BIRC Speakers Series and Seminars


Meet with speakers: Please contact us if you are interested in meeting with a speaker.

Upcoming ’23—’24 Speakers

Please check back for updates

March 28 — Ping Li, PhD: Naturalistic Reading Comprehension in L1 and L2: What can “model-brain alignment” tell us about its neurocognitive mechanisms

Naturalistic Reading Comprehension in L1 and L2: What can “model-brain alignment” tell us about its neurocognitive mechanisms

Ping Li, PhD
Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Thursday, March 28th 2024
9:00AM-10:30AM ET
In-person watch party  Arjona 339

Please register here. *Note that you must register to obtain the Zoom meeting details. Please use your University email address

With the rapid developments in generative AI and large language models (LLMs), researchers are assessing the impacts that these developments bring to various domains of scientific studies. In this talk, I describe the “model-brain alignment” approach that leverages the progress in LLMs. Along with recent proposals on shared computational principles in humans and machines for naturalistic comprehension (e.g., listening to stories, watching movies), we use model-brain alignment to study naturalistic reading comprehension in both native (L1) and non-native (L2) languages. By training LLM-based encoding models on brain responses to text reading, we can evaluate (a) what computational properties in the model are important to reflect human brain mechanisms in language comprehension, and (b) what model variations best reflect human individual differences during reading comprehension. 

Past ’22—’23 Speakers and Recordings

April 27 — Michael Crowley PhD: Risk avoidance in youth

Risk avoidance in youth

Michael Crowley PhD
Yale Child Study Center

Thursday, April 27th 2023
2:00 pm ET
In-person Oak Hall 408

Please register here.

Adolescence is a period of heightened risk-taking. Our field has focused heavily on understanding adolescent risk-taking behavior –yet, a sizeable proportion of adolescents may tend to avoid risks in some contexts. This talk will discuss ongoing programmatic research on risk avoidance in youth. Using computational modeling, high density EEG and fMRI, Dr. Crowley will discuss his current work examining the brain and behavior correlates of risk avoidance with links to substance use and anxiety.

Mar 30 — Michael Thomas, DPhil: The role of functional and structural brain imaging in educational neuroscience 

The role of functional and structural brain imaging in educational neuroscience 

Michael Thomas DPhil
Director, Centre for Educational Neuroscience
Birkbeck, University of London

Thursday, March 30th 2023
2:00 pm ET
Virtual talk on WebEx and YouTube Live

Recording

The field of educational neuroscience (or mind brain and education) was effectively launched by advances in in vivo brain imaging in the 1990s, driving the emergence of multi- and trans-disciplinary approaches to understanding mechanisms of learning. In this talk, I review how brain imaging is currently used and viewed in this inherently translational field. Approaches range from basic cognitive neuroscience of education-relevant abilities, to proposed diagnostic tools for neurodevelopmental conditions, to tests of cognitive models, to supporting construct validity, and to providing evidence for policy impact. These approaches are set in the context of contrasting views of educators to neuroscience (e.g., suspicion reflected in claims for the ‘seductive allure of neuroscience’; over-enthusiasm in the form of neuromyths; and resistance to reductionist accounts of learning). I will illustrate these arguments with examples from some of our work on developmental changes in intelligence, the brain basis of reading, and interventions to improve children’s learning of counter-intuitive concepts in math and science. 

Mar 3 — Franco Pestilli PhD: A public cloud platform to support neuroimaging research in the era of big data

A public cloud platform to support neuroimaging research in the era of big data

Franco Pestilli PhD
Department of Psychology
University of Texas, Austin

Friday, March 3rd 2023
4:00 — 5:00 pm ET
In-person Oak Hall 408

Registration

Over the past years, the neuroimaging field has benefited tremendously from an influx in large-scale data collection and sharing efforts that have made it easier to study humans at the scale of populations.  Advances in large-scale data-driven methods also address the major scientific need for rigor and reproducibility. However, the use of large datasets poses multiple new challenges for researchers. Traditionally, neuroimaging researchers have collected a few hours of neuroimaging data on a few dozens of subjects and analyzed it using laboratory computers and in-house data processing methods. Modern studies, by contrast, require the analysis of hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of data, with an accompanying move of data away from individual laboratory computers toward high-performance computing clusters and cloud systems. To help ensure the reproducibility and rigor of scientific results, the neuroimaging community has developed public archives for data deposition, data standards, and software libraries for data preprocessing and analysis.  I will present a public resource, brainlife.io, which provides integrative web services to help piece together data, software, and hardware in support of simplicity, efficiency, transparency, and equity in big data neuroscience research. The vision of brainlife.io is to become a global interoperable and integrative platform connecting the multiple communities of software developers, hardware providers, and domain scientists via cloud services and technology to support the next generation of breakthroughs in neuroscience.

 

Bio:

Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin. Dr. Pestilli joined the University of Texas in 2020. Prior to that, he was Associate Professor at Indiana University. Dr. Pestilli holds a Ph.D. from New York University and a B.A. from the University of Rome La Sapienza and received Postdoctoral Training at Stanford University and Columbia University.

Dr. Pestilli is the author of over 60 publications spanning multiple fields of science, such as Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, Vision, Neuroanatomy, Computer Science, and Neuroinformatics. Dr. Pestilli's scientific projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, the Department of Defense, the Association for Psychological Science, the Indiana University Emergent Areas of Research, Pervasive Technology Institute, and Microsoft Research.

Dr. Pestilli is elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and Psychonomics Society and has received a Microsoft Faculty Fellowship, the Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Achievements by the Association for Psychological Science as well as the Early Career Travel Award from the Japanese Neuroscience Society. He is an editorial board member for Scientific Data, and Scientific Reports. Dr. Pestilli is director of the Advanced Computational Neuroscience Network and founder and director of the open science platform brainlife.io.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Neuroscience and the Cognitive Science Program.

Feb 2 — Jessica Church-Lang PhD: The brain’s task control networks in youth and relations to academic performance

The brain's task control networks in youth and relations to academic performance

Jessica Church-Lang PhD
Department of Psychology
University of Texas at Austin

Thursday, February 2nd 2023
2:00 pm ET
Oak Hall 408 (virtual) and livestream

Recording

Academic success directly relates to career success and future earnings, while task control, often assessed as executive function, predicts academic success. The Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience lab at UT Austin studies how the brain’s putative task control networks relate to academic success and mental health in children and adolescents over time. For this talk, I will first review some of our work on the consistency of control network engagement across different tasks in youth. I will then touch on some studies of individual differences in control-related brain activity among struggling and non-struggling readers, including research with middle school English language learners, conducted through our participation in the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities (TCLD; texasldcenter.org)

Jan 19 — Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, EdD: Building meaning builds teens’ brains

Building meaning builds teens’ brains: Adolescents’ transcendent thinking predicts young adult psychosocial outcomes via neural development

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, EdD
Fahmy and Donna Attallah Chair in Humanistic Psychology
Director, USC Center for Affective Neuroscience, Development, Learning and Education
Professor of Education, Psychology & Neuroscience
Brain & Creativity Institute, USC Rossier School of Education

Thursday, January 19th 2023
2:00 pm ET
Oak Hall 408 (virtual) and livestream

Recording

A major achievement of adolescent development is the capacity to integrate abstract cognitive construals with affective experiences to construct meaningful, transcendent narratives about one’s self and the world—constructing identities and coming to feel strongly about complex social issues. Leveraging these capacities, adolescents can be among the most visionary and commited citizens, as the world has recently seen with such extraordinary youth as Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, and Emma González. In this talk, I will discuss our longitudinal, neuropsychological studies of the processes underlying such capacities with Los Angeles-area adolescents and young adults from diverse backgrounds. Findings from qualitative interviews paired with neuroimaging reveal coordinated psychological, behavioral and neural processes by which youth transcend concrete, empathic reactions to also experience values-driven emotions reliant on abstract thought, such as moral inspiration, curiosity and compassion. They further reveal dispositions toward abstract construals in social contexts that predict subsequent brain development irrespective of IQ and socio-economic status, and in turn young adult relationships and wellbeing. Findings underscore the active role adolescents play in their own brain development through the meaning they make of the social world. In addition, especially as our intervention studies demonstrate that abstract construals increase over time in supportive developmental contexts and mediate increases in life purpose, the work has implications for redesigning secondary schools and out-of-school programming to promote youth thriving.   

Nov 17 — Behavioral and neurophysiological evidence regarding the influence of oculomotor circuitry on auditory spatial tasks

Behavioral and neurophysiological evidence regarding the influence of oculomotor circuitry on auditory spatial tasks

Adrian KC Lee, ScD
Speech & Hearing Sciences
University of Washington

Thursday, November 17th 2022
2:00 pm ET
Oak Hall 408 (virtual) and livestream

Watch the recording here.

Spatial cues play an important role in segregating auditory objects in a complex acoustical scene. Spatial attention is often considered to be supramodal, e.g., crossmodal spatial cues can enhance the perception of stimuli in another modality when presented in the same location. Therefore, it is not surprising to find similarities between auditory and visual spatial attentional networks. An outstanding question, however, is how the supramodal spatial attention network functions if the listener attends instead to non-spatial acoustic features, e.g., pitch? In vision, the coupling between oculomotor circuitry and the attentional network is well studied. Are there behavioral consequences related to this tight oculomotor coupling in the context of auditory spatial tasks? We addressed these questions using three approaches. First, in a series of neuroimaging experiments using combined magneto- and electro-encephalography constrained by anatomical MRI data, we explored how different cortical regions are recruited for auditory spatial and non-spatial attention both during maintenance of attention to a single auditory stream and switching of attention between streams. Second, based on our newly developed sparse-plus-low-rank graphical approach that enables modelling of structured relationships between time series in a big data setting, we are starting work inferring functional connectivity between cortical regions to tease apart how different cortical nodes are coordinated to perform different auditory attentional tasks. Finally, we used psychophysical methods to address whether there are behavioral consequences related to this tight coupling between the oculomotor and attentional networks in the context of auditory spatial tasks.

Nov 3 — Leading Institutional Cultural Changes Using a Change Management Model: A DEI Example

Leading Institutional Cultural Changes Using a Change Management Model: A DEI Example

Adrian KC Lee, ScD
Speech & Hearing Sciences
University of Washington

Thursday, November 3rd 2022
2:00  pm ET
Oak Hall 408 (virtual) and livestream

Instilling cultural changes in an institution is an uphill battle. Some take up leadership positions at an institution in the hope of making lasting changes. Crafting a vision of change is obviously important, but often the execution of changes is stalled because the road ahead is too daunting. While change management is a well-studied discipline in the business world, we barely leverage this in academia. In this talk, we will introduce one specific change management model and discuss how well-defined steps could help us lead effective change in the academic enterprise, using a change in DEI culture as an example.

Past Speakers 2018-2022 and Recordings

Past Speakers 2018-2022

Date Speaker Title
Friday, May 20th

1:30-2:45 pm ET

Augusto Buchweitz, PhD

UConn

‘Leave them kids alone’: a brief history of building a brain imaging lab in Brazil and investigating children and adolescent early literacy and exposure to violence (flyer)
Friday, April 22nd

1:30-2:45 pm ET

 

Adrian Owen, PhD

University of Western Ontario

Into The Gray Zone: Assessing Residual Cognitive Function in Disorders of  Consciousness
Friday, February 18th

(Co-hosted by BIRC and IBACS)

John Hale, PhDUniversity of Georgia Grammar, Incrementality and fMRI Timecourse
Thursday, January 27th

Co-hosted SLAC Talk

Tracy Tokuhama-Espinosa, PhD

Harvard

Transdisciplinary, Translational, International Communication
Friday, January 21st

Speaker-Tag Series

Roy Hamilton, MD

UPenn

Stimulating Conversations: Employing Noninvasive Brain Stimulation Technologies to Characterize and Enhance Language Processing in Persons with Aphasia (flyer)
Friday, December 10th

Speaker-Tag Series

Jason Yeatman, PhD

Stanford

Neural Plasticity in Developmental Dyslexia (flyer)
Tuesday, November 26th

Speaker-Tag Series

Swathi Kiran, PhD

BU

Advances in predicting language recovery after stroke: Precision rehab
Tuesday, October 5th

Speaker-Tag Series

Alex Martin, PhD

NIH/NIMH

Object concept representation: The case of Food (flyer)
Tuesday, September 21st

Speaker-Tag Series

MariLu Gorno Tempini, MD, PhD

UC San Francisco

Language disorders across the life span (flyer)
Tuesday, June 8th

Speaker-Tag Series

Terry Jernigan, PhD

UC San Diego

Developmental Population Neuroscience and The ABCD Study (flyer)
Tuesday, May 18th

Speaker-Tag Series

Russell Poldrack, PhD

Stanford University

What's wrong with neuroimaging, and how can we make it right? (flyer)
Tuesday, April 20th

Speaker-Tag Series

Kalanit Grill-Spector, PhD

Stanford University

Human visual cortex as a window into the developing brain (flyer)
Tuesday, March 9th

Speaker-Tag Series

Ido Davidesco, PhD

UConn - Neag School of Educaiton

Brain-to-Brain Synchrony in the Classroom

(flyer)

February 23rd 2021

Speaker-Tag Series

Environmental influences on brain development and plasticity (flyer)
January 26th 2021

Speaker-Tag Series

Dean Mobbs, PhD

California Institute of Technology

Space, Time and Fear: Survival Decisions along Defensive Circuits

(flyer)

December 15th 2020

Speaker-Tag Series

Kou Murayama, PhD 

University of Tübingen

A reward-learning framework of autonomous knowledge acquisition: An integrated account of curiosity, interest, and intrinsic-extrinsic rewards

(flyer)

December 1st 2020

BIRC Speaker Series

Gyorgy Buzsaki, MD, PhD

New York University

Ways to think about the brain 

(flyer)

(please email elizabeth.collin@uconn.edu to request the recoding)

October 20th 2020

Speaker-Tag Series

Yunzhe Liu, PhD Student

Max Planck UCL Centre

October 6th 2020

BIRC Speaker Series

Damien Fair, PA-C, PhD

University of Minnesota

July 7th 2020

Speaker-Tag Series

Roshan Cools, PhD

Radbound University

June 16th 2020

Speaker-Tag Series

Daphna Shohamy, PhD

Columbia University

June 2nd 2020

Speaker-Tag Series

Danielle S. Bassett, PhD

University of Pennsylvania

Perturbation and Control for Human Brain Network Dynamics

(flyer)

May 19th 2020

Speaker-Tag Series

Danielle S. Bassett, PhD

University of Pennsylvania

Science as Culture

(flyer)

May 5th 2020

Speaker-Tag Series

Nathan Spreng, PhD

McGill University

Explorations into the Default Mode Network of the Human Brain

(flyer)

April 14th 2020

Speaker-Tag Series

Lucina Uddin, PhD

University of Miami

Brain Dynamics and Flexible Behaviors

(flyer)

April 1st 2020

BIRC Speaker Series

Daniel Ansari, PhD

University of Western Ontario

Number Symbols in Brain and Mind

(flyer)

March 3rd 2020

BIRC Speaker Series

David Badre, PhD

Brown University

Prefrontal Cortex and the Hierarchical Control of Behavior

(flyer)

February 4th 2020

BIRC Speaker Series

Katarzyna Chawarska, PhD

Yale University

Social and Affective Characteristics of Infants and Toddlers with ASD

(flyer)

December 3rd 2020

BIRC Speaker Series

Kimberly Nobel, MD, PhD

Columbia University

Socioeconomic Inequality and Children's Brain Development

(flyer)

November 5th 2019

BIRC Speaker Series

Stephanie Jones, PhD

Brown University

Bridging MEG/EEG to Cell and Neural Level Dynamics with the Human Neocortical Neurosolver

(flyer)

October 15th 2019

BIRC Speaker Series

Uri Hasson, PhD

Princeton University

Face to Face, Brain to Brain: Exploring the Mechanisms of Dyadic Social Interaction

(flyer)

September 10th 2019

BIRC Speaker Series

Tor Wager, PhD

Dartmouth College

Neuroimaging of pain and emotion: Computation, representation, and regulation

(flyer)

May 1st 2019

BIRC Speaker Series

Michele Diaz, PhD

Penn State University

Evidence of age-related phonological impairments in language production

(flyer)

April 3rd 2019

BIRC Speaker Series

Theresa Desrochers, PhD

Brown University

Sequential control in the frontal cortex: studies in animals and humans

(flyer)

February 20th 2019

BIRC Speaker Series

James Haxby, PhD

Dartmouth College

Hyperalignment: Modeling the shared deep structure of information encoded in fine scale cortical topographies

(flyer)

January 30th 2019

BIRC Speaker Series

Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli, PhD

Northeastern University

Clinical Translation of Resting State Networks

(flyer)

December 5th 2018

BIRC Speaker Series

Vincent Gracco, PhD

McGill University

 Functional Networks and Speech Production
November 7th 2018

BIRC Speaker Series

David Steffens, MD

UConn Health

Linking Late-Life Depression, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia
October 3rd 2018

BIRC Speaker Series

Emily Meyers, James Magnuson, Fumiko Hoeft, Rachel Marshall and, Louis Bach Tips You Won’t Get at Grant Writing Courses: NIH, NSF, foundation grants and philanthropy
September 5 2018

BIRC Speaker Series

Lihong Wang, MD, PhD

UConn Health

Neuroimaging Markers of Cognitive Reserve and Brain Aging