I have not been very good at blogging the conferences I’m attending. But I will try rectify this grave mistake in the future. Next weekend I am flying to Australia to attend the annual Human Brain Mapping conference, and I promise to write about it extensively. This year, the organizers have scheduled a session on “The relevance of Functional Neuroimaging to Psychology” so that, at least, promises to be engaging!
In the meantime check out this newspaper article about the neuroeconomics conference held in Copenhagen two weeks ago. (Sorry, the article is in Danish only!) I found the conference, with its unusual mix of marketing experts and neuroscientists, rather interesting. Among the highlights were a number of presentations of new fMRI studies from labs around the world, and a presentation by Graham Page, the director of Millward Brown’s innovation centre, who gave a highly informative talk about how much neuroscience techniques is actually employed by marketing agencies pendling their dark arts. The answer is: both more and less than you would imagine!
The picture shows Thomas lecturing at the conference on imaging genetics as a possible new methodological avenue for neuroeconomics research. Yes, he really looks that way!
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Feel free to attend this meeting:
Kunst og hjerne
Vil neurobiologien blive det nye paradigme for forståelsen af, hvad kunst er?
Et af æstetikkens vanskeligste problemer er kunstnerisk kreativitet. Man kan forestille sig, at dette problem kunne belyses ved et aktivt samarbejde mellem hjerneforskere og kunstnere.
Sigtet med dette seminar er at føre kunstnere og neuroæstetikere sammen til en diskussion af konsekvenserne af de senere års forskning i hjernens funktioner. Hvilken rolle spiller centrale neurale processer som perception, hukommelse og følelser for kunstnerens skabende proces?
I 1990’erne havde den postmoderne filosofi en enorm indflydelse på kunstnernes konkrete praksis.
Vil neuroæstetikken kunne få en lignende indflydelse?
Tid: 23. april 2008 kl. 10.00-16.00
Sted: Lokale 22.0.11, Københavns Universitet Amager
Hvad kunstneren kan lære hjerneforskeren – og omvendt
Martin Skov, MR-Afdelingen, Hvidovre Hospital
Verden forklaret for børn
Peter Holst Henckel, billedkunstner
Det litterære dyr. Om Darwin og litteraturteori
Jesper Egholm, Institut for Litteraturhistorie, Aarhus Universitet
Den følsomme fibers frihed. Fysiologi, æstetik og politik hos Denis Diderot
Anne Fastrup, Institut for Kunst og Kultur, Københavns Universitet
Er bevidstheden en fejl, evolutionen har begået? En synapsesnaps til det andet ben
Morten Søndergaard, digter
Om evolutionsæstetik og hjernens fylogenese
Jon O. Lauring, Institut for Kunst og Kultur, Københavns Universitet
Peter Døssing & Aslak Vibæk, billedkunstnere
Opsamling og diskussion
Admission free! Registration not necessary.
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A unique opportunity to learn about contemporary neuroeconomics
We are writing to you in connection with the Conference on Neuroeconomics (ConNEcs 2008), which is going to take place at the Copenhagen Business School May 14-16, 2008. The conference is arranged by Center for Marketing Communication in cooperation with Hilke Plassmann (CalTech, US) and Peter Kenning (Zeppelin University, Germany).
The primary goal of the conference is to establish an international discussion forum for research on Neuroeconomics. Also the conference aims to look into how decision neuroscience can inform consumer and business research, and to illuminate how consumer behaviour is represented in the brain. We expect 150 participants comprising international researchers as well as various organisations and industries.
This unique conference gives you the opportunity to meet members of the most advanced, international research community working with neuromarketing, neuroeconomics and decision neuroscience research.
At CBS we are developing a Decision neuroscience project in corporation with Hvidovre Hospital. At the conference you will also learn about this research.
We recommend you to sign up for the conference.
Attached you will find a more detailed description of the conference including the conference program and registration form. You are also more than welcome to contact us for further information.
We look forward to hearing from you and please feel free to distribute the programme to interested parties.
ConNEcs 2008 Organizing Committee:
- Flemming Hansen,
- Peter Kenning,
- Hilke Plassmann and
- Majken L. Møller
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In May 15-16 this year, the Copenhagen Business School arranges a conference on neuroeconomics. According to the mission statement, the idea is to “provide an international discussion forum for research in the intersection of the psychology and neuroscience of decision-making and to set a stage for the presentation of recent contributions.”
I will give a talk entitled “Three new directions for neuroeconomic research”. The abstract is below. I can see form the other abstracts and talks that the contributions are most interesting, and there are many results that I expect will make it to the neuroscience journals in the foreseeable future.
So if you are interested in neuroeconomics, the neuroscience of decision making, and the relationship between brands, emotions and consumer behaviour, this is definitely the place to go this year.
Three new directions for neuroeconomic research
Cognitive neuroscience has recently contributed significantly to the improvement of models in microeconomy and consumer behaviour research. We here suggest that three recent development in cognitive neuroscience may lead to new and exciting fields of enquiry in neuroeconomic research. First, imaging genetics has provided detailed insight into how genes influence emotional responses and decision making in the brain. Second, studies of healthy ageing suggest that emotions and cognitive processes change with age. Finally, single-subject neuroimaging studies may provide new tools for finding neuronal markers for parameters relevant to consumer behaviour research, including emotional responses, preference formation and decision making.
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Back in February, BBC ran a story about fMRI researchers – shock, horror! – now being able to read people’s minds. In actual fact, the story was a bit more benign. Using a fairly new (and little used) type of fMRI analysis called “multivariate analysis” researchers such as Geraint Rees and John-Dylan Haynes are presently attempting to associate individual mental states with specific patterns of BOLD signal activity. If the mental states of interest can be precisely delineated it is possible to determine if a subject is “in” mental state A or B just from looking at the scanned fMRI data. For instance, in one experiment, described in the BBC story, subjects were asked to either subtract or add numbers shown on a screen without telling the experimenters which of the two potential choices they actually went with. Just by looking at the obtained scans Haynes and his colleagues were able to infer, in 70 % of the cases, whether the subject chose to add or substract – thus, to some degree, being able to “read” the subjects’ hidden intentions. Of course, in reality, the experimenters’ mind reading ability was extremely limited, being focused on only two, highly simple, forced choices. (If you want to read a good presentation of the mind reading possibilities offered by multivariate analysis, see this paper by Rees and Haynes.)
Yet, with all the recent talk about fMRI lie detection and what have you, work such as Haynes and Rees’ on multivariate analysis raises a number of interesting neuroethical questions. On May 9, Haynes is convening a bunch of top-notch speakers to discuss these questions, including Daniel Langleben (of fMRI lie detection fame), Adrian Owen, Henrik Walther, and Thomas Metzinger. He presents the colloquium with the following words:
Every thought is associated with a characteristic pattern of activation in the brain. By training a computer to recognize these patterns, it becomes possible to read a person’s thoughts from patterns of their cerebral activity. In this way a person’s brain activity can betray their thoughts and emotions, can gives clues whether they are lying, or can even predict what they are about to do.
This recent progress in brain science has made completely new insights into thought processes possible. We can now investigate how thoughts are stored in the brain, or how intentions unconsciously arise and affect our behavior. But these findings are not just of interest for the scientific disciplines involved. They have important implications for our understanding of human nature. Also, they lay foundations for important applications: For example, with the help of a “brain computer interfaces”, paralysed patients can control technical devices solely “with the power of their thoughts”.
In the 11th Berlin Colloquium, brain scientists from the USA, Canada and Europe will present this new field of “brain-reading”, while at the same time providing a forum for discussion on the future perspectives of these methods. In particular, the ethical question will be of interest, to which extent such “thought technology” is compatible with “mental privacy”.
It should be well worth your time going.
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Posted in conference on February 18, 2007|
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I’ve just been alerted to the fact that the University of Oslo in Norway will play host to a conference on “Neuroethics and Empirical Moral Psychology” from March 14 to March 16. See more here. It looks pretty interesting (and free of charge). Among the speakers are John Bickle, Shaun Nichols and Stephen Morse. John Bickle is well known as a hardcore reductionist (he makes the Churchlands look like dualists). Stephen Morse has written several papers arguing that neuroscience should have no impact on our conception of legal responsibility. Putting Bickle and Morse in the same room should make for lots of fun!
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It’s really a slow digestion period, getting back from SfN in Atlanta. Other than an aching back and jet-lag the conference experience has been tremendous. But at the same time it was rather confusing. Those talks and lectures that I expected to be good turned out to be boring or far too complex (or ill presented) to comprehend. Other talks — IMO wildcards relative to my own area — were tremendously informative.
It strikes me that this year didn’t have one or more major themes that were dominating the discussion and themes as such. This very much as we’ve seen in previous conferences, and at other conferences, where topics such as e.g. stem cell research (SfN) or brain development or imaging genetics (Human Brain Mapping) was on everybody’s lips. So while I sit here back home and reflect on some highlights — other than those very technical aspects that I myself found interesting — a few come to mind.
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