Spring Semester 2018
25 April 2018 – Dr Huw Williams University of Exeter The – usually – hidden brain injury: a target for violence prevention?
Neurodisabilities (NDs) have been known to be present in people in custody. The links between NDs and crime are not well understood. Crime is, of course, multi-determined with a host of risk factors.
However, we have identified how Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a key factor in violent crime. It is linked to earlier, more violent and persistent, offending. Importantly, it can be managed. More than half of people in prisons have had a brain injury. Many with significant injury (2 in 10). Brain Injury leads people to being impulsive, poor at problem-solving, and with poor social communication skills – with increased chances of mental health and drug misuse.
TBI is a key factor in the development of "Personality" factors linked to offending - particularly from childhood and young adulthood. We have shown that TBI in young people in custody (average age 16) is linked to suicidality.
Various bodies in UK (YJB & MoJ, NICE, Justice Committees of Scottish and London Parliaments), New Zealand (Youth Justice), France (Ministry of Health) and USA (Juvenile systems New York) have implemented new initiatives to take account of TBI. To improve rehabilitation of offenders, and reduce crime in society.
Initiatives include: screening for TBI; TBI Link-workers in prisons and enhanced formulation for vulnerable young people (YJB Wales). By addressing TBI and NDs it is likely that interventions may be improved."
2 May 2018 – Professor Harold Bekkering University of Nijmegen Exteroceptive and proprioceptive contributions to the prediction of other's actions
It is argued that the primary function of the brain is too minimize prediction errors about how the world will look like next. Other agents are affecting the world massively.
In series of experiments, we investigated the contribution of exteroceptive and proprioceptive experiences on how well we can predict other's actions to shed some new light on the underlying brain circuits and early cognitive development of action prediction mechanisms.
9 May 2018 – Dr Roger Newport
University of Loughborough Unexpected Body Representations
The representation of the body in the brain (how our body feels to us) is built on sensory information and prior expectations, the experience of which is only accessible to each individual.
Understanding how sensory information modifies (or fails to modify) prior expectations and vice versa – may be the key to understanding a range of body representation disorders in which the body perceived by the individual is very different from reality.
Unexpected body representations that challenge prior expectations and/or modify sensory perception are relatively easy to induce in most healthy individuals, but can these techniques be utilised in clinical populations to help those with distorted body representations?
16 May 2018 – Professor Nicola Bruno University of Parma Understanding Selfies: Theory, taxonomy and data
We live in the age of selfies, but selfies have received relatively little attention within the social cognitive sciences. Based on early work on proxemic behavior [proxemics refers to the amount of space that people set between themselves and others] and on partial results already in the literature, I will propose a theoretical framework for understanding selfies as a novel form of nonverbal communication.
This framework proves useful to define a non-arbitrary taxonomy of the selfie genre and to spell out empirical predictions about selfie-related proxemic indices, compositional features of selfie images that can be related to communicative intentions for self-presentation by the selfie takers.
I will conclude presenting empirical tests of some of these predictions using different types of selfie databases.
A comprehensive understanding of selfies may have implications for theoretical accounts of nonverbal communication, for social policies, and for some technological applications.
21 March 2018 – Professor Steve Strand
University of Oxford English as an Additional Language and educational achievement in England.
In England there are now over 1.25 million pupils aged 5–16 recorded as having English as an Additional Language (EAL), representing over 1-in-6 (18%) of all pupils.
Drawing on a major report he produced for the Educational Endowment Foundation (EEF), Steve will present an analysis of the England National Pupil Database (NPD) and summarise issues regarding trends, demographics and educational achievement of these young people at age 5, 7, 11 and 16.
Both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses will be presented, controlling for a range of confounding variables. Broadly speaking pupils with EAL start school with lower achievement than their mono-lingual English speaking peers, but there is no maths gap at age 11 and a negligible gap in overall achievement at age 16.
The presentation will tease out the particular groups and combinations of factors associated with the risk of low educational achievement and consider implications for schools, Local Authorities and national Government, including how they collect and use a wide range of data to identify, fund and address educational needs.
14 March 2018 – Dr Harriet Tenenbaum
University of Surrey Children's Reasoning about Economic Inequality
Two studies investigated aspects of children's reasoning about economic inequality. In the first study, children completed a Brief Implicit Association Task (BIAT) about social class.
Child (aged 7, 9, and 11 years) were also read six vignettes in which an adult protagonist determined outcomes for children from either a lower- or an upper-class background.
Although nine - and 11-year-old children demonstrated implicit bias, seven-year-old children did not. It was not until nine years of age, however, children were able to incorporate information about the likelihood of discrimination into account when deciding whether a class-related behaviour was unfair.
In the second study, Participants (8, 11, 14, and 20 years) were asked to judge and reason about the acceptability of social exclusion from novel groups by children and head teachers and were assigned to one of three conditions, in which novel groups varied based on unequal economic status, location, or no reason.
When judging a head teacher as a perpetrator, eight-year-olds assigned to the unequal economic status condition rated exclusion as worse than those assigned to the other conditions.
In contrast, 14-year-olds assigned to the unequal economic condition rated exclusion as more acceptable than those assigned to the other conditions. 11-, and 14-, and 20-year-olds used reasoning to suggest that they accepted exclusion based on economic inequality.
The studies converge in suggesting that with age, people accept economic inequality and do not perceive it as unfair.
7 March 2018 – Dr. Diego S. Maranan
University of the Philippines Open University Haplós: Using and contributing to the cognitive sciences by designing vibrating clothing
Impactful, interdisciplinary collaboration – in which the sciences, arts, and humanities contribute and benefit equally – is difficult to achieve. In this talk, new media artist Diego Maranan discusses how theories and approaches from the cognitive sciences were brought to bear on a collaborative, interdisciplinary, arts-based research in wearable technology, which in turn led to novel findings and new research directions in the cognitive and social sciences, as well as potential commercial applications.
Drawing from somaesthetic philosophy, somatic practices, and technology design, Diego's research culminated in Haplós – a novel, wearable, programmable, remotely controlled technology using vibrating motors that can increase body awareness.
In collaboration with members of the Cravings Lab at the University of Plymouth, Haplós was also used in a controlled experiment to investigate how vibrotactile stimuli could influence food cravings.
Haplós was also used in RE/ME, a collaborative project exploring how to manipulate the perception of one's body size and shape, and which was recently awarded a grant to enable further development at a technology incubator in the Silicon Valley.
Other potential applications of Haplós and tentative recommendations for how to successfully drive art-science collaborations will be discussed.
28 February 2018 – Dr Andrew Logan Bradford University Identifying Impairments of Face Perception with a Novel Clinical Test
Faces are amongst the most complex stimuli that the visual system processes. To quantify face discrimination sensitivity, we use synthetic faces which combine simplicity with sufficient realism to permit individual identification.
We have developed a new clinical test of face perception which is fast (three to four minutes), repeatable (test-re-test r2=0.795) and can capture normal variability. The Caledonian face test uses an adaptive procedure to measure face discrimination thresholds; the minimum difference required between individual identities for reliable discrimination.
A case report of a patient with suspected developmental prosopagnosia indicated that the test is highly sensitive to impairments of face perception (Z-score of -7; c.f. Z-score of -2 for existing face tests).
An investigation of the effect of healthy ageing on face discrimination ability revealed that sensitivity to full faces continuously declined by approximately 13% per decade, after 50 years of age.
While older adults performed poorer in every aspect of face perception, there was no effect of age for shape discrimination in an otherwise identical test protocol. This suggests that face discrimination may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of healthy ageing. Current work aims to quantify the effect of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a leading cause of visual impairment in the UK on face discrimination ability.
On average, AMD reduces sensitivity to full faces by a factor of approximately 1.75X. Our data suggest that AMD does not impair discrimination of all face features equally, but disproportionately reduces sensitivity to those which facilitate aspects of non-verbal communication (e.g. facial expressions).
21 February 2018 – Professor Aldo Badiani University of Sussex Your brain on drugs: Not the same everywhere
Addictive drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or alcohol are often thought to be the same in their ability to produce ‘pleasure’ by activating the ‘reward’ circuitry of the brain.
In this lecture, I will show that different classes of drugs produce unique neurobiological effects and distinctive internal states, which in turn are exquisitely sensitive to the environment surrounding drug use.
14 February 2018 – Professor Howard Bowman
Universities of Birmingham and Kent at Canterbury The Theory and Practice of Breakthrough Percepts, with Application to Deception Detection on the Fringe of Awareness
The brain searches the environment for salient stimuli. We argue that this process is, at least in part, subliminal, with stimuli that are salient breaking into awareness.
We investigate this breakthrough process with Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP), in which stimuli are presented rapidly (perhaps 12 per second) at the same spatial location.
The Fringe-P3 method combines RSVP with EEG to provide a concealed knowledge test, which we have demonstrated has high sensitivity and specificity. Importantly, we have also shown that the Fringe-P3 method is resistant to the standard counter-measures that have confounded other deception detectors.
This is due to the rapid mode of presentation, which renders participants unable to identify the control/irrelevant stimulus. Taking inspiration from these counter-measures experiments, we have further shown that in RSVP, the evidence does not accumulate across repetitions of a stimulus, unless it breaks through into awareness.
This provides supporting evidence for a prediction of the Simultaneous Type/Serial Token model that the representation of episodic information is a conscious process.