ESP Biography

ZOE LEE, Neuroscientist and Philosopher in Training!

Major: Psychology

College/Employer: UCLA Splash

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of Zoe Lee

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Zoe is a neuroscientist and philosopher in training, investigating the human (and other) minds. Driven by her love for cognitive science and its interdisciplinary nature, she continues her intellectual adventures by approaching everyday phenomena in light of the mysteries of mind and brain. She founded The Quale [kwah-lee], an organization at UCLA that brings together not only neuroscience and psychology but also other fields including philosophy, art, literature, economics, and film to unravel the secrets of the mind such as perception, memory, and emotions. Her research interests are as wide as they can be, but to mention a few: mental imagery, neuroimaging and modulation techniques, and of course, consciousness.

Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

S14757: Hack Your Brain to Productivity: Exploiting Psychological Principles to Getting Things Done in Splash 2021 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2021)
We all *know* we shouldn't procrastinate, but why do we? In this class, we'll explore some psychological principles that may explain why we are led astray from productivity as well as how simple strategies can help us overcome our tendencies and get more done.

H14068: Searching for Minds, Metaphysically: Introduction to Philosophy of Consciousness in HSSP Summer 2020 (Jul. 11, 2020)
In this class, we will contemplate the nature of what seems, at first glance, obvious to us-- the mind! Although we hardly ever question the existence of our and others' minds in everyday life, proving this seemingly undeniable fact has perplexed philosophers and scientists for centuries. And it still does! As the term 'artificial intelligence', or 'AI', has become ubiquitous in movies, TV shows, and the news over the past few decades, deciding for ourselves (or better, as a community) what counts as having a mind and what doesn't seems increasingly important. (Think Westworld and some Black Mirror episodes, self-driving cars, AlphaGo, ...) This class aims to introduce the elementary philosophical (and time permitting, some neuroscience and computer science) groundwork and tools with which you can begin to analytically evaluate various instances of alleged "minds", including our own, our friends', our pets', and our trusty Roomba's. (Roombas most likely don't have a mind. A better example: Samantha from the movie Her.) We will tackle this task by addressing the following questions each week: 1. What is consciousness? Am I conscious? 2. Is (my human friend) Amy conscious? 3. Is (my dog) Fido conscious? 4. Is (the robot) Sophia conscious? 5. Is (my digital clone) ME 2.0 conscious? The last week will be reserved for discussing real-life and sci-fi examples, applications, and remaining questions. (See also S14132: Searching for Minds, Empirically: Introduction to Neuroscience of Consciousness, for a class on the what scientists are doing to find consciousness in the brain!)

S14132: Searching for Minds, Empirically: Introduction to Neuroscience of Consciousness in HSSP Summer 2020 (Jul. 11, 2020)
We all have a mind, or consciousness, that we believe is at the core of our identity. And for a very long time (since 8000BCE!), we have known that what the mind experiences depends on the activity of the brain. So, as science often comes to aid in answering big questions, when we ponder how the brain gives rise to the mind and attempt to fit this seemingly immaterial entity into the rest of the physical world, we turn to the empirical study of the brain: neuroscience. In this class, we will look at some ways that neuroscience has progressed in recent years in finding consciousness in the brain, as well as some challenges that empirical science faces in doing so. We will tackle this task by addressing the following questions each week: 1. What is consciousness? How do we define and search for the invisible mind in the physical world? 2. What happens when consciousness is not there? 3. How do we measure consciousness? 4. Can you be conscious.. but also unconscious? 5. Can consciousness arise from stuff that is not brain-matter (i.e. neurons)? 6. Can the "self", our subjective experience, be measured with neuroscience? (See also H14068: Searching for Minds, Metaphysically: Introduction to Philosophy of Consciousness, for a class on the philosophical discussion of consciousness!)

S13411: Mind-Reading and Mind-Control: How to measure and manipulate your brain in Splash 2019 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2019)
As science and technology advances at an incredible rate, it seems that we are getting closer to the realization of sci-fi mind-reading and mind-control. But how close are we, really? In the first hour, we will discuss various neuroimaging methods of how scientists measure the brain's activities, such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), EEG (electroencephalography), and DTI (diffusion tensor imaging), and the physics behind their mechanism. We will try reading someone's brain activities in real time, using EEG. (You can volunteer if you are ok with getting some goo on your hair/scalp! Not harmful, comes off with a wash.) In the second hour, we will discuss some non-invasive neurostimulation techniques (ones that don't require making a hole in your skull) for manipulating the brain's activities, such as TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) and LIFUP (low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation), and the physics behind their mechanism. In the third hour, we will explore some ways that these neuroimaging and neurostimulation methods are being used by scientists, doctors, and civilians. We will end the class by assessing how effective the techniques are and how close we are to mind-reading and brainwashing.

L12231: Dazed and Confused: The Science and Art of Illusions in Spark 2018 (Mar. 17 - 18, 2018)
You probably know that your legs look longer in high-cut bathing suits than in calf-length pants. Why is that? In this class, we will address that question by blowing our minds with illusions! Dazed and confused? But there is no magic involved- it's all in your head! But does this mean that your brain is unreliable? We will explore the mechanism in your eyes and brain that leads to these illusions and how this is cleverly used around us, in architecture, art, TV shows, and even in nature.