E3: Executive Control and Emotional Meanings in Cognitive and Neural Systems

Lead Research Organisation: MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Abstract

In a range of clinical conditions like depression, anxiety, mania or eating disorders, some individuals come to think about themselves, others and the world in ways that can be well outside the range characteristic of normal healthy people. Part of this may involve the particular mental models they develop of themselves as failures in life or of the world as containing extreme threats to their well-being or self-esteem. Another part has to do with the dynamics of their moment-to-moment thought. Different patients groups may, for example, not only experience extreme emotions, but they may get stuck repeatedly thinking about the same ideas, or repeatedly performing actions. They may have difficulty concentrating on their work or social context. We examine how both normal and clinical populations attend to aspects of meaning that are important to them, and how they remember events and make decisions about actions. The objective of this project is to develop a set of inter-related models of normal cognition as well as different psychopathologies that is sufficiently precise to guide the development of new treatment interventions to move abnormal cognition and affect back into its normal range.

Technical Summary

The overall aim of this research programme has been to model how thought and emotion interact within mental activity characteristic of normal and clinical samples, such as the depressed or anxious. Work in the previous quinquennium focussed on modelling the human mental architecture in terms of patterns of interactions among nine major subsystems. A distinctive feature of this model is the idea that human executive processes could be thought of as involving a dialogue between two meaning subsystems - one dealing with the kind of conceptual meaning expressed in sentences and the other a more abstract type of meaning that integrates over information from multimodal sources - conceptual, sensory and proprioceptive. This second type of meaning is where ideation and emotion intersect. A key practical objective of the programme is to provide inter-related accounts of a range of psychopathologies. Work conducted in the last quinquennium is currently being written up with no new empirical work being undertaken. The programme will end on 31st March 2010.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Co-evolution of cognition and emotion 
Organisation University of Leeds
Department School of Computing Leeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We synthesised source of information to generate a full theoretical argument.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in comparative and evolutionary psychologyExpertise in computational reasoningExpertise concerning archaeological evidence for specific hominin behaviours (mostly use of stone tools).
Impact Theoretical paper Barnard et al. Cognition and Emotion, 2007 (non pub med).
 
Description Co-evolution of cognition and emotion 
Organisation University of New England
Department Department of Archaeology and Paleoanthropology
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We synthesised source of information to generate a full theoretical argument.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in comparative and evolutionary psychologyExpertise in computational reasoningExpertise concerning archaeological evidence for specific hominin behaviours (mostly use of stone tools).
Impact Theoretical paper Barnard et al. Cognition and Emotion, 2007 (non pub med).
 
Description Co-evolution of cognition and emotion 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Department School of Psychology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We synthesised source of information to generate a full theoretical argument.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in comparative and evolutionary psychologyExpertise in computational reasoningExpertise concerning archaeological evidence for specific hominin behaviours (mostly use of stone tools).
Impact Theoretical paper Barnard et al. Cognition and Emotion, 2007 (non pub med).
 
Description Embodied Cognition, Emotion and Dance 
Organisation Random Dance
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have designed a number of behavioural studies of dance making (contemporary choreography)
Collaborator Contribution They have made available professional dancers for behavioural studies and neuro-imaging
Impact We have published journal papers (see non-pub med outputs), and an educational book chapter. We have also made presentations about our sci-art collaborations in a wide range of interdisciplinary and other public symposia (e.g the Venice Dance Biennale, 2006)
 
Description Process Algebra Modelling of Cognition & Emotional Attention 
Organisation University of Kent
Department School of Computing
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We provided experimental data to be modelled and advice on cognitive theory
Collaborator Contribution They bring advanced computational modeling skills
Impact We have produced a number of conference papers aimed a practical uses of modelling attention, an instructional book chapter and a journal article (Su et al., 2008 Formal Aspects of Computing, listed in publications but not in pub med)
 
Description Processing of meaning in Bipolar Disorder 
Organisation King's College London
Department Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We provided software to assist in data collection, discussions on design and assistance in writing up
Collaborator Contribution They provided access to patient groups and the person-power to collect data
Impact Journal publication 18796173
 
Description SenseCam faciitated recollection 
Organisation Microsoft Research
Department Microsoft Research Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We designed the experimental intervention and are collecting a little over half of the data
Collaborator Contribution they did some patient testing
Impact We have presented our preliminary work at two conferences
Start Year 2007
 
Description SenseCam faciitated recollection 
Organisation University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Department School of Psychology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We designed the experimental intervention and are collecting a little over half of the data
Collaborator Contribution they did some patient testing
Impact We have presented our preliminary work at two conferences
Start Year 2007
 
Description Gulbenkian Foundation Sci-art event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Throughout the day a number of dialogues/demonstrations occurred between artists and scientist in front of an invited audience of specialists and media.

none
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2009
 
Description Venice Dance Biennale 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public dialogue about interdisciplinary research with a dance educator and choreographer

It led to a lot of discussion and subsequently an invitation to write a book chapter about it.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006
 
Description Wayne McGregor | Random Dance: Meet Our Scientists 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Around 40 people joined in discussion of relationship between science and art

invitation to do an interview for BBC2's Culture show.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010