Cutting Edge Neuroscience Research to Be Discussed during Online Conference at HSE University
The first International Conference on Social Neurology in Environmentally Sound Conditions, organized by the International Laboratory of Social Neurobiology of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Aalto University will be held online on June 21-23, 2021. The HSE News Service spoke with conference organisers and some of the key speakers in the run-up to the conference about its agenda and some research highlights.
Rapid methodological advances are increasingly making it possible to conduct social neuroscience studies in ecologically valid conditions. These novel approaches span from neuroimaging studies with naturalistic stimuli such as movies to the use of wearable sensors in real life social interactions. Topics in this new area of research span from investigation of the neural basis of social cognition, unravelling the effects of cultural influences, to investigation of the biological basis of intergroup biases.
Leading Russian and foreign scientists will take part in the conference: Gal Raz, Iiro Jaaskelainen, Enrico Glerean, Ale Smidts, Emily Falk, Jonathan Levy, Yaara Yeshurun, Shinobu Kitayama, Igor Grossman, Svetlana Kirdina-Chandler, Vasily Klyucharev, Anna Shestakova, Yury Alexandrov and others.
The First Milestone
Anna Shestakova, Director of the Centre for Cognition & Decision Making, anticipates a warm atmosphere, vibrant talks and fruitful discussions with outstanding researchers in the frontiers of social neuroscience and decision making.
This is the first significant event of the Laboratory for Social Neurobiology co-headed by Professors Iiro Jaaskelainen from Aalto University and Vasily Klucharev from HSE University.
In 2019, Professor Iiro Jaaskelainen was awarded with most prestigious Russian research grant (so-called ‘megagrant’) and introduced a new line of the brain research using naturalistic stimuli such as movies in ecologically valid conditions.
Anna Shestakova, Director of the Centre for Cognition & Decision Making
Together with the colleagues from Aalto University we have gained expertise in multimodal dynamic neuroimaging using intersubject-correlation analysis which allows to address a broad range of topics in social neuroscience, including social influence, cross-cultrural differences and many others.
International Scope: Presentation Highlights
Yaara Yeshurun, from the School of Psychological Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel-Aviv University, does research on social neuroscience “in the wild”. She is interested in studying the neural mechanisms underlying individual differences in the way individuals interpret external situations and the role of brain-to-brain synchronization in real-life interactions.
Yaara Yeshurun is going to present her ongoing work on political-views dependent differences in neural synchronization, while processing naturalistic stimuli.
In my lab we are measuring behavioral, physiological and neural synchronization while individuals interact with each other. One of our main goals is to understand the role of synchronization in social interactions. We have a couple of projects demonstrating the relationship between behavioral synchronization and interaction quality.
Hang-Yee Chan, from University of Pennsylvania, USA; University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, will speak about the neural signature of advertisement liking and present some insights into the psychological processes of consumer valuation and their temporal dynamics.
How and when does consumer valuation take place during immersive experiences, such as watching video ads? Real-time measurement of brain responses could shed light on both the psychological processes involved and the temporal dynamics as the experience unfolds.
In our study we found that liking-related brain signals emerged as early as 3-5 seconds from video onset. Based on neuroscientific evidence, this study underlines the importance of having engaging narratives in the first few lead-in seconds of video advertisements.
Shinobu Kitayama, University of Michigan, USA, is interested in the triadic function of social norms and the implications for culture, social relations, and wellbeing.
The study of social norms has been the mainstay of social psychology from the inception of the discipline, focusing primarily on social influence. However, social norms have multiple vital functions. Shinobu Kitayama proposes a triadic function of social norms.
Specifically, through the past 50,000-year history of cultural evolution, social norms evolved to coordinate people's behaviors within increasingly large ingroups and cope with various natural and human-made threats (e.g., famine, pandemic, wars). Further, this group coordination function of social norms is held in place since the norms function to regulate social relations while offering psychological security to the group members.
I will discuss a series of behavioral and neuroscience investigations that have addressed each of the three functions. I will conclude that, in combination, these three functions undergird the pivotal roles of social norms in cultural evolution, social institutions, and individual wellbeing.
The presentation of Igor Grossmann, (University of Waterloo, Canada) is entitled ‘Sound judgment: Folk beliefs and empirical evidence’.
In my talk, I will bring up a pervasive belief across cultures that better judgment depends on consulting one’s thoughts and feelings rather than asking close others or wisdom of the crowds.
From indigenous groups in Peru to post-industrial Global North, people prefer individualized deliberation strategies and rate them as wiser than transactive deliberation strategies involving others.
However, according to the empirical insights from experimental philosophy, social psychology, and forecasting research, less individualized and more transactive strategies provide greater foresight and wisdom in managing life’s challenges. It appears that judgmental preferences contradict the collective empirical wisdom about strategies that in fact promote sound judgment.
Luke J. Chang
Luke J. Chang, Dartmouth College, USA, will talk about computational social and affective neuroscience.
Emotions reflect coordinated, multi-system responses to events and situations relevant to survival and well-being. These responses emerge from appraisals of personal meaning that reference one’s goals, memories, internal body states, and beliefs about the world.
Dysregulation of emotions is central to many brain and body-related disorders, making it of paramount importance to understand the neurobiological mechanisms that govern emotional experiences. Unfortunately, the field of emotion has struggled to reliably elicit and measure affective experiences, which has limited theoretical developments.
One of the main focuses of our laboratory is to use a computational cognitive neuroscience framework to develop models of affective experiences. In my talk at the conference, I will present examples of how we can combine naturalistic elicitation of feelings with pattern-based neuroimaging analyses to develop brain-based models of affect.
These models appear to generalize across individuals and can aid in revealing the temporal dynamics of individual affective experiences. We hope that this interdisciplinary work will aid in facilitating a more cumulative and extensible science of emotion.
Enrico Glerean, Research Fellow at the HSE University’s International Laboratory of Social Neurobiology, will discuss "naturalistic imaging" i.e. the use of naturalistic stimuli (such as films, narratives, music, etc) in human brain imaging and tell about my journey with naturalistic stimuli and fMRI which culminated last year in an special issue for the peer reviewed journal NeuroImage.
After 10 years of using naturalistic stimuli in neuroscience, I think the field is quite mature and ready for using these types of complex paradigms. But still many challenges need to be addressed: novel and even basic work is still needed for increasing validity and generalisability of the results that we have found. Naturalistic datasets come with the challenge of being quite large, so I will propose that only with a more global large-scale effort we can move the field forward.
In general neuroscience with naturalistic paradigms tries to answer questions related to basic neuroscience research, however the insights it provides can be related to current topics such as ingroup/outgroup, politics, and other social issues which are important for science as well as society.
I will present the work we have done for curating the special issue for the NeuroImage journal and future ideas and challenges that need to be solved in the next few years. I am still involved in many neuroscience studies, but what I am really trying to solve is the opening of brain imaging data for fostering replication of neuroscience results as well as sustainability of research with re-use of the same data for novel research questions.
Researchers from the HSE Centre for Cognition & Decision Making have developed a computational model of working memory and demonstrated the stabilizing effect of gamma oscillations, as well as the importance of fast interaction between the model components. The study results have the potential to become part of a theoretical basis for experiments on improving working memory functions with non-invasive brain stimulation. The study was published in Frontiers in Neural Circuits .
The Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience (ICN) at HSE University has recently added state-of-the-art laboratory equipment to its range of tools for studying brain function. The News Service visited the Institute to learn more about the uses of infrared lasers, optical tomography and a unique robotic arm, as well as why research into vascular tone is important, which parts of the brain can be stimulated to make people more generous, and how the Institute’s research can help treat diseases.
Researchers from HSE University and Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have discovered how the theta rhythm of the brain and the gender differences in attitudes to risk are linked. In an article published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, the researchers addressed which processes can be explained by knowing this connection.
HSE University maintains active cooperation with the Academy of Science institutes, which open joint departments at the university and provide their best experts for teaching and research. HSE News Service talked to Deputy Directors of the RAS Steklov Mathematical Institute (MIRAS) — RAS member Lev Beklemishev andSergey Gorchinskiy — about the development of mathematics in the modern world, career opportunities for graduates in mathematics, and the specifics of researchers’ work with students.
Researchers of HSE Tikhonov Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM), in cooperation with their colleagues from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), and The European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), have developed software to model the spread of the COVID-19 global pandemic. This is the world’s fastest Viral Genealogy Simulator (VGsim). For more details about this scalable simulator, read the reprint on medRxiv. The code is freely available at GitHub.
As a part of long-standing cooperation between HSE University and the Pompeu Fabra University, this summer, International Summer University in collaboration with Barcelona International Summer School (BISS) will organize a series of open lectures for participants of both summer programmes. Some of HSE Summer University courses are still open for registration.
Several representatives of HSE University took part in the seventh Times Higher Education Young Universities Summit, organized jointly with HSE University on June 22-23 and held entirely online. The Summit focused on the global outlook for higher education and opportunities for new growth for young universities.
Psycholinguists from the HSE Center for Language and Brain, in collaboration with researchers from the City University of New York and the University of Stuttgart, investigated how reading in Russian varies among different groups of readers. The authors used a novel method in bilingualism research — comparison of the eye-movement sequences (scanpaths) in adult native speakers of Russian, Russian-speaking children, and adult bilinguals with different levels of Russian proficiency. The results of the study were published in Reading Research Quarterly.
Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer of Times Higher Education, and Yaroslav Kuzminov, HSE University Rector, delivered opening remarks.
Times Higher Education Young Universities Summit to Take Place in Partnership with a Russian University for the First Time
From June 22-23, the virtual Times Higher Education Young Universities Summit, jointly organized with HSE University, will take place. This marks the first time that the summit will be conducted with support from a Russian university. The choice of HSE is no coincidence: it is the only Russian university in the Top 50 of THE Young University Ranking.