December 5, 2019
Dr. Anne Krendl, Indiana University
Healthy aging has been widely shown to have deleterious impacts on older adults’ (individuals over the age of 60) cognitive function, including their memory, executive function, and social cognition. Although the mechanisms associated with these declines have been widely studied, numerous questions remain. We thus used a network neuroscience approach to provide new insights into the effects of aging on the structure and function of brain networks. We focus specifically on the networks that support theory of mind (inferring others’ mental states), a core social cognitive function. There are two goals of this work: 1) to characterize how older adults’ brain networks differ from young adults’ (individuals between the ages of 18-30) at rest and during task; and 2) to characterize how these differences might affect older adults’ theory of mind. Together, these data will reveal more specific mechanisms of how aging impacts social cognitive function.
November 21, 2019
Dr. Alison Adcock, Duke University
Motivation guides and animates behavior based on predictions from memory representations. The role of motivation in reinforcement learning has long been studied in animal paradigms that require extrinsic incentives. Ironically, however, neuroscience is only recently coming to study how motivation guides memory to assemble complex models of the world and the pursuit of knowledge – motives that guide science itself. Now, a fortuitous explosion of tools for understanding the biology of human cognition allows linking such questions to the long and rich experimental traditions in animals. Specifically, the ability to characterize brain configurations associated with distinct motivational states offers exciting new insights into neuromodulatory systems associated with motivation and the neural foundations of adaptive memory formation. These biological findings, in turn, point to new behavioral predictions and questions about learning and memory. The work of the Adcock laboratory is to understand how motivation shapes memory formation and to help leverage that understanding to improve education, learning-based therapies, and biological targets for well-being. In this talk, I review our work to selectively use behavior to change the brain and to understand how motivational regulation may support specialized memories for successful human adaptation.
October 10, 2019
Dr. Angela Gutchess, Department of Psychology, Brandeis University
In my talk, I will discuss research my lab has conducted investigating the influences of aging and culture on memory. Although many losses and changes occur in traditional memory systems with age, declines may be more pronounced in some domains than others, some strategies may help to mitigate changes in memory, and the effectiveness of strategies could vary across individuals. I will discuss two lines of work, the first examining how self-referencing, relating information to the self, impacts memory and neural engagement. The second will focus on cross-cultural differences in memory, exploring how culture can act as a lens to shape information processing in terms of memory for specific visual details, the ways in which cultures differ in the engagement of underlying neural regions, and how these cultural differences could be impacted by aging.
September 25, 2019
Dr. Kathrin Ohla, Cognitive Neuroscience, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany
The taste system provides important information about the edibility and makro-nutrient content of a food via differentiation between taste qualities. Specific receptors on the tongue are activated by chemicals signifying a taste quality before the signal is conveyed to the brain. How this peripheral signal is used by the central nervous system to encode taste quality is largely unknown. Cortical activation patterns change rapidly, within milliseconds, rendering temporal information a candidate variable for taste quality coding. Using non-invasive electrophysiological recordings, which provide a window into taste-neuronal processing with millisecond resolution, I will illustrate that large-scale neuronal response patterns carry information about taste quality and bear significance to taste-related behavior. I will demonstrate that these neuronal response patterns carry information about which taste participants tasted and that their onset predicts the timing of perceptual decisions. Furthermore, I will present novel data that suggest that taste perception and neuronal responses are susceptible to information. Together, I aim to show that the information encoded in taste-related neural response patterns is also the foundation for gustatory decision-making and that the timing aligns with task-specific goals.
September 12, 2019
Dr. Jennifer Gutsell, Department of Psychology, Brandeis University
With increasing diversity in society and organizations, intergroup interactions will become a much more integral part of every American's day to day experience, requiring empathy, perspective-taking, and cooperation that can transcend across group boundaries. My and others' work shows that neural resonance, a basic neural process involved in these critical social functions, might be reduced or even absent during intergroup interactions. Usually, people show similar neural activation during experience and observation of similar experiences in others, and such neural resonance is thought to provide a basic, embodied understanding of the other's state potentially contributing to empathy. Often neural resonance has been thought of as a bottom-up process, but we now understand that it is affected by top-down cognitive and motivational factors including those based on social perception, biases, and the broader interaction context. In this talk, I will first review studies that suggest an ingroup bias in neural resonance: People show neural resonance in response to the actions and emotions of ingroup members, but not in response to the actions and emotions of outgroup members. I will then highlight biased empathy as a potential consequence of neural resonance biases by looking at to what extent neural resonance is associated with the tendency to empathize and with how accurately people infer others affective states. Finally, I will present a series of studies that explore facilitating and hampering conditions for cross-group neural resonance. I will end with an outlook on the methodological challenges and potential solutions to study neural processing involved in cross-group empathy within naturalistic interaction settings that take place in a broader cultural context.
April 18, 2019
Dr. Rosie Cowell, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Abstract: Accounts of cognition often assume that the brain is organized along lines of cognitive process, for example, with recollection mediated by one neural substrate and familiarity by another. We argue that cognitive processes – introspectively-identifiable mental events like recollection – are inadequate labels for characterizing neural mechanisms, because they conflate lower-level components of the mechanisms we seek to identify. Recollection involves both a neurocomputational operation (pattern completion) and a neural representation (high-dimensional, associative content). To uncover memory's mechanisms, we must decompose cognitive processes into their operations and representations, asking how each separately, and their interaction, gives rise to neural and behavioral phenomena. I will present theoretical and empirical work ‒ including connectionist simulations and fMRI data ̶ that implies we can replace process-based accounts of memory with a representational account. In other words, rather than explaining what different brain regions do by appeal to cognitive processes (e.g., recollection happens in hippocampus and familiarity in neocortex), we should appeal to representational content (high-dimensional representations are supported by hippocampus and lower-dimensional representations by neocortex).
March 14, 2019
Dr. Jonathan Peelle, Washington University in St. Louis
International Lounge, Usdan
Abstract: How does acoustic clarity affect the way our brains process speech, and how might this change with adult aging? I will review data from behavioral and brain imaging studies that speak to the added cognitive demands associated with acoustic challenge. Findings support a shared resource framework of speech comprehension in which domain-general cognitive processes are required for both auditory and linguistic processing. The specific patterns of neural activity depend on the difficulty of the speech being heard, as well as the hearing and cognitive ability of each individual listener. I will also talk about some preliminary work looking at how we might be able to help listeners compensate for cognitive challenges and improve their understanding of what they are hearing.
March 7, 2019
Dr. Mike Kahana, UPenn
International Lounge, Usdan
Abstract: Human memory function is highly variable, fluctuating between periods of high and low performance even within a given person. Neurosurgical patients with indwelling electrodes present a unique opportunity to study the neural correlates of this variability and to define both the features of neural activity at a given brain location and the functional connections between brain regions that predict variability in memory encoding and retrieval. Here, I will describe our recent efforts to characterize brain networks that support memory via correlative (passive neural recording) and causal (direct electrical stimulation) approaches. Throughout the brain, we find that low-frequency networks exhibit reduced local power but stronger functional connectivity during successful episodic encoding and retrieval. Furthermore, many canonical memory regions emerge as hubs of such low-frequency connections, including the lateral frontotemporal cortices, the parahippocampal gyrus – and within it – the entorhinal cortex. High-frequency bands (i.e. gamma, 30+ Hz) almost exclusively exhibit desynchronization during successful memory operations. We recently extended these correlative studies and used intracranial stimulation to ask whether functional connections imply causality. We confirmed that electrical stimulation evokes increases in theta power at remote regions, as predicted by the strength of low-frequency functional connections. This relation was strongest when stimulation occurred in or near white matter. These findings demonstrate the importance of low-frequency connectivity to episodic memory, integrating these findings over spatial scales and through causal and correlative approaches.
January 17, 2019
Dr. Catherine Hartley, NYU
Abstract: Computational reinforcement learning models provide a framework for understanding how individuals can evaluate which actions are beneficial and which are best avoided. To date, these models have primarily been leveraged to understand learning and decision-making in adults. In this talk, I will present studies characterizing developmental changes, from childhood to adulthood, in the cognitive representations and computations engaged to evaluate and select actions. I will discuss how these changes may optimize behavior for an individual’s developmental stage and unique life experiences.
September 27, 2018
Dr. Donald Katz, Brandeis University
International Lounge, Usdan
November 1, 2018
Dr. Meghan Meyer, Dartmouth
Location: Levine-Ross, Hassenfeld
November 29, 2018
Dr. Nancy Kanwisher, McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT
Location: International Lounge, Usdan
January 25, 2018
Featuring talks by:
Dr. Valerie Purdie Greenaway, Columbia University
Dr. Jiyoung Park, University of Texas at Dallas
Location: Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library
A special talk sponsored by the Chief Diversity Officer, Provost, and the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Heller, and IBS.
A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program
February 8, 2018
Arthur F. Kramer, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location: Alumni Lounge, Usdan
March 22, 2018
Dr. Richard N. Aslin, Yale University
Location: Luria 1-3, Hassenfeld
March 29, 2018
Dr. Joshua O. Goh, National Taiwan University
Location: Luria 1-3, Hassenfeld