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Seminars 2017-2018

Understanding individual differences in psychiatry – genetics versus environmental influences
November 21, 2017

Date: November 21, 2017 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Dr Cathy Fernandes, BSc PhD PGCAP
Senior Lecturer in Preclinical Models of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre &
Divisional Education Lead, Psychology and Systems Sciences Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King's College London
Affiliation: King's College London
Title:

Understanding individual differences in psychiatry – genetics versus environmental influences

  One of the oldest arguments in psychology is whether our behaviour is a product of inherited, genetic factors (nature) or due to acquired life experiences (nurture)? Exciting research is now focused on how genes shape our behaviour, and how nature and nurture contribute to the development of psychiatric disorders. In this seminar, I will give an overview of the most recent, world‐leading research in this field. I will also discuss the various opportunities to study this area of psychology at King’s College London in the UK, and what career opportunities are available after graduating.
About the Speaker:

Dr Cathy Fernandes originally trained as a psychopharmacologist at King’s College London working in the research field of anxiety and drug dependence. She currently heads the ‘Preclinical Models of Neurodevelopmental Disorders’ group at the SGDP Centre (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London) investigating the contribution of genetic and environmental mechanisms to a range of neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders. In addition to studying the role of genes in behaviour, she also has a particular interest in the interaction of genes with early life stressful environments and drug exposure.
Dr. Fernandes has more than 20 years of learning and teaching experience at King’s College London, first as a student and then as a teacher. My teaching ranges from undergraduate to postgraduate to specialist courses.

The Social Construction of Adolescence: Insights from the United States and China
November 7, 2017

Date: November 7, 2017 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Eva Pomerantz, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign
Title:

The Social Construction of Adolescence: Insights from the United States and China

  The research I will present focuses on the idea that how youth navigate adolescence is shaped in part by their views of teens, which often reflect cultural constructions of adolescence. The first set of studies I will discuss indicates that American and Chinese youth take different pathways (e.g., in terms of their engagement in school) through early adolescence. The second set of studies suggests that one reason for the different pathways is that culture influences youth’s conceptions of adolescence, with Western culture leading youth to see this phase more as a time of “storm and stress”. The third set of studies explores the role of youth’s views of teens in their development during adolescence in more depth, with attention to whether changing such views influences their behavior.
About the Speaker:

Eva Pomerantz received her PhD from the Department of Psychology at New York University. Since then, she has been a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Pomerantz’s research focuses on how to motivate youth in school to facilitate their learning, particularly as youth navigate adolescence. Although Dr. Pomerantz has spent much of her career studying this issue in the United States, she has also studied it in China where youth’s achievement is higher than that of their American counterparts. Dr. Pomerantz has published over 75 papers in scholarly journals and edited volumes. Her research has been featured in multiple media outlets as well. Dr. Pomerantz has been an Editorial Consultant for the journals Child Development and Developmental Psychology. She also served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. She has also been a member of American grant reviewing panels (for example, at the National Science Foundation).

Future Orientation: Temporal Correlates, Genetic Mechanisms, and their Implications for Health Behaviors and Depression
October 10, 2017

Date: October 10, 2017 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Yiqun Gan, Ph.D.
Professor
Affiliation: School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Peking University
Title:

Future Orientation: Temporal Correlates, Genetic Mechanisms, and their Implications for Health Behaviors and Depression

  Future orientation refers to the extent to which an individual thinks about the future, anticipates future consequences, and plans before acting. In this presentation, we aim to broaden our understanding of future orientation in terms of four aspects: (1) We investigated the relationship between future orientation and time perception through three paradigms, namely experimental discounting, task prioritization, and the temporal Doppler effect. We found that future orientation involves underestimating future temporal distance and accurately perceiving the importance of future events. (2) We explored the role of future orientation in dietary behaviors and preventing air pollution, and identified planning as a key mediator in health behavioral change. (3) We found evidence for future orientation in buffering the kindling effect of depression and its emotional regulation function, using longitudinal and laboratory studies. Further, based on these findings, a low‐intensity intervention program, Positive Future Imagery Modification, was developed, and a randomized control trial study confirmed its effectiveness in treating mild depression. (4) We examined the interactions of the FKPB5/COMT Val158Met polymorphism and stress (early stressful life events, experimental prime) on the development and manifestation of future orientation. We demonstrated that the TT genotype in FKBP5 was associated with higher levels of future orientation in a positive environment, whereas the Met/Met genotype in COMT Val158Met was associated with higher levels of future orientation in more adverse conditions.
About the Speaker:

Yiqun Gan is a professor at School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Peking University, China. She has received her Ph.D. in the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1998. She has published over 90 research papers as the first or corresponding author, and her findings were published in the top international journals such as Journal of Personality and Health Psychology. She has been the PI of a number of research projects funded by the National Science Foundation of China. She was invited to a present as a Transversal Keynote Speaker at the International Congress of Applied Psychology in 2014, and to convene an Invited Symposium at the International Congress of Psychology in 2012 and at the International Congress of Applied Psychology in 2018. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology and as an editorial board member for Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being and Stress and Health. Her research on future orientation and resilience has embraced numerous state-of-the-art techniques such as laboratory experiments, molecular genetics, physiological indexes, eye tracking, and ERP, which has placed her work on the cutting edge of the science. She has won the title of “Recognized Psychologist” by the Chinese Psychological Society in 2016, and was nominated as a fellow of the International Association of Applied Psychology in 2017.

Applied Decision (Neuro)science: Culture, Beauty and Architecture
October 9, 2017

Date: October 9, 2017 (Monday)
Time: 12:00-13:00
Venue: Rm 109, Chen Kou Bun Building
Speaker: George Christopoulos, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Nanyang Business School, NTU, Singapore
Research Director, Culture Science Institute, NTU
Fellow, Asian Consumers Insights Institute
Principal Investigator, Future Resilient Systems, ETH Zurich
Affiliated Scholar, VT Carilion Research Institute
Title:

Applied Decision (Neuro)science: Culture, Beauty and Architecture

  We challenge the theoretical and methodological boundaries of decision sciences by expanding to atypical research domains. The first set of studies will examine an omnipresent but understudied choice phenomenon: how people decide for other people (called “allocentric”)– as opposed to deciding for themselves (“egocentric”). Our results show that culture drastically determines allocentric decision mechanisms. The second part explains how seemingly irrelevant social judgments impact perception of (facial) beauty ‐ and vice versa. The third part will present preliminary data of a set of qualitative, experimental and longitudinal studies of human attitudes and responses towards architectural characteristics of indoor working spaces. Throughout the presentation, some (relatively new) methodological tools will also be presented. Overall, this research underlines the importance of context for elucidating decision‐making mechanisms.
About the Speaker:

George Christopoulos is a Decision Neuroscientist (University of Cambridge; postdoc at Cambridge, Baylor College of Medicine and Virginia Tech) with extensive research experience in neurobehavioral accounts of human behavior. He is Assistant Professor at Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and Research Director of the Culture Science Institute.
A series of studies identified the neural correlates underlying risk attitudes (PNAS, 2009; Journal of Neuroscience, 2009, 2010), while more recent studies employed neuro-computational approaches to understand the neurobehavioral and cultural accounts of aspects of social decision making - such as cooperation, competition, beauty / aesthetics and social influence (Nature Neuroscience, 2015, Neuroimage 2015). A new research stream explores the effects of the development of Mega-Cities and urbanicity on human behaviour, mental health and performance.
Methodologically, he adopts a rich, multi-disciplinary approach combining different methods including (i) lab-based methods (behavioral game theory) (ii) cognitive neuroscience (fMRI, eye-tracking and electrodermal responses) (iii) computational approaches (iv) field studies with real-world applications while exploring new methods (wearable devices and virtual reality).
His lab has received well over $1.1M in external funding from both government and industry. This research has been showcased in various media, including the French TV and Channel News Asia; finally, he has been consulting major companies in Singapore and overseas.

The Effects of Prior Familiarity on Working Memory Representations and Processes
September 22, 2017

Date: September 22, 2017 (Fri)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Weiwei Zhang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Affiliation: University of California, Riverside
Title:

The Effects of Prior Familiarity on Working Memory Representations and Processes

  Prior stimulus familiarity can influence visual working memory (VWM) representations and processes in various ways based on some recent behavioral and Event‐Related Potential findings. First, VWM representations for familiar stimulus can be accessed faster than unfamiliar stimulus. Second, this speed advantage can also manifest to VWM consolidation in that familiar stimulus is encoded into VWM faster than unfamiliar stimulus. Third, faster VWM consolidation for familiar stimulus could in turn lead to increases in the amount of information retained in VWM when VWM consolidation is interrupted, but not when encoding time is sufficient. Consequently the presence and absence of the consolidation effect could potentially account for the mixed findings on the capacity effects of familiarity in the literature. These findings have illustrated various sources for the facilitation of working memory by familiarity and highlighted the pivotal roles of VWM processing in the interactions between prior knowledge and moment‐by‐moment memory processing.
About the Speaker:

Dr. Zhang received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Iowa. He joined faculty at the Department of Psychology at University of California, Riverside in 2012. The research program in Dr. Zhang’s laboratory focuses on perception, memory, and higher cognition using multiple Cognitive Neuroscience methods, including eye tracking, EEG, non-invasive brain stimulation, and fMRI.

Causes, Consequences, and Neural Correlates of Visual Awareness
September 20, 2017

Date: September 20, 2017 (Mon)
Time: 12:00-13:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Po‐Jang Hsieh, PhD.
Assistant Professor
Affiliation: Duke‐NUS Medical School, Singapore
Title:

Causes, Consequences, and Neural Correlates of Visual Awareness

  How conscious experience is realized in neuronal activity is one major unsolved problem in neuroscience. Brain scientists have focused on finding neural correlates of consciousness for over two decades. Here I go beyond this correlational paradigm and use multivariate pattern analysis to investigate the causal relationship between cortical activity and visual awareness. First, I examined the neural consequences of consciousness by asking whether the pattern of neural activity in visual cortex can be altered by a change in the interpretation of a constant visual input. Second, I examined the neural causes of consciousness by asking whether the contents of visual awareness during binocular rivalry can be biased/predicted by the neural activation pattern that immediately precedes binocular stimulus presentation. My results show that the pattern of neural activity in visual cortex not only reflects changes of subjects’ conscious interpretation of the stimulus, but also predicts subjects’ subsequent perceptual states during binocular rivalry. These findings go beyond mere correlates of consciousness to reveal candidates areas that are causally involved in realizing conscious experience.
About the Speaker:

Dr. Po-Jang (Brown) Hsieh received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience from Dartmouth College, USA in 2008, and was a research scientist at MIT until 2011. He is now an assistant professor at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore. He is interested in understanding how the human brain is able to perceive and experience the world. He studies the human neural bases of perception, attention, and consciousness with EEG, functional brain imaging (fMRI), neural decoding methods, and psychophysical techniques.

Eye Movements in Reading:Perceptual Span and Parafoveal Processing
September 18, 2017

Date: September 18, 2017 (Mon)
Time: 12:00-13:00
Venue: Rm 109, Chen Kou Bun Building
Speaker: Ming Yan, PhD.
Research Scientist
Affiliation: University of Potsdam
Title:

Eye Movements in Reading:Perceptual Span and Parafoveal Processing

  It is well established that the number of times we look at words (and the durations associated with these fixations) are reliable and valid indicators of the orchestration of visual, attentional, languagerelated, memory‐related, and oculomotor processes which lead to the recognition of words and the comprehension of text. Importantly, reading involves effective extraction of information not only from currently fixated foveal words but also from upcoming parafoveal words. During a single fixation the effective field of vision is quite narrow. Comparisons across different writing systems and across different individuals will be presented, concluding that the perceptual span can be flexibly modulated by various factors. Reading also involves automatic activation of lexical representations from foveal and parafoveal words. Which aspects of these words (orthographic, phonological, morphological, semantic, etc.) become available at what time during processing is an area of much theoretical controversy. Much of the theoretical debate has been driven by languagecomparative research, especially between the reading of unspaced logographic scripts like Chinese and spaced alphabetic scripts like English or German. Studies on phonological and semantic processing of parafoveal words during the reading of English, Chinese, German and Korean sentences will be presented and discussed. In Chinese, very early semantic preview effects have been consistently demonstrated, whereas phonological preview may be less effective. These results are in nice agreement with the logographic nature of the Chinese writing system and provide support for eye‐movement models that adopt the guidance by attentional gradient assumption.
About the Speaker:

Dr. Yan received his Ph.D from the Beijing Normal University in 2008. He then works as a research scientist at the University of Potsdam, Germany. His research area is eye-movement control during reading, focusing on how reading varies across different writing systems (Simplified and Traditional Chinese, German, English, Uyghur, Finnish, Korean etc.) and across different individuals (normal adults, typically developing readers, second-language learners of Chinese, deaf readers and dyslexic readers). His main research topics include (a) the influence of high-level linguistic factors on saccade generation, (b) lexical processing from foveal and parafoveal words, (c) perceptual span in reading and (d) reading behaviors of unskilled readers and impaired readers.

New Methodologies for Assessing Emotional Intelligence using Technologies
September 5, 2017

Date: September 5, 2017 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Edgar Bresó, PhD.
Associate professor
Affiliation: Universitat Jaume I de Castellon
Title:

New Methodologies for Assessing Emotional Intelligence using Technologies

  The main purpose of this talk is to test discuss about past and current methods for assessing Emotional Intelligence. Additionally, The statistical validity of the “Mobile Emotional Intelligence Test" (MEITPRO) will be showed. That is a test for assessing Emotional Intelligence using Smartphones and tablets. Regarding to tat last issue, data from more than 1,000 individuals from 4 different countries (Spain, United States, Germany, and Italy) were collected and analyzed for testing the reliability and validity of the scales (i.e., perception, understanding, and management of emotions). Additionally, several improvements were carried out in comparison with the classical papel‐pencil surveys for assessing EI (i.e., timeresponse control, dynamic pictures, etc.). Results showed acceptable values of reliability for this newly developed scale. Thus, this talk will highlight the reliability of a “Mobile survey” for assessing Emotional Intelligence. Implications for research and practice were discussed.
About the Speaker:

PhD. in work psychology and associate professor at Universitat Jaume I de Castellon. He is director of the “Emotionally Intelligent Organization” Research team and lecturer in subjects related to Emotions recognition, Emotional Intelligence and Communication. His areas of interests are mainly related to the assessment of Emotional Intelligence.

On the other hand, he is also consultant in organizations for selection and assessment processes. He has participated in 13 research projects and currently is the head (principal researcher) of two projects about Emotional Intelligence and Well-being. He collaborated for a year in the “Health, Emotion and Behavior Laboratory” in Yale University (USA) by the supervision of Peter Salovey and Mark Brackett where he developed and applied programs for enhancing emotional competences among employees and leaders. Additionally, is the CEO of Emotional Apps (www.emotional-apps.com) a company that applies technology to transform the existing scientific knowledge into applications by providing solutions for companies and universities.

In the last years, professor Bresó has published articles and papers in conferences regarding to Emotional perception and he is the author of the Mobile Emotional Intelligence Test (MEITPRO) that is a web application for assessing Emotional Intelligence using Computers, Smartphones and Tablets.