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Translational Cognitive Neuroscience Lab

 
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A superlist combining individual seminars and series from other lists on talks.cam. These Neuroscience-themed seminars will be advertised throughout the relevant interest group in Cambridge.
Updated: 17 min 57 sec ago

Wed 29 May 15:00: Cambridge Overcoming Polarisation Initiative

Mon, 27/05/2024 - 11:39
Cambridge Overcoming Polarisation Initiative

The rise of political polarization presents an increasingly troubling threat to democracies worldwide and peace globally. Established and emerging democracies are seeing far-right political figures ascend to power amidst growing internal social division. At the same time, economic concerns, wars, and growing distrust further polarize entire groups of nations.

What is the lived experience of polarization? How does it manifest within societies, both inside and outside of politics? And what can be done to reverse the course and build coalition once again?

The Cambridge Overcoming Polarization Initiative sets out to answer these questions. Over the course of a year, we engaged professors, researchers, and business leaders to gain diverse perspectives on polarization, its threat to social order, and examples of things actually getting better. This presentation summarises those findings and introduces new questions for continued study.

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Mon 24 Jun 10:00: Causal inference during motion perception, and its neural basis

Fri, 17/05/2024 - 09:17
Causal inference during motion perception, and its neural basis

Short abstract: In this talk I’ll present our work on explaining motion perception as hierarchical causal inference. I’ll describe the intuitions behind the theory and show new psychophysics data task that quantitatively tests our theory. I’ll also describe our work in progress on using neural responses to test our theory, as well as Bayesian models of behavior in general.

Long abstract: If motion is always defined relative to a reference frame, what is the brain’s reference frame for the perception of a moving object? A century of psychophysical studies has provided us with seemingly conflicting evidence about motion perception in a variety of reference frames: from egocentric, to world-centric, to reference frames defined by other moving objects. We present a hierarchical Bayesian model which describes how observed retinal velocities give rise to perceived velocities. The hierarchically recurring generative model motif represents each perceived object’s motion in its natural reference frame which reflects the causal structure of the world. The degeneracy of object motion and reference frame motion is broken by a spike and slab prior reflecting the fact that most objects are exactly stationary in their natural reference frame. Data from three new psychophysical experiments quantitatively confirm key predictions of our model. Finally, I will present a stepwise method for generating neural predictions from our, and other, Bayesian models of the brain, and for comparing them against each other using neural data. Interestingly, a neural circuit implementing a generalized version of divisive normalization can generate the center-surround tuning curves predicted by causal inference.

Related manuscripts: Shivkumar, S., DeAngelis, G. C., & Haefner, R. M. (2023). Hierarchical motion perception as causal inference. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.11.18.567582 Lengyel, G., Shivkumar, S., & Haefner, R. M. (2023). A General Method for Testing Bayesian Models using Neural Data. UniReps: The First Workshop on Unifying Representations in Neural Models. https://openreview.net/forum?id=oWJP0NhcY7

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Fri 24 May 10:00: Circuit for memory-based action selection

Fri, 17/05/2024 - 09:05
Circuit for memory-based action selection

Animal behavior is shaped both by evolution and by individual experience. In many species parallel brain pathways encode innate and learnt valences of stimuli. Furthermore, within the learning centers, opposite valences may be associated with the same cues, in parallel. How these opposing valences are integrated into an overall predicted value and used to drive a single coherent action is not well understood. In insects, the Mushroom Body Output Neurons (MBONs) and the Lateral Horn Neurons (LHNs) are thought to provide the learnt and innate drives, respectively. However, their patterns of convergence and the mechanisms by which their outputs are used to select actions are not well understood. Our recently published connectome of the entire Drosophila larval brain has revealed a complex, multi-layered network of neurons downstream of MBO Ns and LHNs and upstream of descending neurons that implements action selection. To discover the basic operational principles of this action-selection network, we have performed an optogenetic activation screen for neurons that promote distinct actions, and we have characterised the responses of these neurons to stimuli of distinct innate and learnt valances. Together, these studies reveal the circuit mechanisms allowing integration of opposing drives from parallel olfactory pathways.

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Mon 03 Jun 12:30: Advances in fMRI Data Acquisition Techniques

Thu, 16/05/2024 - 10:59
Advances in fMRI Data Acquisition Techniques

Speaker: Visiting in person – Prof. Benedikt Poser (Maastricht University)

Bio: Professor Benedikt Poser is a renowned scientist in the field of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), particularly known for his work on advanced neuroimaging techniques. He has significantly contributed to the development of methods such as multi-band imaging and functional MRI at ultra-high magnetic fields, enhancing the ability to study brain function and structure with greater precision. Prof. Poser is currently affiliated with Maastricht University in the Netherlands, where he continues to advance MRI technology and its applications in cognitive and clinical neuroscience.

Title: Advances in fMRI Data Acquisition Techniques

Abstract: I will first focus on echo-planar imaging readouts which have long been the workhorse for fMRI, but continue on a remarkable trajectory of imaging speed-up and data improvement. Non-Cartesian imaging is now gaining more interest for various functional contrasts, thanks to the flexibility in encoding and echo time choices. I will then also touch on other promising acquisition methods for laminar imaging, including line scan, FLASH readouts, as well as contrasts. The last part of the talk is focussed on how parallel RF transmission can add to image quality in 2D and 3D acquisitions and enable region selective excitations.

Venue: MRC CBU Lecture Theatre and Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82385113580?pwd=RmxIUmphQW9Ud1JBby9nTDQzR0NRdz09

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Wed 22 May 15:00: Tin Foil Confessions: Escaping The Cult Of Conspiracy

Wed, 15/05/2024 - 17:23
Tin Foil Confessions: Escaping The Cult Of Conspiracy

From Conspiracist to Ex-Conspiracist: Brent Lee’s Journey Out of the Rabbit Hole

• Brent Lee, a former conspiracist who was deeply entrenched in the world of conspiracy theories from 2003 to 2018, shares his personal journey of transformation and the factors that led him to question and ultimately reject his previous beliefs.

• Lee’s initial exposure to conspiracy theories began in 2003 when he stumbled upon a file-sharing application called DC++ and discovered a folder of videos related to the Illuminati and Freemasons.

• He became engrossed in the works of prominent conspiracy theorists such as Jordan Maxwell, William Cooper, David Icke, and Alex Jones, consuming their books, videos, and radio appearances obsessively.

• Lee actively engaged with other conspiracy theorists on online forums, contributing to the development of alternative narratives for events like the 7/7 London bombings and decoding hidden symbols in high-profile events.

• However, doubts began to arise when he encountered increasingly outlandish theories, such as the Sandy Hook massacre being a hoax, Justin Bieber and Eminem being Illuminati clones, and the rise of flat earth proponents.

• As his interests in politics, religion, society, and culture expanded, Lee found himself increasingly at odds with the grand conspiracy narrative and the logistics of how it could function in the real world.

• Significant global events, such as the rise of QAnon, the election of Donald Trump, Brexit, and the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, further challenged his belief in a predetermined new world order.

https://www.tinfoilconfessions.com/my-story

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Fri 11 Oct 16:30: Title to be confirmed

Tue, 07/05/2024 - 15:39
Title to be confirmed

Abstract not available

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Mon 20 May 10:00: Integrated Spin model with global inhibition for decision making

Mon, 06/05/2024 - 20:41
Integrated Spin model with global inhibition for decision making

Humans and other organisms make decisions choosing between different options, with the aim to maximize the reward. The main theoretical framework for modeling the decision-making process has been based on the highly successful drift-diffusion model, which is a simple tool for explaining many aspects of this process. Recently, it was found that during high cognitive load and situations of uncertainty, inhibition of neuronal firing increases, but the origin of this phenomenon is not understood. Motivated by this observation, we extend a recently developed model for decision-making while animals move towards targets in real space. We introduce an Ising-type model, which includes global inhibition, and explore its role in the decision-making process. This model can explain how the brain may utilize modulation of inhibition to improve its decision-making accuracy. Compared to experimental results, this model suggests that the regime of the brain’s decision-making activity is in proximity to a critical state. Within the model, the critical region near the transition line has the advantageous property of enabling a significant decrease in error with a small increase in inhibition and also exhibits unique properties with respect to learning and memory decay.

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Wed 08 May 15:00: Radicalisation and Violent Extremism: Trends, Drivers, Solutions

Mon, 06/05/2024 - 13:02
Radicalisation and Violent Extremism: Trends, Drivers, Solutions

Incel, conspiracy theorist, and neo-Nazi movements once belonged on the fringes of the political spectrum. Today, their ideas are becoming more widespread, accelerated by global conflict, economic crisis, and rapid technological change. Extremists across the world have skillfully expanded their reach by using cutting-edge technologies. They have also attracted the youngest generations by gamifying their communication and impacted politics by entering surprising coalitions. In recent years, online campaigns to intimidate politicians, journalists, and activists, as well as online efforts to radicalise wider groups of people towards violence, have become increasingly common. Security experts have warned that both mainstream and fringe cyberspaces (so-called alt-tech platforms) have turned into hotbeds for viral hate and the inspiration of violence. This has often left security services overwhelmed with the sheer amount of potential threats to national security.

Yet, not everyone who makes explicit threats of violence will translate their words into action. Likewise, not everyone who will commit an act of extreme violence threatens to do so beforehand. Some will even intentionally scratch the boundaries of legality by using the rhetorical weapon of satire, leading intelligence officers into a tricky security-versus-freedom dilemma. Judgement on whether a user who engages in “shitposting” constitutes a risk to violence can be difficult; yet the stakes are high. The intersection of satire and hate has escalated in a new phenomenon of political violence: gamified terrorism. As we have been able to observe the growing relationship between trolling and terrorism, traditional counter-terrorism mechanisms have become increasingly unhelpful in assessing and dealing with this emerging threat.

Based on her research, Dr Julia Ebner will give insights into patterns of radicalisation across different ideologies as well as emerging global trends in extremist mobilisation. Throughout the seminar, she will address questions such as: Why have outlandish extremist ideas taken hold in liberal democracies and how do they spread online? What are the pull and push factors that drive radicalisation, and when do they pose a risk for national security? Can would-be perpetrators of extreme violence be reliably identified by the linguistic traces they unintentionally leave behind in their online communications? In closing, she will propose a set of solutions to tackle the spread of violent extremism and to prevent acts of terrorism.

This talk is in person only and is hosted by Edoardo Chidichimo.

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Wed 08 May 15:00: Radicalisation and Violent Extremism: Trends, Drivers, Solutions

Mon, 06/05/2024 - 12:54
Radicalisation and Violent Extremism: Trends, Drivers, Solutions

Incel, conspiracy theorist, and neo-Nazi movements once belonged on the fringes of the political spectrum. Today, their ideas are becoming more widespread, accelerated by global conflict, economic crisis, and rapid technological change. Extremists across the world have skillfully expanded their reach by using cutting-edge technologies. They have also attracted the youngest generations by gamifying their communication and impacted politics by entering surprising coalitions. In recent years, online campaigns to intimidate politicians, journalists, and activists, as well as online efforts to radicalise wider groups of people towards violence, have become increasingly common. Security experts have warned that both mainstream and fringe cyberspaces (so-called alt-tech platforms) have turned into hotbeds for viral hate and the inspiration of violence. This has often left security services overwhelmed with the sheer amount of potential threats to national security. Yet, not everyone who makes explicit threats of violence will translate their words into action. Likewise, not everyone who will commit an act of extreme violence threatens to do so beforehand. Some will even intentionally scratch the boundaries of legality by using the rhetorical weapon of satire, leading intelligence officers into a tricky security-versus-freedom dilemma. Judgement on whether a user who engages in “shitposting” constitutes a risk to violence can be difficult; yet the stakes are high. The intersection of satire and hate has escalated in a new phenomenon of political violence: gamified terrorism. As we have been able to observe the growing relationship between trolling and terrorism, traditional counter-terrorism mechanisms have become increasingly unhelpful in assessing and dealing with this emerging threat. Based on her research, Dr Julia Ebner will give insights into patterns of radicalisation across different ideologies as well as emerging global trends in extremist mobilisation. Throughout the seminar, she will address questions such as: Why have outlandish extremist ideas taken hold in liberal democracies and how do they spread online? What are the pull and push factors that drive radicalisation, and when do they pose a risk for national security? Can would-be perpetrators of extreme violence be reliably identified by the linguistic traces they unintentionally leave behind in their online communications? In closing, she will propose a set of solutions to tackle the spread of violent extremism and to prevent acts of terrorism.

This talk is in person only and is hosted by Edoardo Chidichimo.

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Tue 11 Jun 09:30: Child Development Forum Easter II

Fri, 03/05/2024 - 12:07
Child Development Forum Easter II

Abigail Agyemang (Psychology/Education) – Mathematics Anxiety in Underrepresented Secondary School Children

Irena Tetkovic (Psychiatry) – SIBWELL : Supporting siblings of children and young people with mental health conditions in their wellbeing

Keith Liang (Psychology) – Rhythm in Speech, rhythm in brain, and learning to read in adolescence in East Asia

Child Development Forum are a series of talks bringing together researchers of infant, child and adolescent development across the University of Cambridge.

Talks are termly, and usually held at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (Chaucer Road).

Join the mailing list to kept up-to-date, and sign up to give a talk:

https://lists.cam.ac.uk/sympa/info/ucam-childdevforum

This talk is part of the Child Development Forum (CDF) series.

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Tue 14 May 12:00: Title to be confirmed

Fri, 03/05/2024 - 09:46
Title to be confirmed

Abstract not available

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Thu 23 May 16:00: How innate immune cells adapt to environment and function: diverse tales of mitochondria

Thu, 02/05/2024 - 10:06
How innate immune cells adapt to environment and function: diverse tales of mitochondria

Innate immune cells, such as macrophages and dendritic cells, inhabit all body organs to detect danger and initiate immune responses as well as to maintain organ health. However, the mechanisms facilitating those diverse functions of innate immune cells in distinct tissue milieus are poorly understood.

Recently, we found tissue macrophages to engage their mitochondrial metabolism in an organ-specific manner. Mechanistically, they adapt the activity of their mitochondrial electron transport chain to handle large amounts of environmental lipids in homeostasis. This functional dependence of tissue macrophages on mitochondrial metabolism can be harnessed to ameliorate obesity-related pathologies. On the other hand, innate immune cells have to quickly respond to insults and activate immunity for containment, in particular conventional dendritic cells. We discovered a differential bioenergetic dependence of the immunogenic responsiveness of type 1 versus type 2 dendritic cells (unpublished data). The distinct engagement of mitochondrial metabolism regulates the epigenetic state and functional outputs of dendritic cell subsets and affects their potency to induce anti-cancer immunity.

Overall, my talk will focus on how mitochondria and an active electron transport chain regulate the context-dependent functions of innate immune cells via entirely distinct molecular mechanisms.

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Wed 01 May 15:00: Behavioural Science and Security: Informing Evidence-based Policy and Practice

Tue, 30/04/2024 - 12:29
Behavioural Science and Security: Informing Evidence-based Policy and Practice

This talk will give an overview of how and why risk perception and communication are important by sharing collaborative work, discussing some of the UK systems and Behavioural and Social Science policy advice.

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Cambridge Memory Meeting 2015

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