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Department of Psychology

 
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This list is intended to include all talks and seminars taking place in the Department of Psychology and certain related institutions.
Updated: 54 min 4 sec ago

Thu 14 Oct 12:30: Non-canonical ventral pallidal circuits and their relevance for treating addiction

Wed, 13/10/2021 - 10:05
Non-canonical ventral pallidal circuits and their relevance for treating addiction

Abstract The ventral pallidum is a brain area which is critically important for assessing hedonic value of reward and encoding motivational drive. Classically, the VP is considered an inhibitory ‘relay’ between the nucleus accumbens and midbrain structures. Our recent work challenges this model of information flow in the basal ganglia. We characterize two non-canonical populations of ventral pallidal neurons: 1) ventral pallidal glutamatergic neurons which follow canonical output pathways, but exert opposing excitatory drive on downstream structures, and 2) arkypallidal neurons, which robustly innervate and inhibit the nucleus accumbens in a value-dependent manner. We show that these populations are critical for constraining reward seeking in the face of aversive consequences, and encoding reward palatability to promote consumption, respectively. We discuss how adaptations in these pathways undergo adaptations that contribute to symptoms of impaired reward processing in the context of substance use disorders, and how harnessing this cellular heterogeneity may lead to cell-type specific neuromodulation therapies for these disorders.

Biography Dr Meaghan Creed obtained her HBSc and PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Toronto in Canada, then moved to Geneva Switzerland for post-doctoral training. Throughout her career, she has focused on understanding and optimizing deep brain stimulation (DBS) applied to the basal ganglia for neurological and psychiatric disorders. Now an assistant professor at the WashU Pain center, she and her team are working to develop new neuromodulation therapies to treat symptoms at the interface of chronic pain, addiction and mood disorders. For detailed biography of Dr Creed, please visit: https://www.creedlab.org/meaghan-creed.html

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Thu 11 Nov 12:30: New paradigms for the negative symptoms

Tue, 12/10/2021 - 10:01
New paradigms for the negative symptoms

Abstract One of schizophrenia’s core symptoms, negative symptoms have been some how neglected in research over half of a century. But this is quickly changing with the advent of novel scales and theoretical models and promising treatments in the pipeline. In his talk, we will present the historical and conceptual issues with the term to then introduce our work in the characterisation and pathophysiology of negative symptom.

Biography Emilio Fernandez-Egea is consultant psychiatrist and associate lecturer at the Department of Psychiatry and associate editor for the BJPsych. He recently set up the CPFT Cambridge Psychosis Centre, a second opinion unit for people with schizophrenia, in which patients with negative symptoms of schizophrenia are studied and treated, among others. For more information about Dr Fernandez-Egea and his work, please visit: https://www.cpft.nhs.uk/psychosis-centre or https://www.psychiatry.cam.ac.uk/groups/epicentre/projects/f20/

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Thu 11 Nov 12:30: New paradigms for the negative symptoms

Tue, 12/10/2021 - 09:51
New paradigms for the negative symptoms

Abstract One of schizophrenia’s core symptoms, negative symptoms have been some how neglected in research over half of a century. But this is quickly changing with the advent of novel scales and theoretical models and promising treatments in the pipeline. In his talk, we will present the historical and conceptual issues with the term to then introduce our work in the characterisation and pathophysiology of negative symptom.

Biography Emilio Fernandez-Egea is consultant psychiatrist and associate lecturer at the Department of Psychiatry and associate editor for the BJPsych. He recently set up the CPFT Cambridge Psychosis Centre, a second opinion unit for people with schizophrenia, in which patients with negative symptoms of schizophrenia were studied and treated, among others. For more information about Dr Fernandez-Egea and his work, please visit: https://www.cpft.nhs.uk/psychosis-centre or https://www.psychiatry.cam.ac.uk/groups/epicentre/projects/f20/

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Fri 12 Nov 16:15: Can we nudge to zero? Promises and pitfalls of behavioural insights-based climate policies

Mon, 11/10/2021 - 12:10
Can we nudge to zero? Promises and pitfalls of behavioural insights-based climate policies

Behavioural climate policy is increasingly complementing other policy approaches and tools mitigating climate change. The talk presents the current debate and latest research as regards the possibilities and limits of nudging consumers to more sustainable, climate friendly lifestyles and consumer choices.

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Fri 22 Oct 16:15: Some lessons one philosopher drew from thinking about wanting and liking

Mon, 11/10/2021 - 11:58
Some lessons one philosopher drew from thinking about wanting and liking

This talk will reflect on some lessons learnt from working with Kent Berridge on addiction and the wanting/liking distinction. In particular I will be talking about the signficance of wanting; the distinction between its presentation as a dispositional and as an occurrent state; the role of higher order desires; the role of self-control; and the possible role of pleasure. It will be a little short on firm conclusions, except those concerning how much remains unclear.

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Fri 05 Nov 16:15: Human action selection under threat: computing adaptive behaviour

Mon, 11/10/2021 - 08:57
Human action selection under threat: computing adaptive behaviour

Behaving appropriately under threat is key to survival. It also poses a range of interesting computational challenges unparalleled in other domains. A suggested solution to these demands is a computing architecture that relies on a multiplicity of tailored algorithms for specific threat scenarios. However, evidence for this suggestion is circumstantial in non-humans, and scarce in humans. In my talk, I will discuss the methodological problem of investigating threat avoidance in humans, and present pharmacological, clinical lesion, and neuroimaging data to support the validity of serious computer games as a way forward. Using different games that emulate a situation of approaching reward under threat (i.e. risky foraging), I triangulate a cognitive-computational algorithm for behavioral control in this scenario. This algorithm appears to be under instrumental and partly model-based control, with approximations of different granularity used in parallel. MEG data suggest some ideas about neural implementation.

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Fri 03 Dec 16:15: The neural circuit underlying perceptual expectations

Thu, 07/10/2021 - 14:06
The neural circuit underlying perceptual expectations

Abstract not available

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Fri 26 Nov 16:15: What does magic tell us about free will?

Thu, 07/10/2021 - 13:57
What does magic tell us about free will?

Magicians amaze their audiences by creating illusions that allow you to experience the impossible. In the MAGIC lab, we study magic tricks to gain insights into the nature of these magical experiences, as well as the psychological mechanism that underpin them. In this talk I will focus on the principle of forcing. Forcing is a magic technique used to covertly influence a person’s choice. I will examine our new framework on forcing which distinguished between techniques in which magicians covertly influence a person’s decision (decision forces) or the outcome of a decision (outcome forces). I will then present empirical studies on forcing to illuminate the psychological mechanisms that underpin them. Some of these forces rely on priming, such as when hand gestures are used to prime the spectator to name a particular playing card. Other forces rely on exploiting cognitive biases, such as when playing cards are placed in more prominant physical locations. Our empirical investigations reveal the ease by which people’s decisions can be influenced and people’s obliviousness towards these influences. In the final part I will examine empirical studies on outcome forces. These studies demonstrate that people often fail to realize that their decisions have no impact on the outcome of the decision. Our research on forcing illustrates the ease by which our mind can be influenced and manipulated. These findings add to the view that our sense of free will is a compelling illusion.

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Fri 26 Nov 16:15: What does magic tell us about free will?

Thu, 07/10/2021 - 09:38
What does magic tell us about free will?

Abstract not available

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Wed 13 Oct 15:00: Not born Yesterday: Why humans are less gullible than we think

Wed, 06/10/2021 - 15:21
Not born Yesterday: Why humans are less gullible than we think

It is often thought that humans are gullible, easily manipulated by demagogues, advertisers, and politicians. I will argue that the opposite is true: humans are equipped with a set of psychological mechanisms that allow them to properly evaluate communicated information, and to reject information that is false or harmful. I will rely on experimental psychology data, as well as studies showing the failures of mass persuasion, from Nazi propaganda to American presidential campaigns. I will also suggest that, with the right argument, people can be persuaded to acquire more accurate beliefs.

Please note the earlier-than-usual start time of 3pm

Click-through for the Zoom link: https://www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/study/current-postgraduates/spss-joining-details

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Wed 01 Dec 16:00: Cognition in (social) context: A social-interactionist approach to emergent phenomena

Wed, 06/10/2021 - 15:21
Cognition in (social) context: A social-interactionist approach to emergent phenomena

The development of shared memories is a critical characteristic of human communities. From small groups such as families to large ones such as nations, communities form collective memories of past events that often impact their identities and behaviors. This emergent outcome (i.e., shared memories) is thought to occur owing to a dynamic system of information sharing and memory updating, which fundamentally depends on communication. In this talk, I will present a research program to study how communities dynamically form these collective memories. Using experiments that involve conversational interactions in social networks, I will show how large-scale social phenomena (i.e., collective memory) can emerge out of microlevel local dynamics (i.e., mnemonic reinforcement and suppression effects). The social-interactionist research program proposed herein offers a framework for measuring and forging collective-level outcomes in communities of individuals.

Click-through for the Zoom link: https://www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/study/current-postgraduates/spss-joining-details

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Wed 20 Oct 16:00: Saying “No” Is Harder Than We Think: Implications for Compliance and Consent

Wed, 06/10/2021 - 15:18
Saying “No” Is Harder Than We Think: Implications for Compliance and Consent

Saying “no” is hard. By refusing a request—whether a request for help, a romantic advance, or something more nefarious—one risks offending one’s interaction partner and embarrassing everyone involved. As a result, people regularly agree to things—even things they would prefer not to do—in order to avoid the considerable discomfort of saying “no.” Yet when we are not the ones facing the immediate prospect of saying “no,” we tend to discount the power of these concerns as drivers of behavior. I will demonstrate that this tendency to underestimate the role of discomfort in driving compliance leads people to underestimate the likelihood that people will agree to both their prosocial and unethical requests, and view compliance with such requests as more voluntary than targets experience their own acquiescence. These findings have important implications for determining whether someone has voluntarily consented to a request or merely complied.

Click-through for the Zoom link: https://www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/study/current-postgraduates/spss-joining-details

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Wed 13 Oct 15:00: Not born Yesterday: Why humans are less gullible than we think

Wed, 06/10/2021 - 10:52
Not born Yesterday: Why humans are less gullible than we think

It is often thought that humans are gullible, easily manipulated by demagogues, advertisers, and politicians. I will argue that the opposite is true: humans are equipped with a set of psychological mechanisms that allow them to properly evaluate communicated information, and to reject information that is false or harmful. I will rely on experimental psychology data, as well as studies showing the failures of mass persuasion, from Nazi propaganda to American presidential campaigns. I will also suggest that, with the right argument, people can be persuaded to acquire more accurate beliefs.

Please note the earlier-than-usual start time of 3pm

Zoom link to follow.

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Fri 15 Oct 16:15: Hippocampal LTP and Psychiatry: The Prime Suspect

Wed, 06/10/2021 - 09:31
Hippocampal LTP and Psychiatry: The Prime Suspect

It is nearly 50 years since Bliss and Lomo first reported the long-lasting potentiation of synaptic transmission in the hippocampus (now long-term potentiation; LTP ). Subsequently, deficits in hippocampal synaptic plasticity has been implicated in various psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease. Hippocampal LTP has become one of the most widely studied phenomena in neuroscience, and enormous resources have been poured into research efforts to develop treatment strategies for these disorders that target hippocampal LTP but with limited success. This failure, at least in part, reflects a lack of understanding as to the precise psychological sequelae of hippocampal LTP . The idea that hippocampal LTP provides the neural substrate for the formation of associative memories has predominated in neuroscience text books, although the empirical support for this hypothesis is limited at best. Here we provide an alternative account of the role of hippocampal synaptic plasticity in the priming of memories. This account can explain why deficits in hippocampal synaptic plasticity can lead to deficits in episodic memory retrieval in some cases, but psychosis in disorders like schizophrenia in others. It can also potentially account for the learning processes that might underpin the improvement in mood following anti-depressant treatment in patients.

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Fri 19 Nov 16:15: Time perception as accumulation of salient events

Tue, 05/10/2021 - 14:51
Time perception as accumulation of salient events

Human perception and experience of time on the scale of seconds to minutes depends heavily on the context and content of experience, as clearly reflected in aphorisms such as “time flies when you’re having fun” or “a watched pot never boils”. It has been established for decades at least that both lower-level stimulus properties – e.g. the rate of change, speed, or complexity of the stimulus – as well as higher-level complexities – e.g. the type of scene you are in, busy or quiet – strongly influence perceived time. In these cases, the intuition that more-stuff-happening-faster results in longer perceived duration generally holds. These features of the natural experience of time indicate that a basis for human time perception might be found in the dynamics of neural activity across sensory processing hierarchies – specifically in the moments of larger changes in activity that we refer to as salient events. We proposed that a simple way to characterise and track salient events was as a kind of prediction error. We started by simply using the difference between states of neural networks in successive instances. This assumes that, in the absence of any more precise information, the immediate past is a good prediction of the immediate future. We have shown that our algorithmic approach can reproduce human-like estimates of and biases in time perception when applied to both models of the visual processing hierarchy – deep convolutional neural networks trained for image classification – and neuroimaging data from the human visual processing hierarchy. Further, we can even predict trial-by-trial subjective reports of duration for a given participant based only on (fMRI) BOLD measured while they view naturalistic videos. Using salient events as a basis for time perception links naturally with predictive coding accounts of perception, as well as the prominent event segmentation-based accounts of episodic memory. We are currently working to compare model-based and data-driven approaches to event segmentation as applied in EEG /MEG to see which features are common to the different methods as well as where they diverge both from each other and from human annotations of naturalistic experience. This line of work resolves many contentious perspectives in the time perception field, while also bringing time perception and episodic memory back to the same basic units of operation – salient events in experience – all under a predictive processing framework.

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Fri 03 Dec 16:15: TBC

Tue, 05/10/2021 - 14:45
TBC

Abstract not available

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Fri 03 Dec 16:15: TBC

Tue, 05/10/2021 - 14:45
TBC

Abstract not available

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Fri 26 Nov 16:15: TBC

Tue, 05/10/2021 - 14:42
TBC

Abstract not available

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Fri 12 Nov 16:15: Can we nudge to zero?

Tue, 05/10/2021 - 14:41
Can we nudge to zero?

Abstract not available

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Fri 05 Nov 16:15: TBC

Tue, 05/10/2021 - 14:36
TBC

Abstract not available

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