BIRC Talks

Virtual Talk: Danielle Bassett, University of Pennsylvania

Danielle S. Bassett, PhD

University of Pennsylvania

Science as Culture – PART ONE OF A TWO PART SERIES

Tuesday, May 19th from 12–1:15pm ET via Zoom

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Bio: Danielle S. Bassett is the J Peter Skirkanich Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, with affiliations in the Departments of Bioengineering, Physics & Astronomy, Electrical & Systems Engineering, Neurology, and Psychiatry. She is also an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. She is most well known for her work blending neural and systems engineering to identify fundamental mechanisms of cognition and disease in human brain networks. She received a B.S. in physics from Penn State University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge, UK as a Churchill Scholar, and as an NIH Health Sciences Scholar. She has received multiple prestigious awards, including American Psychological Association’s ‘Rising Star’ (2012), Alfred P Sloan Research Fellow (2014), MacArthur Fellow Genius Grant (2014), Early Academic Achievement Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (2015), Harvard Higher Education Leader (2015), Office of Naval Research Young Investigator (2015), National Science Foundation CAREER (2016), Popular Science Brilliant 10 (2016), Lagrange Prize in Complex Systems Science (2017), Erdos-Renyi Prize in Network Science (2018), AIMBE College of Fellows (2020). She is the author of more than 280 peer-reviewed publications, which have garnered over 21,000 citations, as well as numerous book chapters and teaching materials. She is the founding director of the Penn Network Visualization Program, a combined undergraduate art internship and K-12 outreach program bridging network science and the visual arts.

Abstract: Science is made by humans, and the progress of science is to some degree determined by the culture of scientists. How do we build scientific knowledge? How do the questions we ask change with time? How do we choose questions to ask? Here I will discuss a few of our recent studies in which we examine the titles, keywords, abstracts, and reference lists of neuroimaging papers to better understand the culture of our particular sector of science. We’ll touch on the evolving landscape of topics and the role of interdisciplinarity, before diving deeply into recent evidence of gender and racial disparities in whom we choose to cite in our papers. The work raises important questions about what kind of culture — along with its goals, values, and ethics — we might hope to create in the future.

Click here to see the full BIRC Speaker Series schedule and access recordings of past talks.

Virtual Talk: Nathan Spreng, McGill University

Nathan Spreng, PhD

McGill University

Explorations into the default network of the human brain

Tuesday, May 5th from 12–1:15pm ET via Zoom

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Bio: After receiving a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the psychology department at UCLA in 2006, Dr. Uddin completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Child Study Center at NYU. For several years she worked as a faculty member in Psychiatry & Behavioral Science at the Stanford School of Medicine. She joined the psychology department at the University of Miami in 2014. Within a cognitive neuroscience framework, Dr. Uddin’s research combines functional connectivity analyses of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data and structural connectivity analyses of diffusion tensor imaging data to examine the organization of large-scale brain networks supporting executive functions. Her current projects focus on understanding dynamic network interactions underlying cognitive inflexibility in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. Dr. Uddin’s work has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Cerebral Cortex, JAMA Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, PNAS, and Nature Reviews Neuroscience. She was awarded the Young Investigator award by the Organization for Human Brain Mapping in 2017.

Abstract: Executive control processes and flexible behaviors rely on the integrity of, and dynamic interactions between, several core large-scale brain networks. The right insular cortex is a critical component of a salience network that is thought to mediate interactions between brain networks involved in externally oriented and internally oriented processes. I will describe studies examining how brain network dynamics support flexible behaviors in typical and atypical development, presenting evidence suggesting a unique role for the dorsal anterior insular from studies of meta- analytic connectivity modeling, dynamic functional connectivity, and structural connectivity. These findings from adults, typically developing children, and children with autism suggest that structural and functional maturation of insular pathways is a critical component of the process by which human brain networks mature to support complex, flexible cognitive processes throughout the lifespan.

Click here to see the full BIRC Speaker Series schedule and access recordings of past talks.

Virtual Talk: Daniel Ansari, University of Western Ontario

Daniel Ansari, PhD

University of Western Ontario

Wednesday, April 1st from 1:00-2:15 pm EST via Zoom

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Humans share with animals the ability to process numerical quantities in non-symbolic formats (e.g., collections of objects). Unlike other species, however, over cultural history, humans have developed symbolic representations (such as number words and digits) to represent numerical quantities exactly and abstractly. These symbols and their semantic referents form the foundations for higher-level numerical and mathematical skills. It is commonly assumed that symbols for number acquire their meaning by being mapped onto the pre-existing, phylogenetically ancient system for the approximate representation of non-symbolic number over the course of learning and development. In this talk I will challenge this hypothesis for how numerical symbols acquire their meanings (“the symbol grounding problem”). To do so, I will present a series of behavioral and neuroimaging studies with both children and adults that demonstrate that symbolic and non-symbolic processing of number is dissociated at both the behavioral and brain levels of analysis. I will discuss the implications of these data for theories of the origins of numerical symbol processing and its breakdown in children with mathematical learning disorders, such as Developmental Dyscalculia.

Bio: Daniel Ansari received his PhD from University College London in 2003. Presently, Daniel Ansari is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology and the Brain & Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, where he heads the Numerical Cognition Laboratory ( Ansari and his team explore the developmental trajectory underlying both the typical and atypical development of numerical and mathematical skills, using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods.

Click here to see the full BIRC Speaker Series schedule and access recordings of past talks.