Interview with Tiziana Zalla (IJN)
The World Autism Awareness Day will take place on April 2nd. For this occasion, the Fondation FondaMental is organizing,
in collaboration with the DEC, the « Journée d’information sur les recherches sur les troubles du spectre de l’autisme » at the ENS.
You are a CNRS researcher working in cognitive science and psychopathology at IJN, and you are co-leader of the team « social cognition and autism » at the Institute. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
At the beginning of the 90’s, I was looking for a PhD program in cognitive science. Such programs didn’t exist in my country, Italy, at that time. During a stay in Paris, I discovered a graduate program in cognitive science (the current Cogmaster) which had just been created. I was attracted by the diversity and the interdisciplinarity of the courses. I decided to move to Paris and start an internship at CREA under the supervision of Daniel Andler. After that, I did a master’s in neuropsychology at University of Lyon I and a PhD in cognitive science at the Ecole Polytechnique. During my PhD years, I was able to benefit from a very challenging and rewarding scientific and philosophical environment, especially by participating in a dual program at CREA and the Salpêtrière Hospital (where I was trained in cognitive neuropsychology) over four years. I also worked on the deficiency of action planning and representation in patients with prefrontal cortex damage. I completed my education with a post-doc at the National Institute of Health at Bethesda, and in Jordan’s Grafman’s laboratory where I carried out research in brain imaging. At that point, my interest was not yet focused on psychiatry, but I had a strong interest for social cognition. I came back to France in 1999 and began working at the Institute of Cognitive Science in Lyon directed by Marc Jeannerod. This is when I decided to work with patients suffering from a psychiatric disorder. Themes such as representation of action and attributions of intentionality are particularly interesting in furthering our understanding some psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and autism. I worked for four years in the « Psychopathology of intention » team with Nicolas Franck and Nicolas Goegieff. I started working with schizophrenics and began developing my own theories about autism. But it is in 2005, when I moved to Paris after accepting a position at the CNRS, that I decided to start a project about autism.
Can you introduce the « Social Cognition and Autism » team ?
I am the head of the « Social Cogniton and Autism » team that is a part of the Social Cognition team at the Institut Jean Nicod. Our approach is strongly interdisciplinary and at the IJN and the DEC more generally, we benefit from a particularly interesting and enriching scientific and philosophic environment with a large diversity of approaches and high quality of research. We share and complete our psychiatric knowledge through close collaboration with clinicians and researchers who are part of the FondaMental Foundation, which we have been affiliated with since its creation.
On April 2 will take place the World Autism Awarness Day. For this occasion, you are organizing a conference at the ENS with The FondaMental Foundation. It is mainly intended for families concerned by autism. Can you introduce the Foundation?
The FondaMental Foundation is dedicated to fighting mental disorders. Its role is to improve our understanding of mental illness and to support therapeutic innovation, with the goal of improve the quality of care and to give hope to patients and their families and friends. The work of Fondation FondaMental is centered primarily on the most severe and incapacitating mental illnesses: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, high functioning autism, severe depression, suicidal tendancies, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress.
To this end, the foundation mobilizes psychiatrists and highly qualified researchers around three main goals: support of psychiatric research; support for diagnostics and care through a national network FondaMental Expert Centers; the fight against prejudice facing sufferers of mental disorders.
How long have you been a member of the Foundation?
I have been working with the foundation now for over eleven years. It’s a care and research network for mental health that was created by Marion Leboyer. I knew her already from previous projects that we had collaborated on. When she found out I was interested in autism research, she told me that she was planning on opening a center for high functioning autism. I was immediately enthralled with the project, which was both daunting and cutting edge. When I began getting involved, we worked together to introduce and develop research on cognition and neuropsychology in autism.
How does the Foundation work?
It is really about a network of people. Expert centers are able to make diagnoses. Clinicians and psychologists are in touch with patients and families. Families are always involved, as they help contribute to the diagnosis. Parents play a central role in the diagnostic process as well as after the diagnosis is made. This is especially important for the success of early detection in infants and the integration of adults into society. The idea is to minimize the negative consequences of late diagnosis. The research part is optional for the patient and their family. If they accept to take part in experiments, we inform them about the goals of our study. As part of research focusing on the genetic factors of cognitive disorders and their heritability, we sometimes have to estimate the cognitive functions of patients as well as their family members. Studies including both family members and patients have shown that some cognitive difficulties present in family members may be cognitive indicators of vulnerability. Through this network, each researcher brings their expertise, shares their knowledge and new data with clinicians and other researchers. Each team leads its research with its own methodology and focus, but we all have in common an approach of psychiatry based on evidence as well as the following goals: accelerate psychiatric research, encourage early diagnosis to improve patient management, and change attitudes towards mental illness. It is a long-term job that brings us together on a regular basis to discuss and share our results in order to better understand the complex and systemic nature of genetic, epigenetic, neural, cognitive, and biomedical symptoms and manifestations related to autism.
What is the goal of this special day? Can you tell us about the program?
Families who accept to be part of our research want to understand the impact of their participation. They want to know more about what research can concretely bring. Some of them even ask to read our publications. But our publications are written in English and we use a technical terminology that makes them difficult to understand. That is the reason why we have decided to organize a conference: to inform them and present our results in a simple way. It is also a way to thank them for supporting our work. A conference is the best way to share the information we owe them, and will allow us to answer their questions. We hope this event will take place every year. The idea is that people with autism and their families are regularly informed about the progress of our research and autism research generally that is conducted at the international level. We need their help to move forward, to change attitudes, and to fight against prejudice and outdated practices.
Live streaming on the DEC website: www.cognition.ens.fr
Programme of the "Journée d'information sur les recherches sur les troubles du spectre le l'autisme"
Read more about the Fondation FondaMental
Personal website of Tiziana Zalla
Paul Egré (Jean Nicod) has been awarded a bronze medal by the CNRS
The CNRS Bronze Medal recognizes a researcher's early work, which makes that person a specialist in a particular field.
This medal is a way for the CNRS to encourage the researcher to continue work that has met with initial success and already produced fruitful results.
Paul Egré, born in 1975, joined the Institut Jean-Nicod as a CNRS researcher in 2005. He studied philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and at the University Paris I, and at the University of Princeton, where he spent a year as a visiting graduate student. He studied mathematics and mathematical logic at the University of Paris VII. Paul Egré defended his PhD in Philosophy at the Institut d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et Techniques in 2004 (supervisor J. Dubucs), and has taught philosophy at the universities of Paris X, Paris I and Paris IV-Sorbonne. His recent research concerns epistemology, philosophical logic, and the philosophy of language. Since 2008, Paul Egré is PI on an ANR-funded research project on the cognitive origins of vagueness. Paul Egré is associate editor of Studia Logica, Review of Philosophy and Psychology, and the Journal of Philosophical Logic. He is currently on a research stay as a Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies in Uppsala.
IN THE MEDIA
Babies know when they don’t know
From what age is a child capable of anticipating their own mistakes, to know and to express when they do not know? Until now, experts believed that this ability, called complex metacognition, appeared between 4 and 7 years of age. But Sid Kouider’s team at the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique (LSCP), has shown a baby is able to assess its own uncertainty as early as 20 months.
To talk about it, Mathieu Vidard and Axel Villard invited Louise Goupil, post-doc (LSCP) on "La Une de la Science" on March 8, France inter.
Listen to the podcast
Publication "Infants ask for help when they know they don’t know" - Louise Goupil, Margaux Romand-Monnier, and Sid Kouider - PNAS
Photo : Les capacités cognitives des bébés de 20 mois
© Vladimir Godnik/moodboard/Corbis - 2016
Teaching : building blocks and social motives
The audio recording of the lecture by Elena Pasquinelli ( IJN ) within the framework of the round table "Better teachers for a better world" during the international symposium on "Teacher’s cognition" is now online on the SavoirsENS website.
This event was organized by the Compas Group, with the support of the College of Global Studies / FMSH , the Ecole Normale Superieure , Paris-Sorbonne University and GDRI "Education and neuroscience" of the CNRS.
To listen to the conference, click here
Programme of the conference "Teacher's cognition"
Round tables COP21: cognitive science and ecology
The audio and video recordings of the round tables organized by Scalp! in December 2015 are now online on Scalp!'s website.
Cognitive science and education
The association Scalp! is working on a new project: organizing, starting in September 2016, regular involvement of researchers in cognitive science in schools to discuss informally with teachers.
If you are interested, please email: email@example.com
SOME RECENT PUBLICATIONS
Daniel Andler. La Silhouette de l'Humain. Quelle place pour le naturalisme dans le monde d’aujourd’hui ?. Gallimard, 17 mars 2016
Louise Goupil, Margaux Romand-Monnier, and Sid Kouider."Infants ask for help when they know they don’t know", PNAS March 8, 2016
Uncertainty monitoring is a core property of metacognition, allowing individuals to adapt their decision-making strategies depending on the state of their knowledge. Although it has been argued that other animals share these metacognitive abilities, only humans seem to possess the ability to explicitly communicate their own uncertainty to others. It remains unknown whether this capacity is present early in development, or whether it emerges later with the ability to verbally report one’s own mental states. Here, using a nonverbal memory-monitoring paradigm, we show that 20-month-olds can monitor and report their own uncertainty. Infants had to remember the location of a hidden toy before pointing to indicate where they wanted to recover it. In an experimental group, infants were given the possibility to ask for help through nonverbal communication when they had forgotten the toy location. Compared with a control group in which infants had no other option but to decide by themselves, infants given the opportunity to ask for help used this option strategically to improve their performance. Asking for help was used selectively to avoid making errors and to decline difficult choices. These results demonstrate that infants are able to successfully monitor their own uncertainty and share this information with others to fulfill their goals.
Sun, Y. & Peperkamp, S. (2016). The role of speech production in phonological decoding during visual word recognition: evidence from phonotactic repair. Language, Cognition & Neuroscience, 31, 391-403.
During visual word recognition, readers rely not only on a word's orthography, but also on the phonological code that is generated from print. Previous research showed that the phonological decoding of non-native letter sequences is influenced by phonotactic constraints of the reader's native language (Hallé et al., 2008). In the current study, we investigate the mechanisms underlying such phonotactic repair during visual word recognition. We focus on a phonotactic constraint in French, according to which words cannot begin with /tl/. Native speakers of French are known to perceive word-initial /tl/ as /kl/. Using a visual priming paradigm, we show that the same phonotactic repair also occurs when the cluster 'tl' is presented visually, but, crucially, only when participants' speech production system is available; under articulatory suppression the repair fails to occur. Together, these results show that the speech production system is actively involved in phonological decoding during reading.
El Zein M., Wyart V., Grèzes J., Anxiety dissociates the adaptive functions of sensory and motor response enhancements to social threats. Elife
Efficient detection and reaction to negative signals in the environment is essential for survival. In social situations, these signals are often ambiguous and can imply different levels of threat for the observer, thereby making their recognition susceptible to contextual cues – such as gaze direction when judging facial displays of emotion. However, the mechanisms underlying such contextual effects remain poorly understood. By computational modeling of human behavior and electrical brain activity, we demonstrate that gaze direction enhances the perceptual sensitivity to threat-signaling emotions – anger paired with direct gaze, and fear paired with averted gaze. This effect arises simultaneously in ventral face-selective and dorsal motor cortices at 200 ms following face presentation, dissociates across individuals as a function of anxiety, and does not reflect increased attention to threat-signaling emotions. These findings reveal that threat tunes neural processing in fast, selective, yet attention-independent fashion in sensory and motor systems, for different adaptive purposes.
March 25, 2016
Jonathan Cohen (University of California, San Diego): "Conversational eliciture"
March 25, 2016
Aesthetics and Cognitive Science seminar (IJN)
Ines Crespo (IJN/NYU Paris): "Kantian Reflective Judgement and the Normativity of Taste"
March 25, 2016
Doc'in Nicod seminar (IJN)
Andreas Heise: "Metaphor and Figuralism"
March 29, 2016
PaCS seminar (IJN)
Raamy Majeed (Cambridge): "The Abductive Argument for the Cognitive Penetration of Colour Experience"
March 29, 2016
La conscience de soi dans tous ses états : corps, action, perception (IJN)
March 30, 2016
The Mind & Language seminar (IJN)
Sajed Tayebi (IPM, Teheran): "In Defence of Predicativism against Jeshion’s Challenge"
March 31, 2016
Robbie Jacobs (Univ. of Rochester) : "From sensation to conception: theoretical perspectives on mutlisensory perception and cross-modal transfer"
March 31, 2016
Stefano Predelli (Université de Nottingham, directeur d'études associé à l'EHESS): "Proper Names: Semantics and Onomastics"
March 31, 2016
Alban bouvier: "La philosophie des sciences sociales aujourd'hui : ce qu'elle est , ce qu'elle pourrait être (II)"
March 31, 2016
Roud table (IJN)
Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern University): "Disagreement and Social Epistemology"
DEC calendar cognition.ens.Fr.
DEC Colloquium : http://www.cognition.ens.fr/ColloquiumAgendaENG.html.
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