ASSC15 Tutorials

                                                                                        Thursday June 9, 2011    

                                        -------------------- Full-Day Tours --------------------

Tour 1: Tour to the robotics laboratory in the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories. Summary
Full-Day  *SOLD OUT*
In this one-day tutorial (from 9am to 3pm), the participants will take a train to ATR in Kyoto prefecture (~1 hour from Kyoto) and see the state-of-the-art Japanese robotics research demonstrations.  We hope those robotics research approaches would provide a fresh viewpoint for consciousness researchers, showing a future possibility of consciousness in robots (!?), casting doubt on our perception of consciousness in other creatures (including human beings), etc.   
Note that the registration will be free for this tutorial.  Estimated cost for train is ~1600 JPY.  Lunch will not be provided.   Due to the limitation of the facility, we can host only up to 20 people.  Note that we host the first 20 registrants. 
Three laboratories will show their own robots with demonstration.   
(1) Laboratory by Dr. Mitsuo Kawato (ATR) (demonstration by Dr. Jun Morimoto (ATR) and Dr. Erhan Oztop (ATR))
We introduce our research activities at Dept. of Brain Robot Interface and Dept. of Communications and Cognitive Cybernetics, ATR-BIC. We have been developed motor control and motor learning algorithms for humanoid robot CB-i (Computational Brain-interface). We will show part of the results using CB-i. We are also interested in connecting brains to assistive robots to reconstruct motor function of patients. We will introduce our newly developed assistive exoskeleton robot. In addition, we will also introduce the new Motoman robot arm and show its affordance based control for simple manipulation tasks. The motoman robot is 7DOF robot arm which has similar motion capabilities as of human.
(2) Laborartory by Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro (Osaka U & ATR)(demonstration by Dr. Nishio)
The demostration will show several teleoperated android robots such as Geminoid HI-2, Geminoid F and Telenoid R1/R2. The geminoids are teleoperated android robots that are made to resemble existing real humans. Telenoids are designed to reveal the minimal nature of human beings, so that while still showing enough human likeliness, interlocutors can feel the presence of arbital operators in the remote. These teleoperated robots have been designed to transfer presence of individuals in the remote through teleoperation, as a new communication medium. From another aspect, the geminoids and telenoids can be seen as equipments to separate one's body and mind; that is, while the mind (the operator) is preserved, the body part can be hanged to that of different appearance and body structure and thus can be used as research platform for approaching numbers of philosophical / psychological issues that have not been possible before.
(3) Laboratory by Dr. Minoru Asada (Osaka U & JST)
Cognitive Developmental Robotics (CDR) is a new cutting-edge cognitive developmental research paradigm to obtain new understanding of learning and developmental mechanisms through implementation of these processes as programs in humanoid robots and examining their behavior. The achievements will bring a new methodology to design umanoid robots which can learn autonomously, adapt themselves to unknown situations, and develop in environments. We have developed several humanoid robots as platforms for CDR, which are designed to be used commonly among researchers not only in the field of robotics but also in human science. Our demonstration will show various kinds of behavior of the developed platforms
Tour 2: Tour to the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute. Summary
Full-Day  *SOLD OUT*

In this one-day tutorial (from 8am to 4pm), the participants will take a train (or chartered bus) to PRI in Inuyama city located near Nagoya, 2.5 hours away from Kyoto city. Participants will see the chimpanzee facility and observe the cognitive experiments with chimpanzees.  Some demonstration video clips can be found in YOUTUBE ( and our website (  

Note that the registration will be free for this tutorial.  Estimated cost for train (or chartered bus) is ~15000 JPY.  Lunch is available in the restaurant at PRI. Due to the limitation of the facility, we can host only up to 8 people.  Note that we host the first 8 registrants. We will require the health check (free from tuberculosis) for the participants.




                                        ------------------Morning Tutorials ------------------

TUTORIAL 1: "Integrated information, causal density and conscious level." Summary
  • Adam Barrett (University of Sussex, UK)
  • Anil Seth (University of Sussex, UK)
A key challenge in the neuroscience of consciousness is to develop theoretically grounded and practically applicable quantitative measures sensitive to conscious level. We begin by motivating the hypothesis that, given fundamental phenomenological properties, conscious level must somehow correlate with the extent to which underlying neural dynamics are simultaneously differentiated and integrated. We will describe two groups of proposed measures based on this hypothesis:
(i) Measures of integrated information, which reflect the extent to which the information generated by the whole system exceeds that generated by its parts. We will introduce the concepts and mathematics of information theory necessary to understand integrated information. We focus on two new versions we have developed to overcome previous limitations, which are applicable to realistic neural models and to time-series data.
(ii) Measures of causal density, which characterize the overall causal interactivity between different system elements. Again, we introduce the necessary concepts and mathematics, in this case those of Granger causality which have broad application beyond measures of conscious level.
These measures are gaining prominence in consciousness science, but are more complex than other measures such as synchrony, coherence, etc. There is therefore a need, and likely a strong demand, for a clear account of their formulation and application.  
We will contrast and compare the two groups of measures, both in their conception and in their properties in simulation, and discuss – with audience participation – their merits and shortcomings as measures of consciousness. We finish by discussing practical application of these measures to real data.
TUTORIAL 2: “Disorders of Consciousness: Coma, Vegetatitve State and Minimally Conscious State." Summary
  • Tristan A Bekinschtein (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, UK)
  • Melanie Boly (University of Liege Sart-Tilman, Belgium)
  • Olivia Gosseries (University of Liege Sart-Tilman, Belgium)
Disorders of consciousness such as coma, the vegetative and minimally conscious states are among the most mysterious and less understood pathologies of the human brain. In this tutorial will explore disorders of consciousness in relation to three issues. First, we will give an overview of what disorders of consciousness are, and how coma, the vegetative state and the minimally conscious state differ from each-other. Secondly, we will tackle the question of how to assess the presence of residual cognition and consciousness despite the lack motor or verbal responses. In this section we will focus on standard clinical and experimental behavioural assessments, and neuroimaging approaches, including electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). A major focus of this section will be interpretation of brain data and the relationship between brain activation and awareness: What does brain data allow us to infer, about a patient’s mental life, and under which (experimental) conditions? In the last section of the tutorial we will explore the possible theoretical frameworks for understanding the phenomenon of consciousness, and how this could lead to a measure for quantifying its presence.
This tutorial is aimed primarily at two audiences. For scientists, the overview of the topic together with the strong focus on methodology should provide an ideal first step into this field of research. For clinicians that are confronted with these patients, the tutorial will provide an overview of the how novel approaches can inform their decisions, and, in particular, what are the advantages and constraints of brain data. For philosophers will be a crash course into basic concepts on how to go from data to results to scientific interpretation. For all will be an exciting discussion about the limits of testing conscious processing without motor or verbal responses and the implications of this to neurosciences of consciousness.
TUTORIAL 3: “  Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Conscious Awareness  ." Summary
  • Tony Ro (The City University of New York, USA)
  • Hakwan Lau (Columbia Univ, USA)
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is one of the few methods that allow the direct manipulation of neural activity in human subjects in a safe and reversible fashion. Unlike brain imaging methods, TMS allows us to directly test for the causal role played by different brain regions in different psychological processes. TMS can induce vivid changes in human subjects’ conscious experience, by for instance inducing illusory percepts when it is applied to the visual cortex, or by inducing involuntary motor twitches when applied to the motor cortex. Compared to brain imaging facilities, TMS is easy and cheap to set up (less than US$25,000 for the initial setup of a basic laboratory). Therefore, more and more researchers in cognitive neuroscience are employing TMS. This is true also for consciousness research. This tutorial introduces the basics of TMS, and requires minimal background knowledge in cognitive neuroscience. We use examples from the consciousness literature, on various topics such as visual awareness, experience of volition, and sleep research, to illustrate different aspects of the technique, drawing on work by ourselves as well as those by other laboratories. We will also give critical analysis of selected individual studies, so participants with substantial experience will also find the materials stimulating. We hope that this tutorial will help attendants understand this state-of-the-art method, and the potential future developments of TMS studies on consciousness. Also, we hope this will help some attendants decide how best to incorporate this technique into their research.
TUTORIAL 4: “Self-Knowledge: Philosophy meets Cognitive Science. " Summary
  • Peter Carruthers (University of Maryland)
Philosophers almost universally maintain that knowledge of our own occurrent mental states (including not only our own perceptions, images, and emotional feelings, but also our own current judgments, desires, and decisions) is somehow privileged and authoritative. In contrast, a wide range of evidence from across cognitive science suggests that while our own experiences are globally broadcast (thereby becoming conscious) and hence made available to the mindreading system (thus being easily self-attributable), we can only know of our own propositional attitude states via interpretation of sensorily-accessible data. Hence our knowledge of our own propositional attitudes is little different in epistemic status from our beliefs about of the attitudes of other people.
The first section of the tutorial will explain the contrasting approaches, and will develop the interpretive account, explaining how it is consistent with global broadcasting architectures and with current models of working memory. The second section will seek to explain the intuition of immediate access that underlies philosophical accounts, arguing that this results from a simplifying heuristic built into the structure of the mindreading faculty. The third section will examine evidence on meta-memory and meta-reasoning that bears on the debate, and will discuss evidence from schizophrenia, autism, and brain imaging that is alleged to show a dissociation between the mechanisms of self-knowledge and other-knowledge. Finally, the fourth section will look at evidence that people often make confabulatory claims about their own current attitudes, discussing how this seems to strongly support the self-interpretive account.

                                      ------------------Afternoon Tutorials ------------------

TUTORIAL 5: Cancelled
TUTORIAL 6: “Towards the neuroscientific definition and empirical investigation of Qualia.   " Summary
  • Naotsugu Tsuchiya (RIKEN, BSI)
  • Ryota Kanai (UCL, UK)
Finding the neuronal correlates of consciousness (the NCC) has become a central issue in cognitive neuroscience.   However, the definition of the key word, "qualia", remains elusive, and even researchers within the same field use “qualia” in many different ways, to the extent that we cannot answer simple questions such as  "whether percepts of faces are qualia?" or “emotion of fear a quale?”  Here, we offer a possible definition of “qualia” by considering what are irreducible units of perception from a neuroscientific point of view.   We propose that whether a percept should be considered as a single quale or compound of qualia hinges on whether the percept requires top-down attention for binding or not. Our hypothesis predicts that “qualia” emerge from neuronal circuits that bind elements of percept via genetically instructed wiring or via rewiring through extensive learning. Chunked qulia can be bound flexibly via top-down attention, yet this is just a combination of qualia, which needs to be distinguished from genuine qualia.  We believe the effort to make a clearer consensus of what qualia are could lead to a surge of neuroscientific investigation of consciousness, based on an analogy with researches on ‘elementary features’ following the proposal of Feature Integration Theory by Anne Treisman.   We propose that our new hypothesis will facilitate empirical research into qualia by illuminating more focused issues directly relevant to the Hard Problem.
TUTORIAL 7: “Comparison of the Major Scientifically Oriented Theories of Consciousness." Summary
  • Ned Block (New York University)
This tutorial will compare the following 5 theories of consciousness:

1. Higher order thought

2. Global Workspace

3. Neurocomputational

4. Integrated Information

5. Representational

These theories will be compared with regard to their accounts of 3 basic dimensions of consciousness: what distinguishes different contents of consciousness (for example, the experience of red vs the experience of green); what distinguishes a conscious perception from an unconscious perception (for example, what distinguishes a conscious perception of a fearful face from an unconscious perception of a fearful face); and what the difference is between a conscious creature and something unconscious or non-conscious (for example, a conscious human vs a non-conscious computer).

Background reading:

No knowledge of the issue will be presupposed, but the following might be useful:

“Comparing the Major Theories of Consciousness,” The Cognitive Neurosciences IV,  Michael Gazzaniga (ed.) MIT Press, 2009

TUTORIAL 8: Cancelled