Event archive

Rasmus Bruckner | Adaptive learning under uncertainty: Computational mechanisms and lifespan differences

Guest Lecture
Learning often takes place in environments, in which it is impossible to exactly know current and future outcomes. To successfully behave in such uncertain environments, humans have to learn appropriate beliefs from past experiences that can be used to predict desirable and undesirable outcomes. Drawing on optimal inference models and behavioural learning tasks, I will illustrate how learning under uncertainty should be regulated from a normative perspective and how learning deficits may emerge from deviations from these computations. I will show how human participants learn in the face of perceptual uncertainty and to which extent the ability to adjust learning in dynamically changing environments differs between age groups across the lifespan. Moreover, I will explore the possibility that the intricate computations to optimally adjust learning may often be simplified by resorting to heuristic strategies that are guided by previous choices. Finally, I will discuss some future directions that follow from these results. [more]

Dr Monika Schönauer | Imaging memory consolidation in wakefulness and sleep

Mind Meeting

PhD Peter Johannes Uhlhaas | Using Magnetoencephalography to Identify Circuit Dysfunctions and Biomarkers in Schizophrenia

Guest Lecture
A considerable body of work over the last 10 years combining non-invasive electrophysiology (electroencephalography/magnetoencephalography) in patient populations with preclinical research has contributed to the conceptualization of schizophrenia as a disorder associated with aberrant neural dynamics and disturbances in excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance parameters. Specifically, I will propose that recent technological and analytic advances in MEG provide novel opportunities to address these fundamental questions as well as establish important links with translational research. We have carried out several studies which have tested the importance of neural oscillations in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia through a combination of MEG-measurements in ScZ-patients and pharmacological manipulations in healthy volunteers which target the NMDA-receptor. These results highlight a pronounced impairment in high-frequency activity in both chronic and unmedicated patients which could provide novel insights into basic circuit mechanisms underlying cognitive and perceptual dysfunctions. However, acute Ketamine only partly recreates abnormalities observed in both resting-state and task-related neural oscillations in ScZ, suggesting potentially shortcoming of this pharmacological model for capturing large-scale network dysfunctions. Our recent work has employed MEG to develop a biomarker for early detection and diagnosis of ScZ. We have obtained MEG- and MRS-data from 125 participants meeting clinical high-risk criteria (CHR), 90 controls and 30 FEP-patients. We found marked changes in the synchrony of gamma-band oscillations in visual and auditory cortices during sensory processing which predicted clinical outcomes. In addition, CHR-participants were characterized by elevated broad-band gamma-band activity at rest which correlated with increased glutamate levels. Together, these findings highlight the potential of MEG-based biomarkers for the early diagnosis of ScZ in at-risk populations. [more]

PhD Hadas Okon-Singer | Cognitive-Emotional Biases in Psychopathology: Searching for New Treatment Strategies

Guest Lecture
Various psychological disorders are characterized by pronounced cognitive biases, including biased orienting of attention to certain stimuli, distorted expectation of the likelihood to encounter specific objects, biased interpretation of ambiguous information and biased perception. Although these biases are common in psychopathology, most of the studies so far focused on one bias by employing traditional analysis methods. Therefore, little is known about the correlational and causal relations between different biases and about combined patterns that may characterize certain disorders. In this talk, I will discuss recent behavioral, fMRI and autonomic data showing links between biases, as well as modulation of biased emotional processing in different populations. Moreover, by employing machine-learning based analysis, we managed to specify specific behavioral patterns that characterize anxiety vs. depression, two disorders that share many characteristics and show high comorbidity. Finally, I will discuss recent evidence for abnormalities in the blood pressure reaction to aversive pictures among individuals with pre- hypertension, a population that is usually not studied in the context of psychological reactions. Taken together, these findings suggest new strategies to explore and treat maladaptive behaviors that have fundamental implications on the patients’ life. [more]

Prof. György Buzsáki | Mind the brain: What do we want to understand

Mind Meeting
Multisensory integration does not only recruit higher-level association cortex, but also primary sensory cortices like A1 (auditory), S1 (somatosensory), and V1 (visual). The underlying anatomical pathways, which might preferentially serve short-latency integration processes, include direct thalamocortical and corticocortical connections across the senses. We investigated how these multisensory connections develop over the individual’s lifespan and how early sensory deprivation alters them. Using tracer injections into A1, S1, and V1 of a rodent model (Mongolian gerbil) we could show that multisensory thalamocortical connections emerge before corticocortical connections but mostly disappear towards the end of the critical sensory period. Early auditory, somatosensory, or visual deprivation increases multisensory connections via axonal reorganization processes mediated by non-lemniscal thalamic nuclei and the primary areas themselves. Functional imaging reveals a mostly reduced stimulus-induced activity but a higher functional connectivity specifically between primary areas in deprived animals. In adult animals, primary sensory cortices receive substantial inputs from thalamic nuclei and cortical areas of non-matched sensory modalities. In very old animals, these multisensory connections strongly decrease in number or vanish entirely. This is likely due to a retraction of the projection neuron axonal branches and is accompanied by changes in anatomical correlates of inhibition and excitation in the sensory thalamus and cortex. Together, we show that during early development, intracortical multisensory connections are formed as a consequence of sensory driven multisensory thalamocortical activity and that during aging, multisensory processing is probably shifted from primary cortices towards other sensory brain areas. [more]

Prof. Costantino Iadecola | The Vascular Biology of Dementia

Guest Lecture

Dr Gabriel Ziegler | Brain changes during the transition from adolescence into adulthood

Guest Lecture

PhD Yasemin Vardar | Tactile perception of electrovibration displayed on touchscreens

Guest Lecture
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