a two-day symposium — Decade of the Mind IV— Jan. 14-15 in Albuquerque. Hosted by Sandia National Laboratories, the symposium will be attended by some 200 to 300 internationally respected scientists and decision makers.

The symposium, subtitled “Reverse Engineering the Brain: Sowing the Seeds for Technology Innovation,” will explore recent scientific advances in brain science and application of this science to create new technologies.

“This will be a very interesting two days of discussions that will reach across disparate fields such as cognitive science, medicine, neuroscience, psychology, mathematics, engineering, neurotechnology and computer science,” says John Wagner, manager of Sandia’s cognition department and symposium chairman. “We at Sandia are honored to host a symposium of this magnitude.”

The symposium will include keynote addresses by Rick Stephens, senior vice president of Human Resources and Administration for The Boeing Company, and George Johnson, New York Times science writer. Also presenting will be Jim Olds, George Mason University; Jim Giordano, Georgetown University; Christof Koch, California Institute of Technology; Bob Shulman, Yale University; Jim Albus, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); Jay McClelland, Stanford University; Jeff Krichmar, University of California at Irvine; and Gert Cauwenberghs, University of California at San Diego.

Discussions at the symposium sessions will cover potential benefits and hurdles of reverse engineering of the brain, computational neuroscience, cognitive modeling and massive neuronal simulations. Scientific breakthroughs in these areas are believed to offer insights that will spawn a wave of innovative new technologies promoting U.S. competitiveness across nearly every sector of the economy.

Cosponsors include the Krasnow Institute at George Mason University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Santa Fe Institute, the University of New Mexico and the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

About Decade of the Mind

Recent advances in brain research, in combination with the scientific consensus that mind emerges as a result of the activities of brains, has led to the notion of a new Decade project — one dedicated to understanding the phenomenon of mind within the context of neuroscience.

In May 2007 a group of leading scientists met at George Mason University’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study to map out what such a national initiative might look like. The starting point was the earlier Decade of the Brain initiative during the 1990s, which set the stage for today’s accelerated understanding of the operations and diseases of the brain.

The Decade of the Mind initiative is trans-disciplinary and multi-agency in its approach. Success will require research that reaches across many disciplines.

The Decade of the Mind initiative focuses on four broad areas:

The Albuquerque symposium is the fourth in a series of Decade of the Mind conferences.

The symposium will be held on Jan. 14-15 at the Tamaya Resort north of Albuquerque and is open to the public. Registrations are accepted at

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Chris Burroughs, (505) 844-0948

Decade of the Mind symposium contact: Kevin Dixon, (505) 284-5615