Philosophy, Psychology and
Neuroscience Research Seminar

Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience Research Seminar

The PPN Research Seminar is a joint endeavour to promote interdisciplinary discussion between Philosophy and Psychology, and to communicate research carried out in both departments.

Venue: Seminars will take place in either the Reid Room, Philosophy Level 4, 67 Oakfield Avenue, 4–6pm, and in the Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room or Level 5 Seminar Room, 58 Hillhead Street, 4–6pm, unless otherwise noted (see below).

All students, staff and visiting researchers are welcome to attend.

To be added to the subscriber list, contact Jennifer Corns: 

Monday, 6 November, 2017 Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room Maria Olkkonen (Psychology, Durham University) Is it blue or green? Exploring the effects of memory and cateogrization on colour perception. 
Monday 13 November 2017 Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room Robert Briscoe (Philosophy, Ohio University and Univerisyt of Glasgow) Pictorial experience in the light of vision science
Monday 27 November, 2017 Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room Will Davies (Philosophy, University of Birmingham) Relational colour constancy
Monday 22 January, 2017 Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room Frederique de Vignemont (Philosophy, Institut Jean Nicod) Peripersonal Perception
Monday, 12 February, 2018 Psychology Level 5 Seminar Room Mazviita Chirimuuta (History of Philosophy of Science, Pittsburgh) Perspectives on the Motor Cortex
Monday, 26 February, 2018 Psychology Level 5 Seminar Room Dhanraj Vishwanath (Psychology and Neuroscience, St Andrews) TBA
Monday, 19 March, 2018 Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room Paul Noodhorf (Philosophy, York) TBA
Monday, 7 May, 2018 Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room Roland Fleming (Psychology, Giessen) TBA
Monday, 14 May, 2018 Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room William McNeil (Philosophy, Southampton) TBA
Monday, 21 May, 2018 Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room Katerina Fotopoulou (Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London)  Mentalising homeostasis: The social origins of interoception and the virtual self
Monday, 28 May, 2018 Psychology Level 6 Meeting Room Jack Lyons (Philosophy, University of Arkansas)  TBA

AHRC logoThis year’s seminars are jointly sponsored by the Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology, and the CSPE.

Organised by Dr Derek Brown



Robert Briscoe: “Pictorial experience in the light of vision science”

In Art and Illusion, E.H. Gombrich famously argues that pictures elicit a 3D-scene-representing experience of the same psychological kind as the experience of seeing face-to-face. Since the represented, 3D scene is absent from sight, however, this experience is non-veridical. In this presentation, I’ll develop and defend what I take to be the most plausible version of Gombrich’s non-veridical visual experience theory. My discussion will have three aims: First, I will consider and reject the proposal that pictorial experience is just a special case of ambiguous or ‘multistable’ perception. Second, I’ll argue for an account of the structure of pictorial experience that I refer to as ‘weak onefoldness’. Pictorial experience is onefold in the sense that its content reflects a single, consistent, 3D-scene-interpretation of the retinal image. Pictorial experience is only weakly onefold, however, in that it typically attributes certain combinations of properties to the 2D, pictorial surface and to objects in phenomenally 3D, pictorial space at the same time. Finally, I’ll set out to reconcile the Gombrichian claim that pictorial experience and seeing face-to-face are psychologically continuous with the observation that the former experience doesn’t typically dispose the perceiver to believe that its objects are really present to sight. An empirically motivated account of stereopsis developed by the perceptual psychologist Dhanraj Vishwanath (2014), I propose, makes such reconciliation possible.  

Will Davies: “Relational colour constancy”

Perceptual constancies, such as we encounter in our visual experience of shape, size, and colour, are among the most significant yet perplexing aspects of perception. Colour constancy is widely taken to involve some invariance in our perception of objects’ monadic colour properties – properties such as red23 and green17 – under changes in illumination. In contrast, an important yet neglected cluster of empirical theories focuses on perceived constancies in the colour relations borne between objects in the scene (Craven & Foster 1992). Such relational theories neatly explain some recalcitrant data, but present philosophical puzzles concerning the supposed phenomenology and content of relational constancy phenomena. I take a closer look at these puzzles and propose a resolution. The ensuing account has wider implications. For one, it undermines the standard monadic determination view of relational colour perception, on which the colour relations that we perceive as holding between two objects are determined by the monadic colours that we perceive those objects as having. In addition, the account implies a revisionary view of the role of colour vision in our perception of objectual form. 

Aikaterini Fotopoulou: "Mentalising homeostasis: The social origins of interoception and the virtual self"

The question of whether our mental life is initially and primarily shaped by embodied dimensions of the individual or by interpersonal relations is debated in many fields, including psychology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and more recently, cognitive neuroscience. In this interdisciplinary talk, I will defend the claim that even some of the most minimal aspects of selfhood, namely the feeling qualities associated with being an embodied subject, are fundamentally shaped by embodied, 2nd-person, interactions with other people in early infancy and beyond. Such embodied interactions allow the developing organism to ‘mentalize’ its homeostatic regulation. In other words, embodied interactions contribute directly to the building of mental models (inferences) of the infant’s physiological states, given the need to maintain such states within a given dynamic range despite internal or external perturbations. I have linked this process to contemporary, computational models of brain function and named it ‘embodied mentalization’. To support these theoretical claims I will present: (1) Behavioural and neuroimaging studies with healthy individuals, individuals with body awareness disturbances following right-hemisphere stroke and individuals with Anorexia Nervosa on the role of affective, embodied interactions, and particularly social affective touch, in the progressive sophistication of mental distinctions between ‘self-other’. Finally, on a series of studies on physical and social pain, I will argue that given the dependency of humans in early infancy, ‘closing the loop’ in interoceptive inference necessarily relies on other people’s actions. Hence, even some of the most ‘subjective’ aspects of our experience, e.g. the feeling of pain, are fundamentally shaped by embodied, interactions with other people in early infancy and beyond.

Frederique de Vignemont: "Periperonsal Perception"

Philosophy of perception has often been accused to analyse perception exclusively on the model of vision, but it is also guilty of focusing on the perception of far space, neglecting the possibility that the perception of the space immediately surrounding the body, which is known as peripersonal space, displays different properties. Peripersonal space is the space in which the world is literally at hand for interaction. It is also the space in which the world can become threatening and dangerous, requiring protective behaviours. Research in cognitive psychology has recently yielded a vast array of exciting discoveries on its multisensory, sensorimotor, and dynamic specificities. Yet very little has been done on their implications. Here I will explore the following question: in what manner does the visual experience of a snake close to my foot differ from the visual experience of the snake in the other s in the sky?