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Regular version of the site

Keynote Lecturers and Invited Speakers

Keynote Lecturers

Emily Falk

Neural and psychological drivers of information sharing
University of Pennsylvania, USA

In this talk I will provide an overview of the value-based virality model, which highlights self- and social-relevance of messages as sources of value that lead to message sharing. I will present evidence from neuroimaging investigations of the neural correlates of people's motivations to share information, and how neural responses in small groups of people relate to large-scale sharing of news information. Finally, I will share results from a series of behavioral studies providing convergent correlational and causal evidence linking self- and social-relevance to people's motivations to share.

Enrico Glerean

Naturalistic Imaging: challenges and future directions
Aalto University, Finland; HSE University, Russia

The use of naturalistic imaging to study brain function has become more common. Films, written or spoken narratives, music and other complex, naturalistic stimuli are providing valuable insights about how the brain functions under more ecologically valid conditions. However new challenges, novel analytic approaches, and innovative methodological solutions have emerged. Here we will cover the variety of approaches and methods used in the "NeuroImage special issue on Naturalistic Imaging" collection, and outline current challenges and possible future directions.

Shinobu Kitayama

Mutual Constitution of Culture and the Self: A Cultural Neuroscience Perspective
University of Michigan, USA

Social and behavioral scientists have long debated on the mutually constitutive relationship between culture and the self. However, it is not until recently that researchers recognized the brain as a critical mediating element anchoring this relationship. In this talk, I propose that active engagement in a cultural context results in long-term change in the cortical connectivity and organization, which, in turn, serves as a solid foundation of psychological systems of action production (or agency). After a brief review of the last three decades of cultural psychology literature, I will describe our current work on gene x culture interaction effects, emphasizing the latest neuroscience evidence. This work has begun to shed new light on the hypothesis that the human mind is biologically prepared and yet powerfully shaped and completed through social and cultural processes. I will conclude with a discussion of future directions in this research area.

Invited Speakers

Yuri Alexandrov

Adaptive significance of inter-and intra-cultural diversity of thinking styles in the processes of cognition
Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and HSE University, Russia

Analytic and holistic types of mentality are shown to largely determine the nature of cognitive processes. The study of systemic organization of behavior in analytical and holistic individuals is carried out in the context of describing possible mechanisms and significance of intra-and inter-cultural mental variations. Differences in the systemic organization of behavior in analytical and holistic individuals are associated with peculiarities of their interaction with the environment, including social environment. Evolutionary aspects of intra- and intercultural variations will be discussed. The principle of systemic complementarity, which describes mutual cooperation of different individuals to achieve collective results, is proposed as an explanatory mechanism for the existence of mental diversity from an evolutionary perspective.

Hang-Yee Chan

Neural signature of advertisement liking: Insights into the psychological processes of consumer valuation and their temporal dynamics
University of Pennsylvania, USA; University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

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 this study, we pooled neuroimaging data from three functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments, involving 113 participants watching 85 video ads of different products and services. We first used machine-learning techniques to identify a neural signature of ad liking based on brain responses to video ads. Inspection of the neural signature suggests that mentalizing during video watching – understanding other people’s perspectives – is a strong predictor of ad liking. Volume-of-interest (VOI) analyses additionally confirm the roles of arousal-, memory- and emotion-related neural circuitries in subsequent self-reported liking. Lastly, 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.

Luke J. Chang

Towards a computational social and affective neuroscience
Dartmouth College, USA

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 this talk, 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.

Igor Grossmann

Sound judgment: Folk beliefs and empirical evidence
University of Waterloo, Canada

I will start by documenting 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. Next, I will compare these folk beliefs with the empirical insights from experimental philosophy, social psychology, and forecasting research: In each of these domains, 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.

Iiro P. Jääskeläinen

Combining behavioral and neuroimaging measures to estimate the neural basis of individual interpretations of narratives
Aalto University, Finland; HSE University, Russia

As one listens to a narrative, the words are translated into meanings and mental imagery that, based on, e.g., previous experiences and knowledge of the listener, can be quite different between individuals. In this talk, some factors contributing to such inter-individual differences are introduced, and approaches are described with which the inter-individual similarities and differences can be behaviorally measured and related to inter-individual similarities and differences in brain activity. These approaches are based on behavioral self-reports of experienced emotions as well as thoughts elicited by a narrative. Similarities-differences in the self-reports are quantified after which representational similarity analyses are carried out to determine in which brain regions similarities-differences in how a narrative has been experienced-interpreted predicts similarities-differences in brain activity.

Svetlana Kirdina-Chandler

Mesolevel approach as an inter-disciplinary methodology in Social Science and the Humanities for cross-countries studies
Institute of Economics of Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

The mesolevel approach is increasingly understood as a specific methodology in Economics (Dopfer & Potts, 2007), Social Science (Kirdina, 2015) and the Humanities (Kuz'mina, 2020). This approach focuses on the study of mesolevel, i.e. structures and phenomena providing social dynamics and economic reproduction. The function of the mesolevel is to organise coordinated interaction (understanding) between the subjects of the microlevel within the social systems of the macrolevel. Psychology of such mesostructures explores social mental models, Sociology and Economics explore institutions, and Linguistics - linguistic constants. The talk summarises the results of the application of the mesolevel approach to cross country interdisciplinary psychological and sociological research (Alexandrov, Kirdina, 2013), and sociological and linguistic research (Kirdina-Chandler, Kruglova, 2019).

Jonathan (Yoni) Levy

Social naturalistic stimuli in MEG
Aalto University, Finland; Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel

In recent years there has been a steady growth in the application of naturalistic stimuli in human neuroimaging studies to emulate cognitive and social processes under real-life conditions. In this presentation I will address the unique value that magnetoencephalography (MEG) neuroimaging puts forward while implementing experiments with naturalistic stimulation. First, MEG can achieve a fair balance between ecological validity and experimental rigor. Second, MEG enables the investigation of complex neural mechanisms: from probing neural dynamics, through quantifying connectivity patterns of large-scale brain systems, to representing neural generators of multiple rhythms and oscillations and how they relate to cognitive and affective behaviors. Finally, recent technological progress in mobile-MEG, OPMs, dual-MEG and multiple-brain analyses can potentially yield novel naturalistic paradigms and approaches in the near future.

Carolyn Parkinson

Creating a shared social world: Linking shared understanding and social connection in real-world social networks
University of California, Los Angeles, USA

In this talk, I will present a variety of collaborative work that integrates theory and methods from experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and social network analysis to examine links between shared understanding and social connection in real-world social networks. One set of studies tests if human social networks exhibit assortativity in how their members perceive, interpret, and respond to the world around them. Consistent with this possibility, we find that proximity between people in their shared real-world social networks is predicted by the similarity of their neural responses to naturalistic stimuli, by their subjective construals of ambiguous stimuli, and by the relative similarity of their functional connectomes. A second set of findings illustrates that people who process the world around them in a manner that is more reflective of community norms have greater levels of subjective and objective social connection in their community, above and beyond the effects of social distance. In a third set of studies, we examine how convergent processing of content (e.g., video clips) is related to the desire to share that content with others. We find that people are more inclined to share content that evokes convergent neural processing across members of their community, and that perceptions of community convergence play a causal role in promoting content sharing. Taken together, these findings highlight the link between social connection and shared understanding, and demonstrate the value of combining diverse levels of analysis to gain insight into how individuals perceive, shape, and are shaped by the world around them.

Gal Raz

Probing hyper-naturalistic embodiment: Electroencephalographic marker of body ownership in virtual reality
Tel Aviv University, Israel

The illusion that an artificial or virtual object becomes part of one’s body has been demonstrated and productively investigated in the past two decades. Empirical and theoretical accounts of this phenomenon suggest that the body ownership illusion relies not on a single process, but rather on the alignment of the biological and the alternative bodies across multiple aspects. However, the portrayal of these aspects and the demarcation of their neurophysiological correlates has yet to be established. The study investigates electroencephalographic (EEG) markers of two extensively studied systems in the context of virtual body ownership illusion: the mirror-neuron system (MNS) and the error-monitoring system (EMS). We designed an experimental manipulation of brief involuntary and unexpected virtual hand bounces, which trigger both systems, and tested how the response of EEG markers of these systems to this manipulation is modulated by three aspects of body ownership: agency, visuotactile synchronicity, and semantic congruence between the participant’s hands and its virtual representation. We found evidence for enhanced MNS-related power suppression at the Mu band in the synchronous and semantic congruence conditions. On the other hand, the EMS-related Pe/P300 wave was reduced by semantic congruence. This Pe/P300 effect was stronger among participants who exhibited higher acceptance of the spatial illusion and an increased tendency for affective empathy. Mu power and Pe/P300 were not correlated, suggesting a dissociation between the distinct aspects of body ownership they probe. The findings suggest that synchronicity and semantic congruence induce sensorimotor sensitivity to the alternative body, whereas the latter parameter also buffers minor erroneous virtual motions. These neurophysiological markers may be added to the arsenal of body ownership probes and incorporated into VR rehabilitation protocols.

Yaara Yeshurun

Neural mechanisms underlying opposing interpretation of political movie-clips
Tel Aviv University, Israel

People frequently interpret the same information differently, based on their prior beliefs and views. I will present an ongoing project that examines neural mechanisms underlying narrative interpretation in a political context. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, 20 right- and 20 left-wing participants were scanned just before April 2019 elections in Israel. In the MRI scanner, participants watched a neutral movie-clip, as well as left- and right-wing political campaign ads and speeches. Our behavioral results demonstrated a very significant difference between left and right wing participants in how much they agreed with the main message of the political clips, with no difference in how interesting and emotionally engaged they were with the content of the clips. Neuroimaging results revealed similarities and differences between the two groups. To each of the five clips, there was extensive brain response in both groups, including sensory regions and the mentalizing network. Our analyses revealed political opinion-based differences in prefrontal regions, motor and somatosensory cortices responses as well as in sub-cortical areas. Moreover, we found that participants who identified with right-wing views presented in the movie clips were more synchronized in their brain responses (compared to left-wing participants) while watching both left- and right-wing campaign ads. Interestingly, we found the opposite pattern for the left-wing political speech. This study may deepen our understanding of differences in subjective construal processes of real-life situations, by mapping their underlying brain mechanisms.