Keynote 1: Diverse Brain

Humans differ. Most read with their eyes, but some read with their fingertips. The majority communicates by speaking and listening, but a minority communicates by signing. Humans are diverse, and so are our brains. When should neuroscientists accentuate these differences – and when shouldn’t they? Why should individuals, themselves, accept their brain differences? And how can we, as a society, accommodate those brain differences?

Morton Ann Gernsbacher, Vilas Professor & Sir Frederic Bartlett Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Gernsbacher received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983, and was an assistant, associate, and full professor at the University of Oregon, from 1983 to 1992, when she then joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is a Vilas Research Professor and the Sir Frederic C. Bartlett Professor of Psychology. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Experimental Psychologists, the American Psychological Association (Divisions 1, 3, and 6), the American Psychological Society, and the American Educational Research Association. 

Gernsbacher has received a Research Career Development Award and a Senior Research Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health, a Fulbright Research Scholar Award, a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Dallas, a James McKeen Cattell Foundation Fellowship, the George A. Miller Award, a Professional Opportunities for Women Award from the National Science Foundation, a Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Society for Text and Discourse, and Distinguished Service to Psychological Science Award from APA. In 2013, she received the Ernest R. Hilgard Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gernsbacher has served as President of the 25,000-member Association for Psychological Science, President of the Society for Text and Discourse, President of the Division of Experimental Psychology of the APA, President of the Foundation for the Advancement for Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Member-at-Large of the American Association for the Advancement in Science, Chair of the APA Board of Scientific Affairs, member of the Psychonomic Society Governing Board, the Medical Affairs Committee of the National Alliance for Autism Research, and the Advisory Committee of the Social, Behavioral, & Economic Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation. She currently serves on the Scientific Program committee for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Gernsbacher’s research has for over 30 years investigated the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie human communication. She has published over 150 journal articles and invited chapters. She has authored or edited 10 books, including Language Comprehension as Structure Building (Erlbaum, 1990); the Handbook of Psycholinguistics (Academic Press, 1994; Elsevier, 2006); Coherence in Spontaneous Text (Benjamins, 1995), the Handbook of Discourse Processes (Erlbaum, 2002), and two editions of Psychology and the Real World: Essays Illustrating Fundamental Contributions to Society (Worth, 2010; 2014). Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control, and several private foundations.