A New Research Adventure Begins
On December 4-6, a cross-disciplinary workshop called ‘Cognitive Control, Communication and Perception: Psychological and Neurobiological Aspects’ will be held at Higher School of Economics in Moscow. The workshop is planned as an inaugural event for the recently launched Centre for Cognition & Decision Making at the HSE Faculty of Psychology. The centre incorporates a number of individual research groups, leaded by Vasily Klucharev, Yury Shtyrov, Vadim Nikulin, Boris Gutkin, and Alexei Ossadtchi, whose studies cover a broad range of topics, including attention and decision-making, emotions, communication, action and perception (e.g., language comprehension and production), neurodynamics, neuroimaging and computational modelling of neurocognitive processes.
The centre is committed to establishing and maintaining a strong international research programme. Dr Pascal Belin, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at Aix-Marseille University, Director of the European Center for Research in Medical Imaging, one of the key participants at the event, kindly agreed to speak with the HSE news service and shed some light on his research.
— The meeting in Moscow is an inaugural event for the newly organized Centre for Cognition & Decision Making at the HSE Faculty of Psychology. How do you see your participation in this kind of international research body?
— I’m looking forward to participating in this inaugural event, and I’m really happy to be there and begin a new adventure. I hope that during the three-day inauguration, I will meet some colleagues who share some specific interests with me, and then we will perhaps be able to collaborate. I would like to develop my own research interests and hopefully ensure that the Russian public and researchers know more about my work. In another direction, I would also be delighted to know more about the specific research done at this centre, and about how possible long-term collaboration might be envisaged. That would be rather interesting.
— Could you please tell us a little about your report 'A Vocal Brain: Cerebral Processing of Voice Information'? What are the highlights and main findings of your research?
— As for the highlights, I will present on the way our brain analyzes the sounds of the human voice. Not just speech but also all paralinguistic cues. There is varied research on it. For example, there is an interesting finding, a discovery that every single person, you, me – all of us – have areas of the brain dedicated to the voice. The human voice is an important signal; it plays such an important role in our social interactions that we have brain modules dedicated to specifically analyzing the voice.
— What makes our voice so important?
— It is really important because it contains lots of different sources of information, of course speech but also information on the body of a person, information on the emotional state, information on a person’s identity. During the millions of years of evolution, we elaborated on the abilities that we share with other animals. Speech is special, speech is unique for humans, but recognizing individuals by the voice, recognizing the emotions – these are the things that we share with many other animals that have a long evolutionary history. We are really good at that. And these abilities play a really important role. For example, when you hear somebody speaking, you might detect irony; that’s when what is being said is not exactly the same as the way you say it.
Russian companies still pursue authoritarian leadership styles, and employees often avoid articulating their concerns and complaints to management. Together with chronic stress and work-family imbalance, this can often result in emotional burnout. This is the conclusion of a study by researchers from North Dakota State University (USA) and HSE University.
In 2017, 30% of Russian families with children under three and almost 20% of families with children under 18 were living below the poverty line. Incidentally, financial hardships experienced during childhood do not leave one unaffected. A study by an HSE psychologist shows that poverty experienced in childhood reduces self-esteem and self-assurance even in adults who later achieve financial success.
Psychology researchers from HSE University have trialed the reliability of a student engagement scale on 537 Russian primary school students. The findings indicated that the emotional component contributes the most to school engagement. The paper has been published in PLOS ONE journal.
Cyberbullying is a fact of life for many teens today. Psychologists have found that with age, people become inured to acts of aggression. However, cyber harassment is one of the most dangerous forms of bullying. Cyberbullying victims have nowhere to hide, while their parents often have no idea that something bad is happening to their kids, since the bullying occurs in adolescent online communities. Researchers studied cyberbullying among teenagers.
HSE psychologists have studied how the presence or absence of siblings, as well as birth order, affect children’s ability to maintainpersonal boundaries. The results showed that only children and second-born children have the strongest sense of personal boundaries, while first-born children have the least. However, as children become adults, their ability to balance between their own needs and those of others becomes determined more by gender.
On September 23-24, the CCCP19 Symposium ‘Cognition, Computation, Neuroeconomics and Performance’ will be held at HSE University. The goal of the symposium is to exhibit cutting edge research at the CCDM, a leading cognitive neuroscience research centre in Russia, and LNC2, a leading European research centre in neuroeconomics, cognitive neuroscience and neural theory. Ahead of CCCP19, the HSE News Service spoke with the conference organizer and several invited speakers about the plan for this symposium and the importance of their research in the field.
September 4, 2019 was a day of firsts for the School of Psychology and the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making. Zachary Yaple, who was born in the United States and grew up in England, defended his dissertation, 'Neurophysiological Correlates of Risky Decision-Making'. His defense marked the first PhD to be prepared at the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making and the first PhD to be awarded to an international student by the Doctoral School of Psychology.
When reading words on a screen, the human brain comprehends words placed on the right side of the screen faster. The total amount of presented information on the screen also affects the speed and accuracy of the brain’s ability to process words. These are the findings of HSE researchers Elena Gorbunova and Maria Falikman presented in an article that was published in the journal, Advances in Cognitive Psychology.
Educators do not always deal with student aggression in the most effective manner. Sometimes teachers resort to severe and unsystematic methods that only make the bullying worse. According to researchers of the HSE Laboratory for Prevention of Asocial Behavior, the problem requires a comprehensive approach: aggression prevention programmes need to be incorporated into educational policy, and, in turn, schools need to foster supportive psychological climate and trust between teachers and students.
More than 64% of employed Russians work evenings, nights or weekends, and this is one of the highest figures among European countries. Andrei Shevchuk and Anna Krasilnikova were the first to study the extent of nonstandard working hours in Russia and its impact on work-life balance.