Singapore Hosts First “Decade of the Mind” Conference in Asia and Expands Efforts in Brain & Cognition Research

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SINGAPORE, 18 OCT - 400 delegates from multidisciplinary fields and communities converge at Fusionopolis for this international conference

Signals from the arm muscles are used to generate commands for gamers to control video games

Brain and cognition research is an important emerging research area in Singapore

A total of 15 world renowned cognitive scientists have been invited to share recent advances in their respective fields at the 6th Decade of the Mind Conference to be held at Fusionopolis from 18 – 20 October 2010. Jointly organised by A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), MINDEF’s Defence Research & Technology Office (DRTech) and NUS’s Temasek Laboratories, it is the first such conference in Asia to promote awareness of Cognitive Science research done in Asia and from around the world. The conference also includes a Public Exhibition, showcasing cutting edge technologies.

Keynote speakers include Professor James McClelland from Stanford University, a pioneer in the cognitive science research on spoken word recognition and visual word recognition; Professor Kenichiro Mogi from Sony Computer Science Lab for his study of mind-brain issues and Professor Christof Koch from California Institute of Technology, a world pioneer in consciousness research. Other topics include sleep research that shows how some blind people can retain normal responsiveness to light, neurostimulation devices developed to treat neuroscience diseases; neurosensors for real-time sensing of cognitive states for use in controlling prosthetic limbs, computers, wheelchairs and future entertainment systems; visual prostheses, automated cognitive tutors that helps students through adaptive tutoring and domestic robots that can ease future demands on society’s pressure with an ageing population.

“Brain and cognition research is an important emerging research area in Singapore,” emphasised Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee, Singapore’s Minister of State for Defence at the Opening Ceremony, under its theme “Cognitive Science and Neurotechnologies: Looking Forward to the Next Ten Years”. Professor Koo said that there was growing interest in brain and cognition research in Singapore and noted that such research could bring significant benefit to our society in areas such as healthcare, education, industry, security and defence. Furthermore, Singapore’s small and highly networked environment lends itself well to the inter-disciplinary nature of brain and cognition research. He revealed that discussions are currently underway among A*STAR, DRTech and the universities to establish a centre of excellence for research in cognitive science and neuro-technologies.

Professor Koo also reiterated the importance of R&D to Singapore’s development into a knowledge-based and innovation driven economy. This was reflected in the Singapore government’s recent commitment of S$16.1 billion to fund R&D over the next 5 years.

Professor David Srolovitz, IHPC’s Executive Director said, “The field of cognitive science and our understanding of it have grown tremendously over the past 10 years. We are pleased to host this conference in Fusionopolis, Singapore as we envision it to bring local research communities, stakeholders and policy makers together to drive new discoveries in this area of R&D. This in turn will stimulate enterprise and establish Singapore as an innovation hub.”

Professor Srolovitz also added, “In A*STAR, an interdisciplinary team in computational social cognitive science was set up in IHPC to design computational models that explore the interplay between the social and cognitive processes behind behaviour, perceptions and interactions. Through our collaborative effort on social robotics and artificial intelligence across various A*STAR research institutes and partners, we hope to contribute towards building models of socially intelligent robots and other computational agents that are inspired directly from human interactions in social situations in Singapore and the region.”

Dr Kenneth Kwok, Head of the Cognitive Science Programme in NUS’s Temasek Laboratories and Chairman of the conference’s organising committee, said that research in cognitive science would be relevant to defence in areas such as reducing training time, exploiting unmanned technologies via non-invasive brain computer interface, and potentially improving cognitive performance of our soldiers.

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Caption for images:

Muscle Control image:
Signals from the arm muscles are used to generate a set of commands for gamers to control video games; the same technology can be harnessed to control articulation by a set of dexterous grasps on a multi-fingered hand.

Telenoid image:
Human-like robots like this Telenoid was shown at the "Neurotechnology and Robotics Exhibition" held alongside the Decade of the Mind Conference in Singapore

For more information on speakers’ profiles and public exhibition, please refer to Decade of the Mind

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms Joanne Tan
Assistant Manager, Corporate Communications
Institute of High Performance Computing
Tel: (65) 6419-1422
Email: tanjpg(at)scei(dot)a-star(dot)edu(dot)sg

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
A*STAR is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based and innovative-driven Singapore. A*STAR oversees 14 biomedical sciences, and physical sciences and engineering research institutes, and seven consortia & centres, which are located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis, as well as their immediate vicinity. A*STAR supports Singapore's key economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry. It also supports extramural research in the universities, hospitals, research centres, and with other local and international partners. For more information about A*STAR, please visit http://www.a-star.edu.sg

About the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC)
As a national research institute supported by A*STAR through its Science and Engineering Council (SERC), the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) was established in April 1998 to provide leadership in high performance computing as a strategic resource for scientific inquiry and industry development. IHPC seeks to power discoveries through advanced methodologies, techniques and new tools in modelling, simulation and visualisation. Its core research focus are in the realm of complex-coupled systems, mechanics and fluid dynamics, large-scale systems, digital modelling, adaptive and collaborative computing, data mining and analyses, computational electronics and electromagnetics, computational material and chemistry. For more information about IHPC, please visit Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC)

About Defence Research & Technology Office (DRTech)
The Defence Research and Technology Office (DRTech) was established on 1 Oct 2006 as the lead agency in MINDEF to formulate and drive strategy for defence research and technology (R&T), and to strengthen the Singapore defence R&T eco-system. DRTech is MINDEF’s R&T architect responsible for identifying strategic thrusts to focus our defence R&T investments on high payoff programmes and sow the technological seeds for future transformational fighting capabilities. It is also responsible for maximizing the future technological options for defence capability development by making best use of the R&T capabilities of DSO, DSTA, the academia, the defence industry, the larger scientific, technology and engineering community in Singapore, and leveraging the strength of overseas collaboration partners. For more information about DRTech, please visit Defence Research & Technology Office (DRTech)

About Temasek Laboratories (TL@NUS)
Temasek Laboratories (TL@NUS) was launched on 6 September 2000 with a mission to conduct research into selected areas of science and technology critical to Singapore's requirements, such as aeronautical sciences, cognitive science, electromagnetics, information security, nonlinear dynamics and signal processing. TL@NUS works toward forging a close link between NUS research community and Singapore's defence science research community in DSO National Laboratories and the industries, in order to facilitate the transition of fundamental research results to applications in defence and security, In particular, we partner DSO in our research to enhance our awareness of technological needs and potential applications. TL@NUS also assists Defence Research & Technology Office (DRTech) in coordinating and promoting NUS-MINDEF research collaborations.
For more information about TL@NUS, please visit Temasek Laboratories (TL@NUS)

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