MERLIN DONALD, PhD
Merlin Donald was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. He had a very broad undergraduate education emphasizing philosophy, classics, and biology, and obtained a PhD in neuropsychology from McGill University. He spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the West Haven Veterans Administration Medical Center, followed by almost three years as a research neuropsychologist there, with an adjunct appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine.
He moved to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in 1972, becoming a professor in the department of psychology, with adjunct appointments in the Faculty of Education and the department of psychiatry (Faculty of Medicine). He served a term as head of the department of psychology. He retired from Queen’s to become professor and chair of the department of cognitive science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. He retired from full-time teaching and administration in 2007. He is currently professor emeritus at Queen’s, adjunct professor at Case, and honorary professor at Aarhus, University, Denmark.
He is the author of over a hundred scientific papers and two influential books: Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition (Harvard, 1991), and A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness (Norton, 2001). His work has been translated into ten languages. He has been a visiting professor at University College London, Harvard, Stanford, UCSD, Lund, Aarhus, and elsewhere, as well as a visiting fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California. He spent two years as a Killam Research Fellow. He is currently a fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association, the Royal Society of Canada, and the World Academy of Art & Science. His work has been widely debated in various academic disciplines, including linguistics, archaeology, anthropology, biology, cognitive science, psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience.
Most of Merlin Donald’s early empirical work was in the field of human cognitive neuroscience. During the past 25 years, he has focused on the topic that drew him to psychology in the first place: human intellectual and cognitive origins. His work bridges several disciplines in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. His central thesis is that human beings have evolved a completely novel cognitive strategy — brain-culture symbiosis — whereby the human brain cannot realize its design potential unless it is immersed during its development in a distributed communication network: that is, a symbolic culture. In effect, symbolic representation emerged from interactions between brain and culture, including, importantly, material culture and technology. At present, he is living near Toronto, Ontario, and working on the topic of how cognition is governed in cultural networks.
BRUNO GALANTUCCI, PhD
Bruno Galantucci received a PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Padua and a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Connecticut. He is currently associate professor in the department of psychology of Yeshiva University, where he directs the Experimental Semiotics Laboratory. He is also a research affiliate at the Haskins Laboratories, where he has conducted research on the psychology of language, including speech perception, word recognition, and sentence processing, and has been a research fellow at ZIF (University of Bielefeld), where he has conducted research on embodied communication. In the last few years, he has focused on studying experimentally how humans establish and develop novel forms of communication, contributing to the foundation of the field of Experimental Semiotics. In 2010, he received an award from the National Science Foundation (USA) supporting research at the Experimental Semiotics Laboratory.
Bruno Galantucci has published in a number of peer-reviewed journals including Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, Cognitive Science, Topics in Cognitive Science, and Journal of Experimental Psychology. He also served as associate editor of Topics in Cognitive Science, as guest editor of Interaction Studies (co-editing a special issue on Experimental Semiotics), and as a guest editor of Topics in Cognitive Science (co-editing a special issue on Joint Action).
His current research interests include experimental semiotics, human communication, joint action, distributed cognition, social cognition, language, and speech science.
GÖRAN SONESSON, PhD
Göran Sonesson is Professor of Semiotics at Lund University, where he directs the Semiotics Seminar since 1986, and the head of the Centre for cognitive semiotics, starting in 2009. He was the initiator of the doctorate in semiotics at Lund University which formally begun its existence in 1998.
Sonesson was the first president of the Swedish Society for Semiotic Studies (SFFS), as well as president of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS) between 1992 and 2011. Since 2001, he has been Secretary General of the International Association for Visual Semiotics (IAVS/AISV).
Sonesson holds a doctorate in general linguistics from Lund University, and a doctorate in semiotics from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. From 1974 to 1981, he was a member of the Groupe de recherches sémio-linguistiques, directed by A.J. Greimas, where he headed a section concerned with gestures. Between 1981 and 1982, he conducted research in semiotics and linguistics in Mexico, particularly as applied to Mayan languages and culture.
He have been concerned with general and visual semiotics, the semiotics of gesture, linguistics, the semiotics of culture and, more recently, evolutionary and developmental semiotics.
Since his return to Sweden and Lund University in 1983, Sonesson has been instrumental in the introduction of semiotic research in Sweden. His most well-known word concerns the semiotics of pictures. For these last few years, the focus of his work has been on the development and evolution of semiotic resources. He was involved in a project, in collaboration with linguistics and cognitive science, the theme of which was the semiotic development of language, gesture, and pictures (SGB). This was followed by an EU-project concerned with Stages in the Evolution and Development of Sign Use (SEDSU), and later by the Centre for cognitive semiotics, initiated in 2009.
Sonesson has published numerous articles in such internationally recognized publications of as Semiotica, Degrés, RS/SI, Actes sémiotiques, Zeitschrift für Semiotik, VISIO, Sign System Studies, etc. His book Pictorial concepts (Lund: Lund University Press 1989) has been hailed as a fundamental contribution to the field of visual semiotics. He have also published, in Swedish, the first text book covering the entire field of visual semiotics existing in any language, Bildbetydelser (Lund: Studentlittertur. Moreover, he was advisory editor for visual semiotics of the Encyclopedia of Semiotics, published by Oxford University Press in 1998, for which he wrote many of the entries. He has also written the chapters on visual semiotics in Encyclopedic dictionary of semiotics, edited by Sebeok, Thomas A., & Danesi, Marcel. Berlin & New York: De Gruyter Mouton. 3. rev. and updated ed.; as well in Visual communication Handbook, de Gruyter and Handbook of Semiotics, Springer, both forthcoming.