AFC Lab Talk Series

We host a virtual talk series on Wednesdays. Our aim: to support early-career researchers and underrepresented groups by providing a platform for their work and increasing networking opportunities.

If you'd like to give a talk, drop us a message and we'll get it organised.

For details on how to access the talks and view the event schedule, see the World Wide Neuro site.

Wed, 29 Mar 2023
Dissociating learning-induced effects of meaning and familiarity in visual working memory for Chinese characters.
AFC Lab, University of Lausanne
Visual working memory (VWM) is limited in capacity, but memorizing meaningful objects may refine this limitation. However, meaningless and meaningful stimuli usually differ perceptually and an object’s association with meaning is typically already established before the actual experiment. We applied a strict control over these potential confounds by asking observers (N=45) to actively learn associations of (initially) meaningless objects. To this end, a change detection task presented Chinese characters, which were meaningless to our observers. Subsequently, half of the characters were consistently paired with pictures of animals. Then, the initial change detection task was repeated. The results revealed enhanced VWM performance after learning, in particular for meaning-associated characters (though not quite reaching the accuracy level attained by N=20 native Chinese observers). These results thus provide direct experimental evidence that the short-term retention of objects benefits from active learning of an object’s association with meaning in long-term memory.
Wed, 19 Apr 2023
Diagnosing dementia using Fastball neurocognitive assessment
University of Bath
Fastball is a novel, fast, passive biomarker of cognitive function, that uses cheap, scalable electroencephalography (EEG) technology. It is sensitive to early dementia; language, education, effort and anxiety independent and can be used in any setting including patients’ homes. It can capture a range of cognitive functions including semantic memory, recognition memory, attention and visual function. We have shown that Fastball is sensitive to cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment, with data collected in patients’ homes using low-cost portable EEG. We are now preparing for significant scale-up and the validation of Fastball in primary and secondary care.
Wed, 03 May 2023
A new science of emotion: How brain-mind-body processes form functional neurological disorder
Bochum University Hospital Knappschaftskrankenhaus, Germany
One of the most common medical conditions you’ve (maybe) never heard of – functional neurological disorder – lays at the interface of neurology and psychiatry and offers a window into fundamental brain-mind-body processes. Across ancient and modern times, functional neurological disorder has had a long and tumultuous history, with an evolving debate and understanding of how biopsychosocial factors contribute to the manifestation of the disorder. A central issue in contemporary discussions has revolved around questioning the extent to which emotions play a mechanistic and aetiological role in functional neurological disorder. Critical in this context, however, is that this ongoing debate has largely omitted the question of what emotions are in the first place. This talk first brings together advances in the understanding of working principles of the brain fundamental to introducing a new understanding of what emotions are. Building on recent theoretical frameworks from affective neuroscience, the idea of how the predictive process of emotion construction can be an integral component of the pathophysiology of functional neurological disorder is discussed.
Wed, 24 May 2023
Brain and Behavior: Employing Frequency Tagging as a Tool for Measuring Cognitive Abilities
University of Heidelberg
Frequency tagging based on fast periodic visual stimulation (FPVS) provides a window into ongoing visual and cognitive processing and can be leveraged to measure rule learning and high-level categorization. In this talk, I will present data demonstrating highly proficient categorization as living and non-living in preschool children, and characterize the development of this ability during infancy. In addition to associating cognitive functions with development, an intriguing question is whether frequency tagging also captures enduring individual differences, e.g. in general cognitive abilities. First studies indicate high psychometric quality of FPVS categorization responses (XU et al., Dzhelyova), providing a basis for research on individual differences. I will present results from a pilot study demonstrating high correlations between FPVS categorization responses and behavioral measures of processing speed and fluid intelligences. Drawing upon this first evidence, I will discuss the potential of frequency tagging for diagnosing cognitive functions across development.