Summer School 2017






Opening Remarks

Session 1: High-field neuroimaging as a window into cortical function

Chair: Tamar Makin

09:30 10:15

Emrah Duzel

University Hospital Magdeburg, Germany &  University College London, United Kingdom


Heidi Johansen-Berg

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

High Field MRI for the study of adaptive brain plasticity

High field MRI offers increased sensitivity to subtle changes in brain structure and function with experience. This talk will first discuss examples using high field structural MRI to detect changes in white matter microstructure following altered experience or brain activity in both humans and rodents. A second set of examples will demonstrate how high resolution fMRI at 7T can be used to map individual digit representations and how they alter with experience.


Coffee Break


Rainer Goebel

University of Maastricht, The Netherlands:

Imaging cortical columns and layers in the human brain at ultra-high magnetic fields: From maps to cognition

Ultra-high magnetic field (UHF) scanners (7 Tesla and higher) provide the possibility to study the functional organisation of the human brain at the level of cortical columns and cortical layers. First progress has been achieved by revealing individual topographic columnar-level orientation maps in human primary visual cortex, frequency maps in primary auditory cortex and axis-of-motion maps in area hMT/V5. In a multi-sensory (visual-auditory) paradigm, we also revealed that increasing the spatial resolution at 7 Tesla leads to a better segregation of unimodal and heteromodal voxels in the superior temporal gyrus and planum temporale. More recently, also cognitive tasks have been investigated at the mesoscopic level. We, for example, relate the content of perception during perceptual switches of ambiguous motion stimuli (Plaids, motion quartet) to dynamic activation changes in direction-selective columns in area hMT/V5. Furthermore, the separation of activity from upper, middle and lower cortical layer compartments provides the possibility to separate bottom-¬up from top-¬down information flow. The functional separation of layers has been, for example, used to investigate top-down effects during auditory attention and visual scene completion producing results that are compatible with predictive coding theories. The emerging field of “human mesoscopic neuroscience” establishes also an important bridge to invasive animal research, especially to optical imaging and electrical neuronal population recordings.


Tamar Makin

University College London, United Kingdom



Session 2: Models and mechanisms in social cognition

Chair: Antonia Hamilton


Dana Samson

Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium


Atsushi Senju

University of London, United Kingdom


Tea Break


Giorgia Silani

University of Vienna, Austria:

When affect sharing and self-other distinction fail: understanding empathy from a developmental and clinical perspective

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, a major component of what has been termed “social intelligence,” is a crucial elements for successful social interactions and wellbeing. In the past decades, social neuroscience has started to shed light into the neural mechanisms underlying empathic brain responses in the normal and pathological populations, by defining the neuronal networks behind the cognitive and affective processes related to this complex social emotion.

In this talk I will give an overview of the state of the art on brain research on empathy, by focusing on two main questions:

1) What are the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying normal empathic responses?

2) How developmental and clinical factors affect our ability to empathize with other people? In the attempt to start a challenging and productive discussion on the aforementioned topics I plan to present both neuroimaging and behavioral studies that have addressed those questions.


Experimental Design Workshop:

Briefing & group formation


Buffet dinner


Session 3: Neuroscience of Action: learning, deciding and doing

Chair: Patrick Haggard


Parashkev Nachev

University College London, United Kingdom:

Silent failure in the study of voluntary action

Scientific inference depends on the conceptual as well as on the empirical. It may fail not only because the data does not fit the hypothesis but because the hypothesis itself is misconceived. Defects of the latter kind require special attention for two viciously interacting reasons: first, because there is no widely-established intellectual framework for detecting them, and second, because the resultant failure is often silent, cushioned by misleadingly confident p values thereby rendered irrelevant. So though the inferential failure need be no less catastrophic, it is much harder to prevent. Indeed, we may notice it only when our supposed insights fail to translate into real-world practice.

Drawing on examples from the study of the antecedents of voluntary action, here I show how to use conceptual analysis to test the integrity of hypotheses before any data is collected. In each case, I show how conceptual defects can void experimental models of real-world intelligibility and thereby of real-world translatability. I suggest a straightforward general methodology for applying such analyses to empirical studies in the field.


Patrick Haggard

University College London, United Kingdom


Coffee Break


Uri Maoz

University of Los Angeles, USA & California Institute of Technology, USA.

On the role of consciousness in arbitrary and deliberate action

Does consciousness play a causal role in decision - making? The onset of the readiness potential (RP) — a key neural correlate of upcoming action — was repeatedly found to precede subjects’ reports of having made an endogenous decision. This has been taken as evidence against a causal role for consciousness in human decision-making and thus as a denial of free-will. Yet those studies focused on purposeless, unreasoned, arbitrary decisions, bereft of consequences and were analyzed after the fact. It remained unclear to what degree these specific neural precursors of action generalized to deliberate decisions, which are more ecological and relevant to real life. In addition, it remained unknown whether these early, predictive signals reflected the determination of the decisions or just probabilistic information about it.

In my talk, I will discuss our efforts to predict decisions before they occur online and in real time and to investigate the nature of the early, predictive neural signals. But the focus of the talk will be on a direct comparison that we have undertaken between the neural correlates of deliberate and arbitrary decision -making during a $1000-donation task to non -profit organizations. While we found the expected RP before arbitrary decisions, it was strikingly absent before deliberate ones. Our results are congruent with the RP representing the accumulation of noisy, random fluctuations, which drive arbitrary —but not deliberate—decisions. The absence of RPs in deliberate decisions thus challenges the generalizability of studies that argue for no causal role for consciousness in decision making from arbitrary to deliberate, real-life decisions.


Lunch & Experimental design workshop: small group work


Lab tours / workshops


Tea Break


Poster Session 1


Poster Session 2


Session 4: Language and communication

Chair: Mairead MacSweeney


Sam Evans

University of Westminster, United Kingdom

Understanding language comprehension: multivariate and univariate perspectives

Neuroimaging studies show that auditory information is processed within multiple streams of processing in the human brain. These streams include a hierarchically organised ventral pathway that extracts meaning from auditory signals and a dorsal stream that integrates perception and production. To date, our understanding of the function of these processing streams has predominantly come from mass univariate general linear modelling. This approach has achieved a great deal in mapping the basic architecture of the speech perception system. However, recent advances in neuroimaging analyses that use patterns of activity rather than single voxel responses, allow an arguably richer description of neural activity that provide additional insights into brain function. In this talk, results from fMRI studies of comprehension will be presented showing how analyses exploiting neural patterns can be used to confirm and extend understanding of the neural systems supporting perception.


Beth Jefferies

University of York, United Kingdom:

The neural basis of semantic cognition: Convergent evidence from neuropsychology, fMRI and TMS

Over the last few years, neuropsychological, functional neuroimaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies have supported the view that a complex, distributed neural network underpins semantic cognition. This talk traces the putative roles of each region within this network. Comparisons of patients who have semantic dementia (SD) and multimodal semantic impairment following stroke aphasia (SA) indicate that semantic cognition draws on at least two interacting components – semantic representations (degraded in SD) and semantic control processes (deficient in SA). To explore the first of these components, we have employed distortion-corrected fMRI and TMS in healthy volunteers: these studies convergently indicate that the anterior temporal lobes (ATL; atrophied in SD) combine information from different modalities within an amodal semantic “hub”. Modality-specific sensory and motor cortices also make a critical contribution to knowledge within particular categories. This network of brain regions interacts with semantic control processes reliant on left inferior frontal (LIFC) and posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG). SA patients with damage to these regions have difficulty focusing on aspects of knowledge that are relevant to the current goal or context, in both verbal and non-verbal semantic tasks (such as object use). Convergent evidence is again provided by fMRI and TMS: both these methods show that LIFC and pMTG act together as a distributed network that lies between domain-general executive regions and the default mode network which, when unconstrained by other networks, supports more automatic aspects of semantic retrieval.


Coffee Break


Manuel Carreiras

BCBL. Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain & IKERBASQUE. Basque Foundation for Science. Bilbao, Spain & University of the Basque Country. UPV/EHU. Bilbao, Spain:

The bilingual brain: Plasticity and processing from cradle to grave

Most people either learn more than one language from birth or invest quite a lot of time and effort learning a second language. Bilingualism and second language learning is an interesting case for investigating cognitive and brain plasticity.

In this talk (1) I will challenge the “bilingual advantage” and (2) will describe behavioral and neuroimaging evidence on the cognitive and brain mechanisms that adults and infants (monlinguals, bilinguals and second language learners) use for processing languages. In particular I will address whether proficient second language learners use similar or different brain mechanisms during processing and what are the neural consequences (structural and functional) of dealing with two languages.


Cathy Price

University College London, United Kingdom

Using neuropsychology and neuroimaging to develop cognitive models of reading

This talk will provide a historical and future perspective on how neuropsychology and neuroimaging can be used to develop cognitive models of reading.

In Part 1, I will focus on the emergence of cognitive modelling from neuropsychology, why lesion location was considered to be unimportant and the challenges faced when mapping symptoms to impaired cognitive processes. In Part 2 I will describe how established cognitive models based on behavioural data alone cannot explain the complex patterns of distributed brain activity that are observed in functional neuroimaging studies. This has led to proposals for new cognitive functions, new cognitive strategies and new functional ontologies for cognition. In Part 3, I consider how the integration of data from lesion, behavioural and functional neuroimaging studies of large cohorts of brain damaged patients can be used to determine whether inter-patient variability in behaviour is due to differences in functional anatomy, lesion site or cognitive strategy. This combination of neuroimaging and neuropsychology is providing a deeper understanding of how cognitive functions can be lost and re-learnt after brain damage – an understanding that will transform our ability to generate and validate cognitive models that are both physiologically plausible and clinically useful.



Session 5: Neuroethics / Horizontal Programme

Chair: Patrick Haggard

14:15 - 15:15

Geraint Rees & Essi Viding

University College London, United Kingdom:

"Predicting behavior: Big data, biomarkers, ethics and society"

15:15 - 16:15

"What I wish I had known about career building"

16:15 - 17:00

Project talks / prizes


Final Remarks

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