02. June 2022

Mindvoyage 01 l Dani S. Bassett: The Curious Human

Dani S. Bassett

The Mindvoyage lectures feature prominent scholars from different disciplines including the humanities, biology, neuroscience and physics. On Thursday, June 2, 4 p.m. CET, the Mindvoyage lecture series features Dani S. Bassett (they/them), J. Peter Skirkanich Professor, University of Pennsylvania.

The lectures are presented by Lucia Melloni, Research Group Leader, Research Group Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition on behalf of the ARC-COGITATE Consortium.


The Curious Human

The human mind is curious. It is strange, remarkable, and mystifying; it is eager, probing, questioning. Despite its pervasiveness and its relevance for our well-being, scientific studies of human curiosity that bridge both the organ of curiosity and the object of curiosity remain in their infancy. In this talk, I will integrate historical, philosophical, and psychological perspectives with techniques from applied mathematics and statistical physics to study individual and collective curiosity. In the former, I will evaluate how humans walk on the knowledge network of Wikipedia during unconstrained browsing. In doing so, we will capture idiosyncratic forms of curiosity that span multiple millennia, cultures, languages, and timescales. In the latter, I will consider the fruition of collective curiosity in the building of scientific knowledge as encoded in Wikipedia. Throughout, I will make a case for the position that individual and collective curiosity are both network building processes, providing a connective counterpoint to the common acquisitional account of curiosity in humans.

You can register for the event by using this link.


About the speaker

Prof. Bassett is the J. Peter Skirkanich Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, with appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering, Electrical & Systems Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, Neurology, and Psychiatry. They are also an external professor of the Santa Fe Institute. Bassett is most well-known for blending neural and systems engineering to identify fundamental mechanisms of cognition and disease in human brain networks. They received a B.S. in physics from Penn State University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge, UK as a Churchill Scholar, and as an NIH Health Sciences Scholar. Following a postdoctoral position at UC Santa Barbara, Bassett was a Junior Research Fellow at the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind. They have received multiple prestigious awards, including American Psychological Association's ‘Rising Star’ (2012), Alfred P Sloan Research Fellow (2014), MacArthur Fellow Genius Grant (2014), Early Academic Achievement Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (2015), Office of Naval Research Young Investigator (2015), National Science Foundation CAREER (2016), Popular Science Brilliant 10 (2016), Lagrange Prize in Complex Systems Science (2017), Erdos-Renyi Prize in Network Science (2018), OHBM Young Investigator Award (2020), AIMBE College of Fellows (2020), American Physical Society Fellow (2021), and has been named one of Web of Science's most Highly Cited Researchers for 3 years running. Bassett is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, which have garnered over 33,000 citations, as well as numerous book chapters and teaching materials. Bassett’s work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Army Research Office, the Army Research Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Defense, the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, the Paul Allen Foundation, the ISI Foundation, and the Center for Curiosity. Bassett has an academic trade book coming out this year with MIT Press, co-authored with philosopher and twin Perry Zurn, and titled Curious Minds: The Power of Connection.

The event will be held on Zoom. Pleaso note the Data Protection Information Regarding Zoom Webinars.