Keynote speakers

Keynote addresses :

Daniel Wolpert (Computational and Biological Learning Lab, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge)

Probabilistic models of sensorimotor control and decision making

The effortless ease with which humans move our arms, our eyes, even our lips when we speak masks the true complexity of the control processes involved. This is evident when we try to build machines to perform human control tasks.  I will review our work on how humans learn to make skilled movements covering probabilistic models of learning, including Bayesian and structural learning as well as the role of context in activating motor memories. I will also review our work showing the intimate interactions between decision making and sensorimotor control processes This includes the bidirectional flow of information between elements of decision formations such as accumulated evidence and motor processes such as reflex gains. Taken together these studies show that probabilistic models play a fundamental role in human sensorimotor control.

Pieter Roelfsema (Netherlands Institute of Neurosciences, Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences)

Decision making and working memory in early visual cortex

Most theories hold that early visual cortex is responsible for the local analysis of simple features while cognitive processes take place in higher areas of the parietal and frontal cortex. However, these theories are not undisputed because there are findings that implicate early visual cortex in visualcognition in tasks where subjects reason about what they see.

I will discuss the contribution of early visual cortex to hierarchical decision-making and working memory. We used a hierarchical decision-makingtask to examine how monkeys solve a decision tree with stochastic sensory evidence at multiple branching points. We found a first parallel phase ofdecision making in areas V1 and V4. In this phase, multiple decision were considered at the same time. This was followed by an integration phase where the optimal overall strategy crystallized as the result of interactions between the local decisions.

 In the working memory task, we examined how visual information is maintained in the different layers of V1. When the monkeys memorized a stimulus, we found a profile of top-down inputs in the superficial layers and layer 5 causing an increase in the firing rates in feedback recipient layers. Avisual mask erased the V1 memory activity, but it then reappeared at a later point in time. These results provide new insights in the role of early visualcortex in the implementation of complex mental programs.

Heidi Johansen-Berg

Eric-Jan Wagenmakers (Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam)

The Crisis of Confidence in Psychological Science

In the past few years, psychological science has undergone a paradigmatic revolution. This revolution is the direct consequence of a “crisis of confidence”, the increasing realization that many published findings may be fiction rather than fact. The first part of this presentation provides some historical background and describes the defining events that have caused the revolution (“the straws that broke the camel’s back”). The middle part of this presentation discusses the current changes and initiatives that seek to promote openness and align the incentives for the field (“truth-finding”) with those for individual researchers (“publish, not perish”). The final part of this presentation outlines a vision for the future, illustrated with a hypothetical example: the perfect experiment.