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IMC Tuesday Seminars 2022

IMC seminar 2022-12-13

Cognitive adverse effects of Parkinson’s disease (and its treatments)

Andreas Højlund, Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, Aarhus University

Abstract: Recently, we have seen an increased focus on the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) – and for a good reason. Be it psychiatric or cognitive adverse effects of PD (and its treatments), PD patients’ quality of life is heavily affected by not only the cardinal motor symptoms of slowness of movement, rigidity and tremor, but also by detrimental implications to their executive and linguistic functions (as well as depressive or apathic symptoms). In this talk, I will give an overview of some of the interesting projects we have run and are running in our group to tackle the challenge of characterizing and investigating these cognitive adverse effects of PD: e.g. decreased verbal fluency and response inhibition as an effect of both PD and treatment with deep brain stimulation (DBS), and the potential effects of PD on action language.


IMC seminar 2022-11-29

The dual meaning of movement coordination in interpersonal interactions

Julian Zubek, Human Interactivity and Language Lab, Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw

Abstract: In this talk I want to discuss the dual meaning of movement coordination occurring in interpersonal interactions. First, movement coordination patterns become part of a context in which the interaction takes place and may help to scaffold it. Second, coordinated movement is a sign of the dynamics of the ongoing interaction. These two processes – movement scaffolding interaction and movement being shaped in interaction – occur simultaneously and are an example of circular causality. To illustrate this point I will bring examples from three different studies. In the first study we compared movement coordination in face-to-face conversations and those occurring remotely using a video conferencing software. With the change of medium coordination patterns were radically altered, which possibly made the interaction more difficult to maintain. The second study concerned movement coordination in dyads engaged in a joint action task in which they had to recognise complex stimuli (samples of red wine). In natural interactions there was no significant relation between coordination and dyad performance, but when the interaction became structured through the introduction of external cultural artifact (a Sommelier card) movement coordination became a predictor of task performance. In the third study we investigated the dynamics of interactions in parent-child dyads and children's social development. We found that a large portion of individual differences in social-cognitive skills can be explained through observed patterns of movement coordination, interpreted both as a scaffolding for skill development and a manifestation of already attained skills.


IMC seminar 2022-11-22

Expression and perception of decisions in movement patterns

Ida Selbing, Division of Psychology, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and the Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University

Abstract: Decisions are not necessarily easy to separate into a planning and an execution phase and the decision-making process can often be reflected in the movement associated with the decision. Since knowledge of the decision-making process or beliefs that underlie other individual’s decisions can be relevant in social interactions we have set out to study how relevant processes are expressed in movement patterns, and how these movement patterns are perceived by an observer. In this talk I will focus on the first part of this project, where we have investigated the expression of decision-making processes in spatiotemporal features of simple mouse-tracking paths using formalized definitions of concepts relevant to decision-making and social interactions. I will also discuss the second part, where we aim to investigate how decision related movement patterns are perceived by an observer.


IMC seminar 2022-11-08

Addiction: Beyond the individual

Vibeke Asmussen Frank, Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences - Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, Aarhus University

Abstract: Addiction has in general been characterized by individuals’ experience of loss of control over certain forms of behaviors (such as consumption of alcohol or drugs, gaming, or shopping) and manifested as intense craving. Most theories of addiction atomize the individual from social relationships and wider social and cultural contexts. In this talk, I will go beyond the individual and explore how social relationships, institutional contexts and society at large affects addictive behaviors. Using examples from my own research on illegal substance use, I will discuss how problems, harms and addiction related to illegal substance use is contextual and not solely embedded in the use of a particular substance. How institutional contexts, such as drug use treatment, shape the possibilities for individuals to recover from addiction. And lastly how policies on illegal substances affect the understanding of addiction. 


IMC seminar 2022-11-01

The intersubjective dimension of skills: The case of couple-based expertise in aikido practice

Susanne Ravn, professor and Head of the research unit Movement, Culture and Society (MoCS), University of Southern Denmark.

Abstract: Couple-based activities, like for example couple dancing and martial art practices, offer a unique window for investigating intersubjective dimensions of practices and skills. In this presentation I turn to the case of aikido, to contribute understandings of how skills are incorporated and developed. Based on a critical auto-ethnographical approach, I firstly focus on the enabling and constraining structures that constitute the ecological environment of aikido, especially how these structures are part of a network of apprenticeship learning closely connected to a Japanese cultural heritage of martial art practices. On that basis I engage a phenomenological analysis of the interactional dynamics between the two practicing together to understand how the enculturated kind of meaning-making, expressed in the doxa of aikido, enables and constrains the specialised kind of participatory sense-making (De Jaegher & Di Paolo 2007) unfolding in the couple-based interaction. I specify how the sense of movement extends to include the other and especially, how this extended sense of movement is exercised strategically by the experienced other. Accordingly, the analysis contributes enculturated as well as agential aspects to phenomenological descriptions of participatory sensemaking.


IMC seminar 2022-10-25

Language as a fingerprint: modeling individual traits using large language models

Roberta Rocca, Postdoctoral Researcher, Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University

Abstract: Modern natural language processing techniques can be used to extract compact and transferable representations of text and audio at multiple levels of granularity. In this talk, I will present three studies using NLP methods to model individual traits for cognitive and social science applications. The first study explores applications of both traditional ML methods and more advanced text and audio encoding techniques in language-based inference of clinical conditions. The second study focuses on developing self-supervised methods to extract transferable author representations from text. The third study explores social science applications of text modeling techniques, especially focusing on the use of language models for text-based measurement of political identity.


IMC seminar 2022-10-04

Us and Them

Uta Frith, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

Chris Frith, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology, Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, UCL and Honorary Research Fellow, Institute of Philosophy, University of London

Abstract: Most animals recognise the members of their group by familiarity and ‘like-me’ similarity. From early on in life, humans automatically classify strangers as outgroup members if they look different, have a different dialect, or sing different songs. Like other social animals, humans show a preference to learn from members of their ingroup and strive to be like them. Thus, our behaviour is affected by the behaviour of members of our own ingroup rather than by members of an outgroup. 

‘Minimal group’ experiments show that ingroups and outgroups can be created on the spot and in an arbitrary fashion. Ingroups thrive by enhancing their distinction from outgroups. Our identification with our own group goes hand in hand with differentiation from others. This is supported by the mechanism of over-imitation, a behaviour that seems unique to humans and is foundational of the use of customs and rituals that look irrational to outsiders. Ingroups tend to be persistent. One reason is that we have a strong drive to be affiliated coupled with fear of exclusion. If we are excluded, unconscious mimicry acts as a means of appeasement and allows us to gain readmission to the group. Support for the ingroup goes together with hostility to outgroups. Outgroups are perceived as competitors and this competition enhances ingroup altruism as well as outgroup hostility. Hence, one of the evolutionary advantages for groups is that we work best together when we compete with an outgroup.


IMC seminar 2022-09-06

CollaboLearn: Understanding, developing and co-creating social leaning with autistic children & their educators

Ella Paldam, Postdoctoral Fellow, Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University

Abstract: How can we develop play-based social learning environments that – truly – invite autistic children to engage on their own terms? The CollaboLearn project began from a shared interest in exploring this question between researchers at the IMC and educators at Langagerskolen, a large public school for autistic children in Aarhus. This partnership made it possible to do research on autistic social play at the same time as developing co-creative learning environments with the children. I take the talk as an opportunity to reflect on the project as it unfolded through different phases by focusing on: 1) research findings and their implications, 2) learning resources and their implementation, and 3) projects designs and their potential for collaboration.


IMC seminar 2022-08-30

CREA: scalable AI-enhanced games for fostering and assessing creativity

Janet Rafner, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, Aarhus University; Center for Hybrid Intelligence, Department of Management, Aarhus University

Abstract: In this talk I will present a subset of the work from my PhD dissertation which addresses human-AI interaction for fostering and assessing creativity in game environments. I will then demo and present initial results from two creativity games that I have led the design of; these games utilize ML methods for both fostering and assessing creativity. In particular, both games are casual creators which leverage generative models to allow the general public to playfully create interesting, complex images, while contributing to research and participating in public dialogues on important topics such as the sustainable development goals. 

IMC seminar 2022-06-21

Electrochemistry in the conscious human brain

Dan Bang, Postdoctoral Fellow, Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, University College London (UCL)

Abstract: Disturbances in the brain’s major neuromodulators, such as dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline, represent an enormous mental health burden worldwide. Yet, our understanding of why these neurochemicals are crucial for mental health has been impeded by an inability to measure fast chemical changes in the human brain. High-precision methods for studying neuromodulators are available in animals, but these results can be hard to relate to the uniquely human experience of mental disorders. In this talk, I will present our recent work in which we perform electrochemical recordings of sub-second changes in dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline in the conscious human brain. This unique opportunity occurs in movement disorder patients who are undergoing implantation of a deep brain stimulating electrode or epilepsy patients who have had depth electrodes implanted for the localisation of epileptic foci. I will present our results on the roles of dopamine and serotonin in action regulation and sensory inference and the relationship between noradrenaline, pupil dilation and emotional states.


IMC seminar 2022-06-07

Investigating collective creativity

Kristian Tylén, Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics and IMC, Aarhus University

Abstract: Creativity is a fundamental yet ill understood cognitive phenomenon. While creativity is typically thought of as an individual process, it often unfolds in socially interactive settings where individuals jointly explore and manipulate their environment to discover novel, interesting and useful objects, solutions, or experiences. Inspired by for instance Hills et al. (2008), we can characterize the creative process as a search through a possibility space, relying on mechanisms similar to those observed in animal foraging behavior (Buchanan, 2008). This framework allows us to study how a creative process balance exploitation of more accessible local solutions and exploration of less accessible, but perhaps more original, distal solutions. In this talk, I discuss recent experimental and agent-based simulation work that seek to uncover how social interaction affects cognitive search and in particular the balance between exploiting and exploring the solution space. The findings suggest that a number of properties of social interaction (e.g. diversity and coordination) modulates how collective creative search unfolds and impact aspects of the creative solutions. 


IMC seminar 2022-05-31

Positivity bias and functional bifurcation in the psychological use of coronamusic during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020

Niels Chr. Hansen, Assistant Professor, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies & Center for Music in the Brain, Aarhus University

Abstract: During the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020, musical engagement became the potentially most frequent leisure activity, beating exercise, sleep, and consumption of other media as the most effective strategy for enhancing mental health for at least half of the general population. In this talk, I draw on recent results from the global MUSICOVID research network and a brand-new special issue on the topic to demonstrate how corona-themed music was created and consumed to cultivate collective connections and seek solitary solace (Howlin & Hansen, in press; Hansen, in press A). Our international survey study (n=5,113) (Fink et al., 2021) showed that interest in coronamusic emerged as the strongest predictor of successful coping via music. People experiencing negative affect used music for solitary emotion regulation whereas positive-experiencers used it as a proxy for social interaction. Follow-up qualitative and quantitative studies of coronamusic videos from our crowdsourced database (Hansen et al., 2021; Hansen, in press B), and social-media data from Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, and YouTube largely support this functional bifurcation in the psychological use of music for coping. The originally hypothesized positivity bias—i.e., the tendency for corona-themed music to be governed by positive sentiment and humour in contrast to the negative impact of the global health crisis—was present in one of these strands of pandemic musicking. The great prominence and coping potential of topically tailored musical repertoires and modes of expression suggest that throughout human prehistory, topical musical innovations—such as the coronamusics of 2020—may have served to build psychological resilience when faced with societal crisis.


IMC seminar 2022-05-17

Honestly hungry: Acute hunger does not increase unethical economic behaviour

Christian Truelsen Elbæk, PhD Fellow, Department of Management, Aarhus University

Abstract: Acute hunger leads to self-protective behaviour, where people keep resources to themselves. However, little is known about whether acute hunger influences individuals’ inclination to engage in unethical behaviour for direct monetary gains. Motivated by this, I will present a Registered Report, which investigates how acute physiological hunger influences cheating for monetary gains. In this project, integrating research on scarcity into the study of unethical economic behaviour, we predicted that acute hunger increases cheating for monetary gains and further that this effect is moderated by childhood socioeconomic status, trait self-control, and moral identity. We tested these predictions in a well-powered laboratory experiment where we manipulated acute physiological hunger as indexed by blood glucose levels and obtained a validated behavioural measure of cheating for direct monetary gains. Contrary to our predictions, our results show that acute physiological hunger as indexed by blood glucose levels does not increase (or decrease) the propensity to engage in unethical economic behaviour and that neither childhood socioeconomic status nor trait self-control or moral identity moderate this relationship. We argue that these findings advance scientific understanding of whether experiences of scarcity shape moral judgment and decision-making.


IMC seminar 2022-05-03

When no one is an expert - Mapping research funding outcomes during Covid-19 in Denmark

Emil Bargmann Madsen, postdoctoral researcher, Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, Aarhus University

Abstract: Data on the effects of COVID-19 on scientific publishing output suggest that female and younger researchers have been especially disrupted. Large-scale investigations of published articles show that women have accounted for fewer-than-anticipated authorships, and that the general gap in publication productivity between genders have increased. This discrepancy may be partly explained by the heavier teaching, service, and caregiving roles that women, early-career researchers, and other minorities typically face. 

Emerging evidence also suggests disproportionate negative effects of COVID-19 on funding applications and funding outcomes for women. The Canadian Institute for Health (CIHR) rapid response funding for COVID-19 research gave scientists just 8 days to submit their proposals. This funding call had a high success rate (44%), but 29% of applications were led by women, a drop of 7% from earlier funding rounds. Later calls, with extended submission deadlines, instead led to a doubling of successful applications from women.

The rapid need for increased funding in COVID-19 related research constitutes a special case, where large amounts of funding was allocated over very short time. How did this impact the distribution of funding in Denmark across different demographic groups, when some groups experienced more significant drops in uninterrupted time for work? In this project, we investigate (i) Who applied for and received research funding during the 2020 COVID-19 restrictions (March – Dec 2020) in Denmark? (ii) How do application and success rates for COVID-19 specific funding calls for men and women, and early versus later career researchers compare with regular (non-focused) funding calls in the same period? (iii) How do these rates compare with historical data patterns? Through a combination of automated web-scraping and surveys with successful grantees, we aim to illuminate how funding success differed across gender and career stage groups, if disparities interacted, and how these outcomes differed from “business as usual”.


IMC seminar 2022-03-08

Music as Skilled Action and Social Interaction

Peter Keller, Professor, Center for Music in the Brain, Aarhus University

Abstract: Collective music making showcases the remarkable human capacity for precise yet flexible interpersonal coordination. I will present the results of studies investigating the behavioural and brain bases of this ability using controlled laboratory paradigms and naturalistic musical tasks, as well as related computational modelling, neuroimaging, and brain stimulation approaches. Findings are informative about links between basic sensory-motor mechanisms that enable co-performers to anticipate and adapt to each other’s actions, aspects of personality including empathy, and social-cognitive processes that regulate the balance between psychological representations of ‘self’ and ‘other’. 


IMC seminar 2022-02-22

Affective Player Experience of Fear (APEX of Fear): Enhancing User Experience of Horror through Affective Computing

Thomas Terkildsen, Recreational Fear Lab, Aarhus University

Abstract: What if you could step into a horror simulation that adapted to your individual fears and feelings – a virtual world of pleasurable terror tailor-made just for you? Maybe that sounds like science fiction, but this is exactly what the team behind the APEX of Fear project is currently developing. In this lecture, the Principal Investigator Thomas Terkildsen will take us through the state-of-the-art technology underlying this next generation of horror media.


IMC seminar 2022-02-08

Play at work: Using game design to increase outcomes in school and work environment

Tomáš Kratochvíl, PhD student, Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic

Abstract: The use of game design in serious context (i.e., gamification) has been used to tackle various obstacles and increase outcomes in recent years. In my ongoing research, I have examined gamification effect on various types of performance while taking work attitudes such as work engagement and job satisfaction into account. I hypothesized that various types of gamified design have different effects on these three outcomes. In my recent work, I have found out that redesigning work with achievement-based (i.e., challenges and rewards) or socialization-based (i.e., cooperative vs. competitive) gamification may lead to a difference in these outcomes in a short-term task when comparing to a control condition. In this talk, I will discuss the evidence supporting these findings, their implications, and possible future venues.