12 December 2018 – Colin Davis University of Bristol Cracking the code with the help of subliminal priming and big data
A key outstanding problem in the field of visual word recognition is the quest to crack the orthographic code underlying reading. This theoretical focus has led to the emergence of multiple competing models of the orthographic code.
A powerful tool for testing these models is a type of subliminal priming called masked form priming. In this talk I’ll offer a new account of how this type of priming works. I’ll then discuss data from large-scale priming experiments conducted across many universities (including Plymouth!).
Testing thousands of participants allows us to achieve a high level of precision, and thereby to adjudicate between models better than ever before. These data motivate a new model of orthographic coding that can explain 99% of the variance in a large set of priming estimates. This model may have interesting implications for the relationship between reading and memory for serial order.
5 December 2018 – Sue Denham
University of Plymouth Auditory scene analysis: support and challenges for predictive coding
Perception seems so simple. I look out of the window to see houses, trees, people walking past, the sky above, the grass below. I hear birds in the trees, cars going past, the distant sound of an alarm. The world is full of objects that make their presence known to me through my senses – what could be more simple? Yet the efficacy of perceptual experience hides a host of questions for which we do not yet have the answers.
Information reaching our senses is generally incomplete, ambiguous, distributed in space and time and not neatly sorted according to its source, so a key function of our perceptual systems is to discover the likely causes of our sensations. Perception as inference or hypothesis testing, formalised in the predictive coding theory, offers an attractive framework for exploring these issues. From this perspective, regularities or patterns provide perceptual systems with some traction, allowing the formation of expectations and a basis for decomposing the world into discrete objects.
But in the dynamic world which we inhabit, object representations must be similarly dynamic and need to form and dissolve, dominate and yield, in a way that facilitates veridical perception. In this talk, I will discuss auditory scene analysis in the context of predictive coding using experimental data, exemplar models, and the phenomenon of perceptual multistability.
21 November 2018 – Judy Reed Edworthy University of Plymouth Shut the beep up! A new safety standard for medical devices
We’ve known for a very long time that typical clinical device audible alarms, as embodied in a global medical device standard IEC 60601-1-8, are poor along many dimensions and are largely unfit for use.
However, changing the content of an international standard is a very slow process with many costly and time-consuming phases and pitfalls along the way. Thus those unfit alarms have remained in the standard long after they were known to be poor. It took the lucky coincidence of the prospect of a revision of the standard due late 2019, a REF deadline of 2020 and some lucrative consultancy contracts to fuel the process of updating the standard.
The update includes conducting the underpinning research, development, and committee work (largely in the US) which I have been carrying out since 2015. In this talk, I describe some of these studies and will talk about the progress of this new standard, and its potential to improve clinical safety.
14 November 2018 – Lennart Verhagen
University of Oxford On the future of neurostimulation and neuroimaging
Neuroimaging and neurostimulation tools have reshaped the landscape of psychology research. Despite, or perhaps because of, their tremendous popularity the development of core fMRI, EEG, MEG, TMS, and tCS functionality has all but halted.
Instead, the advances of tomorrow seem to be made on a myriad of far-out fronts. In this talk I would like to present a small and humble selection of recent advances in these fields: 1) multi-band multi-echo fMRI acquisition, 2) unified cross-species MRI analysis, and 3) a novel tool to achieve non-invasive deep brain neuromodulation with high precision: transcranial focused ultrasound.
Following the main talk, I would like to invite a discussion on the future of neurostimulation and neuroimaging, focussing both on technological advances and on opportunities created by changing culture, including open-science and machine-learning approaches.
7 November 2018 – Tom Beesley
University of Lancaster Attentional mechanisms of human associative learning
Attentional processing is at the heart of human learning, since there exists a very clear reciprocal relationship: as we start to learn about the world, our attention is biased in interesting ways, and these attentional biases affect how we learn in the future. In this talk I will describe recent work exploring the role of uncertainty in guiding attention and learning.
These data suggest an important distinction should be made between "expected" and "unexpected" uncertainty. When we expect a certain level of uncertainty, we appear to be less vigilant to changes in our environment, and hence learning occurs more slowly. In contrast, the sudden onset of uncertainty appears to engage both attention and learning. I will discuss how these effects might be handled by classic models of associative learning
31 October 2018 – Ellie Lloyd
University of Plymouth Terms of engagement as a pre-context for person-centred care: theory building from qualitative data
This seminar will explore the role of social interaction in notions of person-centredness, drawing on the primary analysis of data from an evaluation of the Integrated Personal Commissioning programme in the South West of England. We will also explore the process of generating Realist (Baskar, 2008) and other programme theories from qualitative data.
The IPC programme is part of a movement in the NHS towards promotion of person-centred care. It aims to break with paternalistic, biomedical tradition by engaging in a guided narrative and collaborative planning process with people with long term conditions to consider ‘what matters to you rather than what is the matter with you’ and to identify what they want to achieve in social and psychological, as well as physical, wellbeing. A health budget may be allocated to achieve their goals.
In this study, participants did not always find it easy to express their aspirations and identify how the programme could best support them, finding ‘empowerment’ unfamiliar in this context. They engaged in discourses of candidacy and ethics and since they were familiar with a national narrative of scarcity, suspected ulterior motives of the service.
One of the unanticipated outcomes of the process was the formation of social networks among the participants, who were identified by a health selection process as people who ‘fall through the gaps’ of care, such that the participant group itself became an unintended resource of the programme.
The findings balance a model of ‘person’ centredness that focuses on the uniqueness of the individual, with a relational perspective that considers the person within a social context, which also includes the health professional. (Naldemirci, 2016).
24 October 2018 – Elsa Fouragnan
University of Plymouth Testing the causal role of cortical networks underlying decision-making
The neural basis of decision-making has recently become one of the central topics in systems and cognitive neuroscience. In this talk, I will discuss our recent progress in understanding the neural correlates of value-based decision making in humans and non-human primates.
I will illustrate that a multimodal approach which brings together computational modelling, neuroimaging and neurostimulation can be used to identify distributed networks associated with decision making while at the same time provide causal and mechanistic evidence for the functional contribution of the brain regions comprising these networks.
17 October 2018 – Charles Abraham
University of Melbourne Behaviour Change Interventions: Design and Evaluation, Deconstruction and Implementation
The talk will assess how behaviour change intervention is impacting on health, health care and health policy. It will consider how we might develop behaviour change research so as to optimise applied impact. Co-creation of interventions will be highlighted in order to ensure acceptability, sustainability and effectiveness in practice.
The talk will illustrate how better use can be made of available scientific evidence in relation to information provision, persuasive communication and behavioural regulation, drawing on the Information Motivation Behavioural Skills Model.
It will be argued that an experimental approach to identifying modifiable regulatory process and selecting change techniques is foundational to effective behaviour change design. This will be considered in light of the reflective impulsive model of behavioural regulation.
The importance of process evaluation of interventions will be emphasised and the use of meta-analyses to retrospectively identify modifiable processes and intervention features associated with effectiveness will be discussed. Finally NUDGEs will be briefly discussed.
10 October 2018 – Dr Nicole Robinson
Queensland University of Technology Humanoid robotics in healthcare in Australia
Nicole Robinson is a Research Fellow for the Australian Centre of Robotic Vision on the Humanoid Robotics project: An R&D project supported by the Queensland Government.
Nicole will discuss the current state of humanoid healthcare robotics in health clinics and hospital services in Australia, including recent developments in humanoid social robotics that can be applied to new healthcare treatments and interventions.
03 October 2018 – Dr. Maggie Brennan University of Plymouth - “We can’t arrest our way out of this”. Challenges, Requirements and “what works” in the management and prevention of online child sexual offending behaviour.
Research on online sex offending has documented dramatic rises in the scale and impact of Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM), and related sexual offences.
The combined challenges of offence volume and complexity has made prosecution and case management increasingly difficult. Moreover, a lack of emphasis on the integration of empirically-based good practice in the management and prevention of online sex offending has created major practical challenges for the police, courts, probation, mental health and other services responsible for risk management and treatment provision decisions.
In 2014, the International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders supported the establishment of the International Working Group on Best Practice in the Management of Online Sexual Offending (IWG_OSO). Led by Dr Maggie Brennan (University of Plymouth), Prof. Derek Perkins (West London Mental Health Trust and Royal Holloway, London) and Dr Hannah Merdian (University of Lincoln), the group engaged in a in a wide-ranging review of international research, practice and policy on the management and prevention of online child sexual offending.
Focus was given to current challenges in online sex offending, associated professional needs, and good management and prevention practice. The IWG_OSO has now completed the first phase of its work, which includes the above-described review and the results of an international Delphi consultation exercise.
This involved offender management, mental health and therapy services, policymakers, law enforcement and researchers, from an initial cohort of over two thousand participants. In this session, we will review the major findings and recommendations of the first report of the IWG_OSO, with attention to specific challenges, requirements and good practice across offender management and prevention spheres.
Using relevant case examples, we will discuss current challenges and possible management and prevention solutions advised by the IWG_OSO stakeholders in relation to risk assessment and treatment interventions, policing, prevention methods and research – as well as reviewing persistent barriers to change.
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.