Summer School 2017






Opening Remarks

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

Chair: Tamar Makin

09:30 10:15

Heidi Johansen-Berg

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

High Field MRI for the study of adaptive brain plasticity


Rainer Goebel

University of Maastricht, The Netherlands

Imaging cortical columns and cortical layers at 7 and 9.4 Tesla: From sensory mapping to cognitive applications


Coffee Break


Emrah Duzel

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

Functional-anatomical parcellation and plasticity of medial temporal lobe memory circuits at 7T


Tamar Makin

University College London, United Kingdom

The neural fingerprints of a missing hand



Session 2: Models and mechanisms in social cognition

Chair: Antonia Hamilton


Giorgia Silani

University of Vienna, Austria

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


Atsushi Senju

Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom

Spontaneous social attention as an adaptive process


Tea Break


Dana Samson

Psychological Sciences Research Institute (IPSY), Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS), University of Louvain, Belgium

Investigating visual perspective taking with EEG frequency tagging


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

What happens in the brain before a voluntary action

All known societies have some concept of individual responsibility for action, and the capacity for voluntary action is considered a key feature of adult human mental life. Nevertheless, scientific studies of volition are controversial, and suffer from several methodological difficulties. I will attempt to define voluntary action from a neurocognitive perspective, and discuss what happens in the brain prior to voluntary actions. I will report recent EEG studies that identify a consistent process of neural noise reduction in frontal areas prior to reasons-responsive, endogenous, voluntary actions. In the second part of my talk I will turn to the sense of agency: volition is arguably important only to the extent that it gives humans the capacity to transform their environment through their own actions: to make things happen. This capacity has a subjective aspect, called “sense of agency”, which I define as the feeling that one controls one’s own actions, and, through them, events in the external world. One school of psychological thought views sense of agency as the result of a predictive neural computation that compares predictions about the consequences of action with what actually happens. Another school views sense of agency as a narrative, or even an illusion, that the mind composes retrospectively to explain what we find we have done. I will describe how an “implicit” measure of agency, based on the perceived temporal association between an action and its outcome, reveals both predictive and retrospective agency processing in the human brain. Next I will show how sense of agency reflects our ability to learn by experience to achieve our desired goals.


Coffee Break


Uri Maoz

Chapman University, USA, 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: Horizontal Programme

Chair: Patrick Haggard

14:15 - 15:15

New Issues in Neuroethics

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"

Catherine Perrodin & Sarah White

University College London, UK

16:15 - 17:00

Project talks / prizes


Final Remarks

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