Speakers - Block 1
Timothy Shallice is a professor of neuropsychology and the first director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (ICN). He has been a professor of Cognitive Neuroscience since 1994 and was influential in laying the foundations for the discipline of cognitive neuropsychology, by formalising many of its methods and assumptions in the book From Neuropsychology to Mental Structure. He has also worked on many core problems in cognitive psychology and neuropsychology, including executive function, language and memory. Together with psychologist Donald Norman, Shallice proposed a framework of attentional control of executive functioning. Tim’s talk will present a history of the ICN and the people that made the institute what it is today.
How we lay down new memories
Leun Otten is a Senior Lecturer in the UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences who joined the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in 1999. She leads a research group on human memory and the brain, and makes widespread contributions to educational excellence at the Institute. Leun’s research group investigates why we remember some things but forget others. There is growing evidence that for memory to be effective, the brain needs to be in the right state when new information is encountered.
In her talk, Leun will detail how science can investigate the creation of new memories, and will demonstrate this via the recording of electrical brain activity. She will explain what we currently know about the influence of brain states on everyday and special memories, in people of varying ages. She will also give a sneak preview about how this research may help people learn more, and forget less, in future.
Anxiety in the brain: adventures with a shock machine
Oliver Robinson is Principal Investigator on an MRC Career Development Award Fellowship and a Senior Research Associate at the ICN. His research programme attempts to understand the neuropsychopharmacological underpinnings of anxiety disorders by examining both patient populations and affective manipulations in healthy individuals (especially threat of shock and pharmacological manipulation). The main research tools used are computerized neuropsychological testing, computational models and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
In his talk, Oliver will focus on how to safely tune - using psychological and/or pharmacological intervention - prefrontal-subcortical circuits, in order to disengage pathological anxiety.
Social reward in healthy and clinical populations
Lucy is a research associate at the ICN. Her research asks questions such as: why do you spend time with others? What do you enjoy about it? Social reward can be defined as the motivational and pleasurable aspects of interacting with other people.
In this talk, Lucy will give an overview of what social reward is, and describe findings from her own and others’ research about different types of social reward. She will consider the importance of age: for example, do teenagers experience more reward from social interactions than other age groups? Then she will discuss several neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders associated with dysfunctional social reward, including autism, depression and psychopathy, and the implications this has for people’s social behaviour and relationships. The talk will finish by considering what future research questions need to be addressed to better understand how social reward is linked to clinical disorder and mental health, and whether we might be able to change people’s experience of social reward.