This workshop took place Apr 27-29, 2006.
Understanding the mechanisms of volition and self-directed behaviour is one of the most intriguing and important issues in contemporary neuroscience and a topic of intense research. The ability to produce purposeful intelligent behaviour that is highly adapted for our complex and ever-changing environments is a hallmark ability of higher primates. It reaches its greatest development in humans, enabling us to initiate goal-directed activities of astonishing complexity. This ability also provides the basis of our sense of agency, identify, and self. The processes that allow us to engage in such volitional, conscious behaviour are known as 'executive functions' and have been strongly linked to the anterior region of the brain, known as the prefrontal cortex. In the past several years, UBC has attracted a critical number of researchers who specialize in executive and prefrontal functions, from clinical investigators of mental disorders to basic scientists in neurophysiology and neuroimaging of prefrontal functions.
The proposed workshop will combine a strong basic research component in neural and cognitive sciences with the most recent findings from clinical neuroscience and the mechanisms of disorders of executive functions. Leading researchers from the local UBC community will be represented, along with key international experts in diverse areas related to executive functions.
This workshop will foster discussion and scientific interactions that will help the much needed transfer of knowledge between clinical work and basic research in this area, and will determine future directions for theoretical and applied work. In bringing together researchers from several departments at UBC, this program will assist in building interactions and a strong local community. Of equal importance, it will also enhance international visibility and recognition to UBC as a centre of expertise and research excellence in the area of executive and prefrontal cortex functions.