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Quantitative Methods (QM) Colloquium Series with Joe Rodgers
November 30, 2015

Quantitative Methods (QM) Colloquium Series presents

Dr. Joe Rodgers, Psychology & Human Development, Vanderbilt University

Title: Statistical Cartoons that Teach

 Monday November 30, 2015

2-3:30 p.m. Hobbs 105

Clinical Brown Bag Series: Sandra F. Simmons
December 1, 2015

Sandra F. Simmons, Ph.D., General Internal Medicine and Public Health, Vanderbilt Medical Center

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015

12:10 p.m. Wilson Hall, Room 316


CCN Brown Bag Series: Duje Tadin
December 2, 2015

Duje Tadin, Brain/Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, River Campus

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015

12:05 p.m. Wilson Hall, Room 115

Suppressive neural mechanisms: from perception to intelligence

Perception operates on an immense amount of incoming information that greatly exceeds the brain's processing capacity. Because of this fundamental limitation, the ability to suppress irrelevant information is a key determinant of perceptual efficiency. Here, I will present a series of studies investigating suppressive mechanisms in visual motion processing, namely perceptual suppression of large, background-like motions. These spatial suppression mechanisms are adaptive, operating only when sensory inputs are sufficiently robust to guarantee visibility. Converging correlational and causal evidence links these behavioral results with inhibitory center-surround mechanisms, namely those in cortical area MT. 

What are functional roles of spatial suppression? Spatial suppression is weaker in old age and schizophrenia—as evident by paradoxically better-than-normal direction discriminations of large moving stimuli. Moreover, these subjects also exhibit deficits in figure-ground segregation, suggesting a functional connection. In recent studies, we report direct experimental evidence for a functional link between spatial suppression and figure-ground segregation

Finally, I will argue that the ability to suppress information is a fundamental neural process that applies not only to perception but also to cognition in general. Supporting this argument, we find that individual differences in spatial suppression of motion signals strongly predict individual variations in WAIS IQ scores (r = 0.71).


Neuroscience Brown Bag Series: Vivien Casagrande
December 3, 2015

Vivien Casagrande, Ph.D., Medical School, Vanderbilt Medical Center

Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015

12:10 p.m. Wilson Hall 316


Department of Psychology Colloquium Series: Lisa Feldman Barrett
December 3, 2015

Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D., Northeastern University

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

4:10 p.m.

Location : 126 Wilson Hall

Emotion inside out:  From cartoon neuroscience to the predictive brain

This talk will review theory and research to reveal the surprising ways in which the brain uses prediction to construct experiences and perceptions of emotion. Two themes will be covered: (1) the shift from typological thinking (an emotion has a particular facial expression and autonomic fingerprint) to population thinking (an emotion word names a population of unique instances tailored to the specifics of the immediate situation); (2) the shift from essentialism (all instances of an emotion category share an underlying neural circuit) to degeneracy (instances of an emotion category are constructed as different configurations within the brain’s functional architecture of interacting domain-general core networks).  These themes not only explain the nature of emotion, but they represent a shift in the scientific paradigm for mapping brain structure and function to mental categories. They dissolve the artificial boundaries between cognition, perception, emotion, and action, and between categorization, prediction, and memory, to unify the mind, providing new insights for understanding mental disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and even physical illness.

Department of Psychology Seminar (hosted by the Schall Lab)
December 4, 2015

Thomas Reppert

Laboratory for Computational Motor Control

Department of Biomedical Engineering 

Johns Hopkins University

Friday, 12/4/15

12;10 - 1:00pm

WH 316

Saccade vigor encodes subjective value of reward 

Until close to the end of the 20th century, saccade speed was considered strictly a function of movement size (the so-called “main sequence”).  More recent studies suggest that saccade vigor is not strictly dictated by amplitude.  Motivational factors such as reward also affect saccade vigor.  For instance, monkeys make faster saccades to targets promising juice reward than to non-rewarded targets.  Similarly, humans make faster saccades to faces than to visual noise.  We wanted to determine whether subjective value of reward, assessed during a temporal discounting task, affected saccade vigor.  We asked 60 volunteers to complete a standard temporal discounting task, in which they chose between a small reward to be delivered immediately, and a larger reward delivered after 30 days.  We manipulated the amounts of immediate and delayed reward offered over 120 trials, and estimated each subject’s discount rate.  While subjects completed the task, we monitored their eye movements with video-oculography.  It is important to note that subjects’ saccades did not affect trial outcome; saccades only served as a means of acquiring information about the rewards offered.  We found that, after subjects made their decision, within-trial saccade vigor dropped immediately by roughly 4%.  Among the saccades made just before and just after the decision, saccades to the preferred option were more vigorous than saccades to the non-preferred option.  The disparity between vigor of saccades to the two options became larger as the difference in the subjective values of the two options increased.  Therefore, during decision-making, the subjective value that the brain assigned to a stimulus influenced the vigor with which the eyes moved toward that stimulus.

Department of Psychology Professional Development Series
December 7, 2015

Department of Psychology Professional Development Series

Ashleigh M. Maxcey, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, Tennessee State University

How to get a faculty job and continue your research career at a liberal arts school

I got my PhD at an R01 school, like Vanderbilt, but have spent most of my faculty career teaching at a small liberal arts school. Getting a job at a liberal arts school requires sensitivity to different issues than getting industry, post-doctoral, or R01 faculty positions. I will discuss how to tailor your experience in graduate school with an eye on being a successful applicant at a liberal arts school. As a previous member of search committees for such faculty positions, I will share tips about issues specific to these jobs, such as unique attention to specific application materials and particular terms to use in your interview. I will also discuss how to spend your time once on faculty at a liberal arts school to position yourself to remain active in your field of research. The landscape of many liberal arts institutions is changing, with an eye on desiring faculty to be conducting research. This can be confusing because many institutions will grant tenure with no peer-reviewed publications and many faculty members at these institutions are not actively conducting research. Further, this can seem contrary to the job requirements, which involve a much higher teaching load than R01 institutions. I will discuss how continuing to conduct research, despite the possibility of becoming tenured without publishing, is beneficial for your career. I will also give suggestions on how to run a lab with a high teaching load. I look forward to answering your questions about any of these topics, so please come prepared for an interactive talk.

Monday, December 7 , 2015

12:00 p.m. 115 Wilson Hall

 For additional information, contact

Neuroscience Brown Bag Series: Juliane Krueger
December 10, 2015

Juliane Krueger, Ph.D., Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Vanderbilt School of Medicine

Thursday, December 10, 2015

12:10 p.m. Wilson Hall 316


Department of Psychology Colloquium Series: Alison Preston
January 13, 2016

Alison Preston, Ph.D., University of Texas

Title: Hippocampal-medial prefrontal contributions to knowledge acquisition and representation

"Everyday behaviors require a high degree of flexibility, in which prior knowledge is applied to inform behavior in new situations. Such flexibility is thought to be supported in part by memory integration, a process whereby related experiences become interconnected in the brain through recruitment of overlapping neuronal populations. In this talk, I will discuss our recent work demonstrating: 1) how memory integration relies on hippocampal–prefrontal (PFC) circuitry and 2) how integration allows for acquisition of new knowledge beyond what we directly experience. Specifically, I will show that hippocampal-PFC coupling during encoding of new events that overlap with existing knowledge reflects a memory-by-memory updating process. I will further show that hippocampal-PFC coupling during rest periods following memory updating evince continued restructuring of interrelated memories during offline periods. Moreover, I will discuss how hippocampal-PFC mediated integration supports novel decisions about the relationships among distinct memories. Finally, I will discuss how dynamic knowledge restructuring impacts the representation of individual memory elements within hippocampal and PFC subregions, resulting in integrated conceptual representations that reflect the similarities among events."


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