CNS 2023 Annual Meeting | Conference Videos
Opening Ceremonies and Keynote Address - Poverty and Neuroscience: A Fish and a Bicycle?
Martha J. Farah, PhD, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Natural Sciences, University of Pennsylvania
Does neuroscience have anything useful to contribute to our understanding of poverty and its harmful effects? Early work indicates that it may, despite the very different concepts appropriate for describing poverty or socioeconomic status more generally (income, educational attainment, and occupational status) and the brain (regions, networks, and neurotransmitters). To assess the prospects for fruitful interdisciplinary integration, I will first take you on a flyby of recent work on the neuroscience of socioeconomic status, sampling the questions that have been asked and the answers that are emerging. I will then consider the potential policy implications of this work, as well as scientific challenges and limitations and the worries expressed by some concerning reductionism and victim-blaming.
The 29th Annual George A. Miller Prize in Cognitive Neuroscience (GAM) - Everyone knows what attention is …” – On its neural basis in the primate brain
Sabine Kastner, Ph.D., Princeton University
The selection of information from our cluttered sensory environments, often referred to as ‘attention’, is one of the most fundamental cognitive operations performed by the primate brain. In the visual domain, the selection process is thought to be mediated by a spatial mechanism – a ‘spotlight’ that can be flexibly shifted around the visual scene. In my lecture, I will provide an overview on its neural basis by discussing neuroimaging and intracranial electrophysiology studies in the human and monkey brain. Neuroimaging studies have shown that the spatial selection mechanism engages a large-scale network that consists of multiple nodes distributed across all major cortical lobes and includes also subcortical regions in the midbrain and thalamus. Electrophysiology studies have provided a rich understanding of the specific functions of each network node and their functional interactions. Key findings reveal that (i) the cortical network is coordinated by a thalamic timekeeper in the pulvinar and (ii) processing in sensory cortex is modulated by feedback signals from a fronto-parietal control network. The fronto-parieto-pulvinar network is characterized by complex temporal dynamics that set up alternating attentional states, which emphasize either environmental sampling of information or shifting of spatial selection to a new location and can be measured as behavioral rhythms. Collectively, these studies in the adult brain set the stage for translational applications such as exploring the typical and atypical development of attention function and its deficits in neurological and psychiatric diseases.
The 12th Annual Fred Kavli Distinguished Career Contributions Award (DCC) - A tale about the frontal lobes as told by a neurologist
Mark D'Esposito, MD, Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology University of California, Berkeley
A full understanding of frontal lobe function continues to elude neurologists and neuroscientists. Neurologists caring for patients with frontal lobe damage describe dramatic changes in their cognition and personality. Cognitive neuroscientists who study healthy individuals in the lab have discovered various frontal lobe functions, such as working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility. Do the findings in the lab explain the real-life impact of frontal lobe damage? Can we ever develop a theory of frontal lobe function without incorporating clinical observations of individuals with frontal lobe damage? Through the lens of the neurological patients I have encountered and from what I have learned in my lab, I will attempt to answer these crucial questions.
Young Investigator Award Lectures, sponsored by The Chen Institute
YIA 1: Learning Representations of Specifics and Generalities Over Time
Anna Schapiro, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Department of Psychology
There is a fundamental tension between storing discrete traces of individual experiences, which allows recall of particular moments in our past without interference, and extracting regularities across these experiences, which supports generalization and prediction in similar situations in the future. One influential proposal for how the brain resolves this tension is that it separates the processes anatomically into Complementary Learning Systems, with the hippocampus rapidly encoding individual episodes and the neocortex slowly extracting regularities over days, months, and years. But this does not explain our ability to learn and generalize from new regularities in our environment quickly, often within minutes. We have put forward a neural network model of the hippocampus that suggests that the hippocampus itself may contain complementary learning systems, with one pathway specializing in the rapid learning of regularities and a separate pathway handling the region’s classic episodic memory functions. This proposal has broad implications for how we learn and represent novel information of specific and generalized types, which we test across statistical learning, inference, and category learning paradigms. We also explore how this system interacts with slower-learning neocortical memory systems, with empirical and modeling investigations into how the hippocampus shapes neocortical representations during sleep. Together, the work helps us understand how structured information in our environment is initially encoded and how it then transforms over time.
Focusing Working Memory for Behaviour
Freek van Ede, Ph.D., Institute for Brain and Behavior Amsterdam, Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Working memory regards the past but serves the future. Adopting this future-focused perspective shifts the narrative of working memory as a temporary storage with limited capacity to working memory as an anticipatory buffer that enables us to prepare for potential and sequential upcoming behaviour. In such a framework, selective attention plays a vital role because it serves not only to bring selected information into working memory but also to dynamically prioritise internal representations for guiding anticipated behaviour. In my talk, I will present a series of our recent studies that have started to reveal emerging principles of a working memory that looks forward – highlighting, amongst others, how working memory incorporates actions rather than merely preceding them. Collectively, these studies show how studying the dynamics of working memory, selective attention, and action together paves way for a rich and integrated understanding of how mind serves behaviour.
CNS at 30: Perspectives on the Roots, Present, and Future of Cognitive Neuroscience
Co-Chairs: : Patricia Reuter-Lorenz, University of Michigan & George (Ron) Mangun, University of California, Davis
Speakers: Daniel L. Schacter, Marlene Behrmann, Nick Turk-Browne, Adriana Galvan
This symposium commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society by bringing together four speakers to offer their perspectives on the roots, current developments, and future directions of our field. The speakers, each of whom has been recognized for their outstanding scientific contributions by accolades from CNS and from the broader profession, will discuss advances in human brain science made possible by cognitive neuroscience approaches to research on topics including memory, vision, complex pattern recognition, early child development, digital media and adolescent mental health.
TALK 1: On the Emergence of Cognitive Neuroscience: Memory Research as a Case Study
Daniel L. Schacter, Department of Psychology and Center for Brain Science, Harvard University
One of the key strengths of cognitive neuroscience lies in its incorporation of ideas and methods from multiple complementary approaches, including cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, behavioral neuroscience, and functional neuroimaging. This presentation will examine the emergence of cognitive neuroscience during the past half-century through the lens of memory research, focusing on the development of interactions among cognitive, neuropsychological, and neuroscientific approaches during the 1980s that set the stage for the explosive growth of functional neuroimaging studies of memory beginning in the 1990s. The formation of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in 1993 was well-timed to crystallize and promote the further development of cognitive neuroscience approaches to memory that have continued to shape the field for the past 30 years.
TALK 2: At Least a Hundred Years of Hemispheric Lateralization Studies and Still Going Strong
Marlene Behrmann, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
In February 2023, a Pubmed search with the term ‘hemispheric specialization’ yielded 21,748 papers, all of which seek to identify and understand which particular functions are the purview of the right versus left hemisphere. Cognitive neuroscience as a discipline continues to pursue answers to this question. In this talk, I will describe the ongoing contribution of cognitive neuroscience approaches to advancing our understanding of cortical organization. I will take as my focus the neural mechanisms that subserve complex visual pattern recognition, and will draw on evidence from studies of the visual system in health and disease (normal adults and children, individuals with focal neuropsychological deficits, and individuals with hemispherectomy or lobectomy) adopting multiple methodologies (psychophysics, neuroimaging, stereoencephalography). I will propose that visual recognition emerges from the interactive engagement of a network of regions, which is distributed within and across both hemispheres, and which evince graded functional specialization. Data will be used to test predictions such as specific collaborative and competitive synergies of hemispheric bias that play out over the course of development, the nature of representations across the two hemispheres and the extent to which a single hemisphere, either left or right, might suffice for recognition. Last, I will lay out open questions which will, undoubtedly, occupy the field well into the future.
TALK 3: Children are the Future: The (Re)birth of Infant Cognitive Neuroscience
Nick Turk-Browne, Yale University
Until 2020, there were three fMRI studies in awake infants performing cognitive tasks. This stood in contrast to thousands of task-based fMRI studies in adults and older children over the preceding three decades. It was not for a lack of need or interest, as the field of infant cognition has long struggled (and still achieved great success) with overdetermined behavioral measures such as looking time. Neuroscientific methods have the potential to delineate multiple drivers of these simple behaviors and to record cognition incidentally with high-throughput, dynamic measures. Scalp EEG and fNIRS have made important contributions in this direction, but fMRI holds distinct advantages, including whole-brain coverage with access to deep-brain structures, spatial precision for revealing neural tuning and representations, and the possibility of building on notable advances in fMRI design, acquisition, and analysis from adult studies. In this talk, I will present the approach my lab has developed for awake infant fMRI and share some of our recent progress, including on retinotopic mapping, face perception, attentional cuing, statistical learning, and event segmentation. I will also highlight some of the big open questions that awake infant fMRI could address in principle, such as why infants are such proficient learners, why we all have amnesia for infant experiences, and how infants perceive and think about their environment. Despite countless limitations and challenges at present, this work suggests that awake infant fMRI could become feasible, useful, and ubiquitous in cognitive neuroscience.
TALK 4: The Promise of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Adriana Galvan, University of California, Los Angeles
From infancy, to middle childhood and through adolescence, dynamic changes in the brain interact with a changing social landscape to influence developmental processes. In recent years methodological advances in cognitive neuroscience have provided tools to examine the developing brain. What the field has learned is that bidirectional interactions between brain and environment have a significant impact on trajectories and outcomes. Importantly, these scientific insights have shed light on behaviors and conditions that are particularly unique to the developing child and adolescent, including mental health and digital media use. Collectively this developmental cognitive neuroscience research has also had an increasingly important role in informing policies and practices that impact young people.