Centre for Cognitive Science (COGS)


COGS Seminars provide a forum for internationally recognised researchers from all corners of cognitive science research to present and discuss their latest findings. All are welcome to attend.

Spring 2019

Tuesdays 16:00-17:30


Feb 12    

The rubber hand illusion is (to an unknown degree) a suggestion effect. 
Peter Lush
University of Sussex

Abstract: The experience of ownership over a fake hand can be induced by providing synchronous tactile and visual information, so that a brush stroke on a participant’s concealed hand is experienced at the same time as brush strokes on a visible fake hand. This ‘rubber hand illusion’ has attracted considerable scientific interest because it appears to provide insight into bodily self-consciousness. Hypnotisability is the ability to generate experience in response to imaginative suggestion, an ability which can be engaged in non-hypnotic contexts. Hypnotisability is a normally distributed trait and experimental participants are drawn from this distribution. Paradigms which require a striking change in subjective experience may therefore reflect response to suggestion. In a large sample, we report evidence for a role of suggestion in implicit and explicit measures of the rubber hand illusion. The magnitude of reports of agreement with illusion statements is susceptible to direct suggestion and is positively related to hypnotisability. Proprioceptive drift (a perceived shift in hand location) is related to hypnotisability both in magnitude and in the difference in effect between synchronous and asynchronous inductions. Finally, both measures are sensitive to the implicit priming of expectations by information made available during testing. Measures of the rubber hand illusion are related to hypnotisability to a degree comparable to the relationship between hypnotisability and individual hypnotisability scale items. The rubber hand illusion is, therefore (and to an uncertain degree) a suggestion effect.

Pevensey 1 1B8 

Mar 5    

Deciphering the neural bricks of multi-component behavior using multi-modal neuroscientific approaches 
Christian Beste

Abstract: Everyday activities, such as, for example, driving a car or preparing a meal, require the hierarchical organization and processing of several individual actions. Quite often, we are left with the choice to try to do several things at once or to perform different tasks step by step. Currently, the neural mechanisms underlying the control of action sequences and how we cope with ‘multi-tasking situations’ are not well understood. I present results from a series of experiments combining different neuroscientific methods in health and disease with the goal to elucidate the mechanisms behind multi-component behavior. The talk presents my interpretation of doing cognitive neuroscience beyond the mainstream, aiming to encourage and inspire others to take similar approaches.

Arun 401

Mar 12

Ethics is for life, not just for the project timeline. Process- versus outcome- ethics in funded R&D
Steve Torrance

Abstract: How can researchers, funders and the public assume greater responsibility for the ways that the technologies that are developed re-shape society for good or ill? This is a discussion of the ethics of AI and Digital R&D, drawing on my experience as an ethics reviewer for the European Union under its FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes. I'll talk about how process-ethics (the issues arising during the work funded under an grant agreement) is organised. I'll go on to discuss the more problematic nature of ethical and societal scrutiny of outcomes - shorter and longer-term - of governmentally funded research and innovation.

Pev1 2A12

Mar 26

Computational Psychiatry and the Construction of Human Experience
Andy Clark

Abstract: An emerging body of work in cognitive philosophy and computational neuroscience depicts human brains as prediction machines – multi-level networks that specialize in using generative models to both match and anticipate the evolving stream of sensory information. However, the relationship between these posited cascades of prediction and conscious human experience itself remains unclear. Recent work in computational psychiatry provides important clues. For example, it is thought that malfunctions in hierarchical inference can explain core patterns of alteration seen in autism and schizophrenia, and can shed new light on so-called ‘psychogenic’ symptoms - functional impairments without standard organic causes. Such accounts reveal the deep continuities between perception, belief, and hallucination and may help reveal common processing motifs underlying both typical and atypical forms of human experience.

Arun 401

Apr 2

Ready for action? Decoding movement intentions from EEG activity
Ceci Verbaarschot

Abstract: Prior to the performance of a self-paced voluntary movement, certain motor-related processes have been found predictive of movement onset and type. The most well known examples of such processes measurable via electroencephalography (EEG) include the Readiness Potential (RP) and the Event-Related Desynchronization (ERD) in the alpha and beta bands (8-30Hz). Both signals arise on average up to 2s prior to movement onset across the motor cortex. Interestingly, they have their onset on average beforea person reports their intention to move. In other words, prior to the moment at which a person experiences a conscious intention to movenow, their brain already shows signs of movement preparation. These results open up the opportunity to detect an intention to move from brain activity prior to movement onset (perhaps even prior to a person’s awareness of wanting to move). Doing so could greatly benefit the development of advanced prosthetics and motor-rehabilitation techniques that respond to your intention to move rather than your (imagined) movement. In order to develop such applications, (1) the RP and alpha/beta ERD must consistently precede an intention to move on a single trial level and (2) these brain signals must remain detectable and predictive of motor intentions outside a controlled laboratory environment. During this talk, I will provide an overview of my results on decoding both spontaneous and deliberate motor intentions from EEG activity across a series of five independent experiments that were conducted in and outside the lab. Both my own research and that of others have reached only slightly above chance level predictions (±65% accuracy) and include many false positive predictions. Through these experiments, I have come to realize that the RP and alpha/beta ERD are likely not the cause of a motor intention as they lack single trial precedence. However, I do believe that in certain contexts they may act as potential instigators of intention reports as we have found the RP and alpha/beta ERD to correlate with certain aspects of the experience and reportability of an intention to move. As such, the prediction of motor intentions on the basis of these signals may never reach outstanding performance as they may be seen as an ingredient to the report of an intention, rather than the cause of an intention itself.

Arts A A103 

Apr 9

How can we Discover General Scientific Theories of Consciousness?
David Gamez

Abstract: Most of the previous work on consciousness has focused on neural correlates of consciousness in humans and similar animals. The limitation of this work is that it cannot be generalized to animals with different brain architectures or to artificial systems. To move beyond neural correlates and discover generalizable theories of consciousness we have to solve four difficult problems. First, we need much more clarity about how consciousness can be measured. Next we need to move away from neural correlates of consciousness and find new ways of describing spatiotemporal patterns in the brain that could form the basis for generalizable theories of consciousness. Third, we need less anthropomorphic ways of describing consciousness. Finally we have to drop our desire for intuitively satisfying explanations of consciousness and search for mathematical relationships between formal descriptions of consciousness and formal descriptions of the physical world. When these problems have been solved we will be able to use human and animal experiments to discover general mathematical theories that can make believable predictions about the consciousness of cephalopods, insects and artificial systems.

Biography:David Gamez is a lecturer in computer science at Middlesex University, with expertise in philosophy, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. His latest book, Human and Machine Consciousness, came out last year (https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/545), and his previous publications include What We Can Never Know (2007), What Philosophy Is (2004), co-edited with Havi Carel, and many papers and book chapters on philosophy, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. A complete list of Gamez’s talks and publications is available on his website: www.davidgamez.eu.

A paper that is closely linked to the talk is available here: http://www.davidgamez.eu/papers/Gamez_AAAI2018_FourPreconditionsMC4Consciousness.pdf. David's book gives a more detailed overview of the issues that are covered in the talk: https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/545.

Chi 3 3R143 

Apr 30

The rational(?) status of the conjunction effect
Emmanuel Pothos
City University London

Abstract:The predominant normative and descriptive framework for human decision making is classical (Bayesian) probability. Despite many predictive successes, there have also been reports of persistent violations of key classical principles in human behaviour, for example, as associated with the influential Tversky, Kahneman tradition (e.g., Nobel prize in economics for Kahneman in 2002 and recently for Thaler). A particularly evocative finding is the so-called conjunction effect, according to which in some cases participants are happy to consider Prob(A&B)>Prob(A). Can human intuition be so much at odds with (classical) probabilistic prescription? Classical probability theory is not the only formal probabilistic framework potentially relevant in decision theory. Quantum probability theory — the probability rules from quantum mechanics without any of the physics — is a potential alternative. Can the application of quantum probability theory shed light on the rational or otherwise status of the conjunction effect? Can we be justified in employing tools from physics in psychology? What exactly is quantum in human cognition? Are there novel, interesting predictions from the application of quantum theory to psychology? The aim of the seminar would be to consider these questions and generally motivate the application of quantum theory in cognition.

Presentation slides [PPTX 2.47MB]

Emmanuel Pothos

Ful 202

May 14

Title: Offloaded Agency
Takashi Ikegami

Abstract: I have developed a new android called “Alter”. Based on the artificial life principle (using T3 chaos and the new learning principle called stimulus avoidance[1][2]), Alter behaves autonomously and he receives visual and sound information from the environment. Here Alter mimics human behavior coming in front of him spontaneously using the internal simulator. Especially with this version at the Barbican center[3], Alter creates new actions patterns by switching between the action sequence generated by the internal simulator and the stored memories of its past behaviors. I would like to discuss the purpose of this project Alter and the concept of " offloaded agency". This work is also based on the series of our psychological experiments called Perceptual Crossing Experiments"[4].


[1] Lana Sinapayen, Atsushi Masumori, Takashi Ikegami: Learning by stimulation avoidance: A principle to control spiking neural networks dynamics., PLoS ONE,12(2): e0170388. 2017.

[2] Doi, I., Ikegami, T., Masumori, A., Kojima, H., Ogawa K., and Ishiguro, H. A new design principle for an autonomous robot, 14th European Conference on Artificial Life(ECAL2017), pp.490-466.

[3] The Barbican major new exhibition 2019 May 15th- : AI: More than Human http://digicult.it/slider/ai-more-than-human/

[4] Hiroki Kojima, Tom Froese, Mizuki Oka, Hiroyuki Iizuka, Takashi Ikegami: A Sensorimotor Signature of the Transition to Conscious Social Perception: Co-regulation of Active and Passive Touch, Frontiers in Psychology, 8.01778, 2017.


Jubilee 144

Contact COGS

For suggestions for speakers, contact Simon Bowes

For publicity and questions regarding the website, contact Simon Bowes.

Please mention COGS and COGS seminars to all potentially interested newcomers to the university.

A good way to keep informed about COGS Seminars is to be a member of COGS.  Any member of the university may join COGS and the COGS mailing list by using the subscription form at http://lists.sussex.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/cogs.

Follow us on Twitter: @SussexCOGS