Seminars 2016-2017

Interdisciplinary collaboration – Applying neuroscience methods to study socio‐cultural phenomena
February 21, 2017

Date: February 21, 2017 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Prof. Ying-yi Hong
Choh‐Ming Li Professor of Marketing
Affiliation: Department of Marketing
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Title: Interdisciplinary collaboration – Applying neuroscience methods to study socio‐cultural phenomena
  To add fuel to the launch of the Neuroscience Interest Group, in this talk, Prof. Hong will discuss possible interdisciplinary fusion of neuroscience (broadly defined) with other disciplines in the social sciences and business studies. Prof. Hong will give a few examples from her own research to start the dialogue. Although she was not trained in neuroscience in graduate school, she was lucky to have the opportunities to collaborate with neuroscience researchers. In this talk, she will discuss her recent research on cultural mixing, cultural attachment, and subjective social‐economicstatus (SES). These studies integrated social psychological methods (e.g., priming) with neuro‐physiological methods (e.g., fMRI, electrodermal activity), and were published in PNAS, Psychological Science, and SCAN. In the last part of her talk, Prof. Hong will share the floor with Prof. Urs Maurer, the convener of the Neuroscience Interest Group (NIG), and other interested colleagues to chart the future of the NIG.
About the Speaker:

Professor Ying-yi Hong is a graduate of this department. After receiving her Bachelor of Social Science degree from the Psychology Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Prof. Hong obtained her Ph.D. from Columbia University. Before returning to teach at CUHK, Prof. Hong has taught at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Nanyang Technological University. She is currently Choh-Ming Li Professor of Marketing at CUHK. Her research focuses on culture and cognition, multicultural identity and intergroup relations. She has published over 120 journal articles and book chapters and her work has been extensively cited (www.yingyihong.org). She has received several awards for her pioneering work, including the Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Relations Award in 2001, the International Society for Self and Identity Outstanding Early Career Award in 2004 and the Nanyang Award for Research Excellence in 2013. Her book The Oxford Handbook of Multicultural Identity has won the 2015 Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Book Award.


Visual Word Reading and Beyond Word Reading
February 14, 2017

Date: February 14, 2017 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Dr. Qing Cai
Affiliation: Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
East China Normal University
Title: Visual Word Reading and Beyond Word Reading
  Reading is a capacity unique to humans. Studies in the last years already demonstrated a neural network underlying word reading. However, we still know little about how such neural response to written language emerges and how it interacts with other cognitive functions. We therefore investigated the neural mechanism of word reading in adults with atypical right hemispheric (RH) dominance for speech, and in children in their first year of learning to read. By the first population, we attempted to clarify the influences of language processing in the frontal cortex on visual word recognition in the ventral occipito‐temporal (vOT) regions; By tracking the acquisition of reading in young children, we examined the emergence of word‐specific response in vOT region, especially when and how it develops. I will also present some of our recent work on natural text reading investigating how text information and individual experiences could affect reading performance, and discuss how this kind of research could shed light on our knowledge of cognitive and neural mechanism of reading.
About the Speaker:

Dr. Qing Cai is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at East China Normal University. Dr. Cai obtained her B.S. in Biotechnology from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and her Ph.D. in Cognitive Sciences from Lyon University, France. She worked in the Laboratory of Language, Brain and Cognition, CNRS, France during her doctoral work, as well as at Ghent University, Belgium and the INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, France as a postdoctoral fellow before she joined ECNU. Her research interests focus on neural basis of speech and language, hemispheric lateralization of language and other cognitive functions, reading acquisition and cognitive development, as well as corpus-based language research.


Parsing Pathways to Health Disparities: A mixed‐method, multi‐domain approach
January 24, 2017

Date: January 24, 2017 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Dr. Meanne Chan
Affiliation: Department of Psychology
University of Toronto
Title: Parsing Pathways to Health Disparities: A mixed‐method, multi‐domain approach
  How does adversity get under the skin of the developing child to instantiate risk for a heterogeneous set of health problems across the life course? How can we integrate epidemiological and mechanistic findings to optimize interventions and build resilience? This program of research aims to characterize biobehavioral pathways to health disparities in childhood and beyond. A mixed‐methods approach is used to examine how social factors at the neighborhood, family, and individual level interact to confer risk for psychopathology and chronic health conditions. In particular, to better understand how exposure to chronic stress provokes vulnerability to conditions that manifest in different life stages, dysregulation across the domains of social‐cognition, emotion processing, health behaviors, cardiovascular reactivity, and immune function are investigated together with the biological state of the developing brain. Findings suggest that adversity during sensitive stages of development sensitizes threat vigilance and response systems as well as immune cells that trigger inflammation, enables high‐risk health behaviors, and interacts with genetic predispositions to forecast neuroanatomical structure in frontolimbic regions. However, mobilization of social capital via mentorship programs or community engagement may buffer against vulnerable trajectories in disadvantaged adolescents. Implications for early interventions that may mitigate childhood adversity will be discussed.
About the Speaker:

Dr. Meanne Chan is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto. She completed graduate training in Health Psychology at Northwestern University, which also included policy research training with The Center on Social Disparities and Health at the Institute for Policy Research and neurobiology training in the Department of Medical Social Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine. She then completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biological Psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, a research hospital fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Her work bridges psychology, neuroscience, and immunology approaches to better understand the vast implications linked with childhood adversity. Meanne also serves as a key partner in community startups for the development of eHealth assessment tools, data science, and knowledge translation. Prior to doctoral training at Northwestern University, Meanne completed undergraduate and Masters studies at the University of British Columbia, majoring in Health Psychology with a minor in Quantitative Methods. American Psychosomatic Society named Meanne as one of 25 Young Investigator Colloquium Scholars in 2016, an award granted for promising early career research.


A New Era in Mental Health Care: Low Intensity Psychological Interventions for Common Mental Disorders
November 29, 2016

Date: November 29, 2016 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Fiona Y.Y. HO
Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Psychology
Affiliation: Department of Psychology
The University of Hong Kong
Title: A New Era in Mental Health Care: Low Intensity Psychological Interventions for Common Mental Disorders
  In recent years, there is a trend toward the integration of low‐intensity psychological interventions into service provision as a way of increasing access to psychological treatments for common mental illnesses in primary health settings worldwide. In view of the structural constraints and cultural barriers of the existing mental health system, such as long waiting period for follow‐up, stigma for mental illnesses, and deviation from traditional weekly in‐person sessions, it is believed that low‐intensity psychological interventions can be a feasible alternative to provide mental health prevention and/or treatment services to the community. The speaker will present three models of low‐intensity psychological interventions, namely stepped care approach, transdiagnostic approach, and self‐help approach.
About the Speaker: Fiona Y.Y. Ho, MPhil is a PhD candidate with a specialization in Clinical Psychology at The University of Hong Kong. She received her MPhil degree in Psychiatry at the same university in 2013. She has been actively investigating how low-intensity psychological interventions could enhance the mental health system in Hong Kong through conducting open trials, randomized controlled trials, and meta-analyses. In addition to lowintensity psychological interventions, her research also focuses on the management of sleep disturbances, particularly insomnia.


A Dual Process Model of Income Inequality and Well‐being: Challenging the Long‐held Assumption that Income Inequality is always Bad
October 25, 2016

Date: October 25, 2016 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Dr. Felix Cheung
Post‐doctoral scholar
Affiliation: Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Washington University in St. Louis
Title: A Dual Process Model of Income Inequality and Well‐being: Challenging the Long‐held Assumption that Income Inequality is always Bad
  In this talk, I will challenge the assumption that income inequality is bad for everyone and propose a dual‐process model of income inequality. When there is income mobility, witnessing others’ financial successes may give one’s hope about one’s financial future, which is good for well‐being. However, when there is limited income mobility, increasing inequality may lead to relative deprivation. Results based on over 1 million respondents suggest that income inequality is beneficial or detrimental to well‐being in predictable ways. The dual‐process model reconciles previous inconsistent findings on income inequality and generates new testable hypotheses.
About the Speaker: Dr. Felix Cheung is a post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. He is interested in how our happiness and health depend on where we live and who we interact with. His recent research focuses on how income inequality, income redistribution, and income mobility interact to predict physical and mental health. Felix is also an active advocate for a more replicable and transparent science.


Affective computing and sentiment analysis
September 27, 2016

Date: September 27, 2016 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Dr. Erik Cambria, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Affiliation: Nanyang Technological University
School of Computer Science and Engineering, Singapore
Title: Affective computing and sentiment analysis
  Emotions play an important role in successful and effective human–human communication. In fact, in many situations, emotional intelligence is more important than IQ for successful interaction. There is also significant evidence that rational learning in humans is dependent on emotions. Affective computing and sentiment analysis, hence, are key for the advancement of AI and all the research fields that stem from it. Moreover, they find applications in various scenarios and companies, large and small, that include the analysis of emotions and sentiments as part of their mission. Sentiment‐mining techniques can be exploited for the creation and automated upkeep of review and opinion aggregation websites, in which opinionated text and videos are continuously gathered from the Web and not restricted to just product reviews, but also to wider topics such as political issues and brand perception. In this talk, I will discuss recent developments and state‐of‐the‐art approaches in this context, present my new department of IEEE Intelligent Systems (sentic.net/acsa) and introduce the latest version of our knowledge base for sentiment analysis based on conceptual primitives (SenticNet 4).
About the Speaker: Erik Cambria received his BEng and MEng with honors in Electronic Engineering from the University of Genoa in 2005 and 2008, respectively. In 2012, he was awarded his PhD in Computing Science and Mathematics following the completion of an EPSRC project in collaboration with MIT Media Lab, which was selected as impact case study by the University of Stirling for the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF2014). After two long-term research visits at HP Labs India and Microsoft Research Asia, he worked as Lead Investigator in NUS Cognitive Science Programme till 2014. Today, Dr Cambria is an Assistant Professor at NTU School of Computer Science and Engineering, a Research Fellow at NTU Temasek Labs, and an Adjunct Scientist at A*STAR IHPC. His current affiliations also include Rolls-Royce@NTU, MIT Synthetic Intelligence Lab, and the Brain Sciences Foundation. He is Associate Editor of Elsevier KBS and IPM, Springer AIRE and Cognitive Computation, IEEE CIM, and Editor of the IEEE IS Department on Affective Computing and Sentiment Analysis.


Novel Approaches of Mindfulness‐Based Interventions in Promoting Mental Well‐Being
September 13, 2016

Date: September 13, 2016 (Tue)
Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Rm 619, Sino Building
Speaker: Prof. Karen Dobkins, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Affiliation: University of California, San Diego

Novel Approaches of Mindfulness‐Based Interventions in Promoting Mental Well‐Being

  In recent years, there has been much attention to the positive effects of mindfulness on mental well‐being. To date, much of the focus has been on the effects of meditation, with studies showing that meditation alters brain function and self‐reports of mindfulness, compassion and overall wellbeing. However, meditation does not appeal to everyone, especially because it is often viewed as being too time consuming. As such, we have been focusing on novel approaches for delivering mindfulness to people of all ages, with the goal of producing “transformative” effects in a relatively short amount of time. To this end, we studied the effectiveness of two novel approaches, in both Hong Kong and California, to allow cross‐cultural comparisons. The first is a workshop called “Principles of Clarity” (POC), created by Professor Dobkins at UC San Diego. This workshop is a combination of lectures and mental exercises, which incorporates principles from neuroscience, Buddhism, cognitive‐behavioral therapy, and positive psychology, and is led as either an 8‐week course (2 hours each week), or a 2‐day course (8 hours each day). The second is a novel exercise method called “IntenSati” (“Sati” meaning “awareness” in Pali), originated in New York City by Patricia Moreno, which is a high‐intensity aerobic workout with positive affirmations grounded in mindfulness principles. The IntenSati session, which is led by Professor Dobkins, lasts for 1 hour. Using several different psychological measures (collected pre‐ and post‐workshop), our findings show that the POC workshop, the IntenSati workout, as well as a combination of the two methods, enhances psychological well‐being (i.e., self‐acceptance, environmental mastery, and positive relations with others), increases feelings of hope, as well as the skills targeted in the POC workshop. Remarkably, the effects of IntenSati on moods and mental well‐being were maintained at five‐month follow up. These findings indicate that novel workshops/exercise methods of this sort can be an effective approach in delivering mindfulness‐based interventions to the community.
About the Speaker: Dr. Dobkins is a professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at UC San Diego. Although her main area of study has been brain development in children (including those with Autism), her most recent research focus is in the area of mindfulness and mental wellbeing. Outside the world of research, she enjoys blending mindfulness with her expertise in Psychology/Neuroscience to create workshops and environments aimed at improving well-being. In addition to teaching an exercise class called “IntenSati” that blends high intensity aerobics with call and response positive affirmations, she like to give inspirational talks, including two Tedx talks “The Space between Kansas and Oz” and “If Passion Weren’t Scary it wouldn’t be Passion”.