Neuroscience of Emotions Advanced Course

Neuroscience of Emotions Adv Course

Venue: Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown

Hosts: Lorenza Calcaterra, Jovin Jacobs, António Dias (Champalimaud)


Dr. Valeria Gazzola– works on the neural basis of empathy and its dysfunction in humans and rodents (rats)
Dr. Kurt Gray– works on the theory of mind/mind perception (what entities, humans, animals, robots etc are seen to have minds) and its implications for morality
Prof. Peter Lang– studies brain (using EEG, fMRI in humans) and bodily reactions (autonomic and somatic reflexes) as they are modulated in attention, perception, and memory imagery. He is also involved in translation research to advance diagnosis and treatment of anxiety spectrum and mood disorders.
Dr. Kristen Lindquist– studies the psychological and neural processes underlying the experience of emotions in humans using neuroimaging (fMRI) and EEG.
Marta Moita – Moita’s lab studies social behaviour in rats and flies, focusing on the modulation of defense behaviours by the social environment and mechanisms of cooperation.

From artists, to writers, to philosophers, to scientists, to experts and dilettantes alike, our species as a whole has sought to understand the nature of emotions for centuries. The reason for this is multifaceted and includes the intrinsically curious nature of our kind and the fact that the experience of emotions is one of the most familiar phenomenon to us. Despite its familiarity and our efforts, a holistic understanding of emotional experiences has thus far eluded us. Coupled with the subjective nature of these experiences, the process of generalizing beyond ourselves, much more our species, is a non-trivial task. As such, a periscope that maximizes both clarity and depth is essential.

Current techniques available in Neuroscience allow for sub-second recording and manipulation of neurons in a spatially and cell-type specific manner. Thus Neuroscience can be said to have come of age on a technical level and presents itself as an ideal candidate to play the role of this periscope. However, to complement the powerful techniques available in Neuroscience, principled conceptual and methodological approaches are needed.

It is against this background that we have chosen to organize an advanced course on the Neuroscience of Emotions. The course is aimed at addressing three fundamental issues with the hope of providing firm conceptual and methodological grounding to help us unravel the mysteries of emotion processing in the brain. These issues are:

1) What features are necessary (and sufficient) for an internal state to be considered an emotion?

2) Given that internal states in non-human animals require inference from language independent variables, to what degree can we conclude that non-human animals possess emotions?

3) Approaches to mapping neural circuits underlying emotion processing in humans and non-human animals and how to maximize synergism between the two research communities.

Distinguished speakers with expertise in the field will give presentations of their work, which will help guide the discussion of these questions.  All the aforementioned questions and much more will be up for discussion between the 18th and 20th of May 2016 at the Champalimaud Foundation.

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