Thomas Metzinger: Body Representation and Self-Consciousness: From Embodiment to Minimal Phenomenal Selfhood
As a philosopher, I am interested in the relationship between body representation and the deep structure of self-consciousness. My epistemic goal in this lecture will be the simplest form of phenomenal self-consciousness: What exactly are the essential non-conceptual, pre-reflexive layers in conscious self-representation?What constitutes a minimal phenomenal self? Conceptually, I will defend the claim that agency is not part of the metaphysically necessary supervenience-basis for bodily self-consciousness. Empirically, I will draw on recent research focusing on out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and full-body illusions (FBIs). I will then proceed to sketch a new research program and advertise a new research target: "Minimal Phenomenal Selfhood", ending with an informal argument for the thesis that agency or “global control”, phenomenologically as well as functionally, is not a necessary condition for self-consciousness.
Metzinger, T. (2003). Being No One. The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Metzinger, T. (2009). The Ego Tunnel. The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self. New York: Basic Books.
Metzinger, T. (2010 e). De egotunnel / Hersenonderzoek en de mythe van het zelf. Amsterdam/Antwerpen: Uitgeverij De Arbeiderspers. Dutch eBook: http://www.arbeiderspers.nl/web/Auteurs/Boek/9789029587198_De-egotunnel.htm
Metzinger, T. (2007j; zusammen mit B. Lenggenhager, T. Tadi und O. Blanke). Video Ergo Sum: Manipulating bodily self-consciousness.Science, 317, 1096-1099.
Metzinger, T. (2009f; zusammen mit O. Blanke). Full-body illusions and minimal phenomenal selfhood. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(1): 7-13.
Markus Schlosser: The Neuroscientific study of free will: A diagnosis of the controversy
Benjamin Libet's work on the conscious initiation of voluntary movements paved the way for the neuroscientific study of free will. The reception of this empirical research has been mixed. Other scientists have expressed high praise and they have restricted any criticism to the details of the experimental setup. In philosophy, the reception has been more negative, often even dismissive. Many philosophers think that the findings of the neuroscientific studies are simply irrelevant to the problem of free will. In this paper, I will propose a diagnosis of this striking discrepancy. I will suggest that the experiments seem irrelevant, from the perspective of philosophy, due to the way in which they operationalize free will. But I will also suggest that this problem could easily be remedied, as there are no obvious obstacles to an operationalization of free will that is in accord with the philosophical conception of free will.
Micheal Spivey: The Continuity of Mind
Rather than a sequence of logical operations performed on discrete symbols, real-time cognition is better described as continuously changing patterns of neuronal activity. The continuity in these dynamics indicates that, in between describable states of mind, much of our mental activity does not lend itself to the linguistic labels relied on by much of psychology. I will discuss eye-tracking and computer-mouse-tracking evidence for this temporal continuity in speech perception, sentence processing, categorization, and decision-making. I will also provide geometric visualizations of mental activity depicted as a continuous trajectory through a neuronal state space. In this theoretical framework, close visitations of labeled attractors may constitute word recognition events and object recognition events, but the majority of the mental trajectory traverses unlabeled regions of state space, resulting in multifarious mixtures of mental states.
Ben Maassen: Dutch Dyslexia Programme (DDP): Early neurophysiological and speech-language precursors of developmental dyslexia
Converging evidence suggests that developmental dyslexia is a neurobiological disorder, characterized by deficits in the auditory (phonological), visual, motor and linguistic domains. In t he longitudinal project of the DDP 180 children with a familial risk of dyslexia (FR), as well as a control group of 120 children were extensively studied from the age of 2 months to 9 years. Data collection focused on nine measurement sessions, with different paradigms for: (1) auditory and visual ERPs between 2 and 47 months; (2) assessment of environmental variables, mainly by means of parent questionnaires; (3) psychometric assessments of speech-language and cognitive development; and (4) assessments of preliteracy and reading development during kindergarten and grades 1 to 3.
Two types of data are presented: Early neurophysiological measures of auditory processing, and behavioral assessments of neurocognitive functions from age 4 years. Analyses showed specific differences between FR- and control-children in both the neurophysiological and neurocognitive measures, that can be interpreted as possible precursors or determinants of reading disability. Based on reading tests administered from age 7 to 9 years, the children were divided into 3 groups: FR-children with and without dyslexia (dyslexic FR and non-dyslexic FR, respectively), and fluently reading controls (Controls; leaving out the dyslexic children in the control group). Analyses of the differences between reading-groups with respect to precursors yielded distinct profiles. On several neurophysiological and neurocognitive measures scores of the non-dyslexic FR-group were in between the dyslexic FR-group and Controls. However, on a few measures the non-dyslexic FR-group performed equal to the Controls, suggesting a strong protective factor. Furthermore, there are indications of differences between the FR- and Control-group, irrespective of reading outcome. These results contribute to a deeper understanding of the core deficit(s) of dyslexia. The discussion focuses on the factors related to the genetic risk and the factors related to reading disability.
Anne Bertolotti: Misfolded proteins: Propagation and cure. Implication for neurodegenerative diseases
Deposition of proteins of aberrant conformation is the hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases. Misfolding of the normally globular mutant superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) is a central, early, but poorly understood event in the pathogenic cascade leading to familial forms of ALS. We found that mutant SOD1 aggregates self-propagate in a prion-like manner. I will discuss the implications of these observations for ALS.
While it is now well established that misfolded proteins cause diverse neurodegenerative diseases, why they accumulate remains unclear. All cells have powerful and sophisticated protein quality control systems that very efficiently handle potentially harmful proteins for decades but gradually fail with age. In principle, improving the cells’ ability to deal with misfolded proteins could represent a generic approach to reduce the pathology in these diverse neurodegenerative diseases. I will present two novel strategies to increase the cells’ ability to cope with quality control failure.
Peter Paul De Deyn: Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s diseaseIn 2011, new diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) were published in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia. The new criteria are important because they implement the tremendous progress we witnessed in the developement of biomarkes for Alzheimer’s Disease and related disorders and thereby shift the focus in clinical research to detecting the disease as early as possible, optimally prior to the onset of dementia. This would allow earlier potentially disease modifying therapeutic interventions.
Major scientific advances in neurogenetics, molecular biochemistry, structural, functional and molecular imaging resulted in the possibility to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in a preclinical and prodromal state. The application of biomarkers in the new diagnostic criteria from the National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer’s Association involves cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, structural (volumetric) neuroimaging (MRI) and functional (SPECT or PET) and molecular (AB-PET imaging) of the brain.
In four recent articles of the National Institute of ageing and the Alzheimer Association, authors describe new criteria for Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to the AD pathophysiological process (MCI due to AD), as well as the underlying rationale for them. The new criteria also include preclinical AD criteria but these are intended for research purposes. The new criteria further emphasise that the AD pathophysiological process starts years and perhaps decades before clinical symptoms, and that biomarkers can detect amyloid β deposition and the effects of neurodegeneration in the brain. The new diagnostic criteria may also have an impact on Alzheimer related ethical issues.
On the other hand, the developement in the field did not yet result in major progress with regard to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease for which disease modifying treatments are still lacking. An example is given with regard to the amyloid cascade hypothesis of Alzheimer disease indicating the need for novel innovative pathophysiological markers of dementia.
Craig Heller: A Circadian Inhibition of Neural Plasticity Accompanies Sleep Dependent Memory Consolidation
We have been investigating a hypothesis that the learning disability associated with the human genetic condition known as Down's syndrome is due to over-inhibition in the nervous system.That research was focused on a mouse model of Down's syndromeand resulted in a candidate has pharmacotherapy that is now in clinical trials.However, it did not answer the questions of the origin of the inhibition nor the mechanisms whereby it was impairing learning and memory.Both circadian rhythms and sleep play roles in learning and memory, so we investigated these systems in Down's syndrome mice and their responses to the pharmacotherapy.In this lecture I will discuss an interesting set of interactions between circadian rhythms and sleep that influence learning and memory in general and in Down's syndrome mice in particular.
Lambert Schomaker: Natural adaptation and artificial intelligence
In this presentation, I will first briefly give an overview of the history of artificial intelligence as the backdrop for four points to be made. First, the importance of embodied cognition is noted. Notions of intelligence and cognition become meaningless if the role of the physical agent in a physical environment is ignored. A second point to be made concerns the role of feedback.
A revival of cybernetic approaches is currently emerging, thanks to the tremendous increase in computational power. The third aspect of interest is that of adaptivity: Current models are essentially static and man made.
Within a neo-cybernetical framework, new possibilities emerge for truly autonomous artificial cognition. Finally, a point will be made for computational neuroscience, bridging the gap between macro-level descriptive approaches and detailed quantitive modeling of neural processes. In order to make the presentation attractive to a non-technical audience, I will use visual examples.
Raja Parasuraman: Supercharging Cognition: Neuroimaging, Genetic, and Brain Stimulation Studies
People vary considerably in their cognitive abilities, with some being good, others poor, and most somewhere in between. However, a few individuals exhibit very high levels of performance on perceptual and cognitive tasks—they are “cognitive superstars.” I report on such exceptional performance in individuals with extraordinary performance on tests of vigilance, selective attention, working memory, and recognition memory. Neuroimaging (fMRI, ERP) and molecular genetic data are also presented, in an exploration of the neural and hereditary basis of exceptional cognition. Cognitive performance can also be enhanced through extensive practice, but such training can be very time consuming. Recently, non-invasive brain stimulation methods have been developed to accelerate learning. I discuss the relative merits and disadvantages of such methods for enhancing perceptual expertise. Extraordinary cognitive ability reflects a complex mix of factors including genetics, experience, and training. While it is difficult to generalize from individual case studies, and such cases are by definition, very rare, implications can be drawn for training methods aimed at enhancing the normal range of cognition.
Wiebo Brouwer: Attention and the brain: 25 years of research and education in the Faculty of
Behavioural and Social Sciences
Attention involves tonic and phasic multidimensional brain states that anticipate on what might occur. With this description in mind one can go into a cognitive direction, infering domain specific cognitive resources and including learned mental representations in the control of attention in specific situations like driving a car or working in a control room.
One can also move into a more physiological direction, focusing on general states - arousal, alertness, inhibition, effort - supportive of certain classes of behaviour. From the beginning of the behavioural and social sciences' involvement in BCN,researchers have been strongly involved in both approaches while alsoclinical neuropsychological research in the domains of ADHD, head trauma, neuropsychiatric and aging-related disorders has been important,with an increasing interest for social and emotional aspects of attention.For some representative research lines, developmentsover the years and future perspectives will be sketched also taking the opportunity to discuss advantages and challenges of working in themultidisciplinary BCN environment.
|Last modified:||October 31, 2012 12:02|