The 15th annual meeting of the ASSC

Kyoto, Japan

Dates: Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th June 2011

The main conference will be preceded by the Social Neuroscience Satellite and Metacognition Satellite
and will be followed by the Neurophysiology Satellite

Venue: The Clock Tower at Kyoto University


Welcome address

Welcome to Kyoto, and welcome to ASSC15.  On behalf of the local organizing committee, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all participants for their attendance.
     March 11th, 2011 turned to be a very important day for all the people living in Japan.  A magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the Sanriku area, a region along the Pacific coast of northern Japan.  It was followed by a huge tsunami, with waves up to 39 m high.  Several cities and towns near the coast were completely destroyed and swept away.   We found 14,998 dead, and 9,761 are still missing (as of May 12th).  In addition, the Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered serious damage. The loss of electricity for cooling the nuclear fuel rods resulted in a meltdown. The radiation problem still continues.
     The triple disaster was a serious burden for us.  This is the most severe disaster that we have experienced in our lives.  We received a lot of e-mails from foreign friends expressing their condolences in connection with the events.  The sympathy pouring in from many remote places encouraged us a lot. We understand that security reports based on scientific evidence cannot easily outweigh the psychological evaluation of safety.  Even though there are no problems in Kyoto whatsoever, many foreign participants may have paused to reconsider whether to come or not to come.  Your families and friends may be anxious about your visit to Japan.  Nonetheless, you eventually decided to take the trip, at a time when the country was in trouble. In that sense, your participation itself carries a strong message and is the real encouragement for us.
     In Japanese, the word “kokoro” covers many concepts, including mind,  spirit, heart, emotion, will, consciousness, awareness, feeling, and compassion.  In other words, we take a holistic approach to representing the human mind and related matters.  All these aspects are highly interconnected and cannot be easily partitioned.  The ASSC15 meeting focuses on consciousness.  Personally, I am not an expert on consciousness: my studies have examined the mind of the chimpanzee, as a whole, through studies both in the laboratory and in the wild.  From an evolutionary perspective, one of the key questions that interests me is what made us human. Based on my studies I have come to recognize that chimpanzees live in a world of the here and now.  They are not worried about their future, not even about tomorrow.  In contrast, humans can reflect on a past long before their birth, think about a future that will follow their death, and can empathize with people suffering on the other side of the world.  This is thanks to the power of imagination that is uniquely human.  It may sometimes make us feel desperate when thinking about difficult situations.  However, through our imagination, we humans can have hope too. Japan is a country surrounded by sea and located along a tectonic plate boun dary. It has suffered a great number of natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, and fires.  In a sense, the country has been in the front line of the battle against disasters for centuries.  There is a Japanese proverb which says “Fall seven times, stand up eight”.  As far as we keep hoping, we can make a change.
     Flexibility may be important in many physical, mental, and social aspect of human life.  You can sense such flexibility in every corner in Kyoto.  Kyoto was the capital of Japan between 794 and 1868.  It persisted as the heart of the country for more than 1000 years. When you take a walk in the city, you can encounter various interesting things.  Most of them are so tiny and so subtle that you may not immediately notice their importance.  However, please follow the way of Zen meditation.  Try being quiet for a few minutes: Stop walking, stop speaking, stop looking, and stop thinking.
    You will still feel something through your kokoro. I wish you a very pleasant and fruitful stay throughout the ASSC15 conference.  We appreciate the efforts of all participants giving keynote speeches, tutorials, and oral or poster presentations.  I hope you enjoy your various encounters both at the conference and in the city. 

Thank you again.

Tetsuro Matsuzawa
Local organizing committee
ASSC15, Kyoto, Japan




Keynote speakers:

  • Edmond Rolls (Oxford University, UK) 
  • David Eagleman (Baylor College of Medicine, USA)
  • Fiona Macpherson (University of Glasgow, UK)
  • Takamitsu Yamamoto (Nihon University, Japan)
  • Ralph Adolphs (Caltech, USA)
  • Nicholas Humphrey (Cambridge University, UK)  

Symposium Speakers:

  • Ryota Kanai (University College London, UK)
  • Stephen Fleming (University College London, UK)
  • Robert Hampton (Emory University, USA)
  • Peter Carruthers (University of Maryland, USA)
  • Roy Baumeister (Florida State University, USA)
  • Hakwan Lau (Columbia University, USA)  
  • Al Mele (Florida State University, USA)
  • Simon van Gaal (INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging unit, France)          
  • Shinsuke Shimojo (California Institute of Technology, USA)
  • Yasuo Kuniyoshi (University of Tokyo, Japan)
  • Hiroshi Ishiguro (Osaka University/ATR, Japan)
  • Thomas Metzinger (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität)

Tutorial Presenters:

  • Adam Barrett (University of Sussex, UK)
  • Anil Seth (University of Sussex, UK)
  • Tristan Bekinschtein (Cambridge, UK)
  • Melanie Boly (University of Liege Sart-Tilman, Belgium)
  • Martin Monti (Cambridge, UK)
  • Caroline Schnakers  (University of Liege Sart-Tilman, Belgium)
  • Olaf Blanke (Brain Mind Institute, Switzerland)
  • Thomas Metzinger (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität)
  • Peter Carruthers (University of Maryland, USA)
  • Mauricio Sierra-Siegert (Institute of Psychiatry, KCL, UK)
  • Nick Medford  (University of Sussex, UK)
  • Naotsugu Tsuchiya (RIKEN, BSI, Japan)
  • Ryota Kanai (University College London, UK)
  • Tony Ro (The City University of New York, USA)
  • Hakwan Lau (Columbia University, USA)




















  • Tetsuro Matsuzawa (Kyoto University), president
  • Toshio Yanagida (Osaka University), vice president
  • Mitsuo Kawato (ATR), vice-president
  • Tadashi Isa (Institute of Physiology), vice president
  • Shinsuke Shimojo (Caltech, USA), supervisor
  • Masaki Tomonaga (Kyoto University), general secretary
  • Naotsugu Tsuchiya (JST & RIKEN, Japan), secretary

Advisory committee:

  • Minoru Asada (Osaka University, Japan)
  • Atsushi Iriki (RIKEN, Japan)
  • Masamichi Sakagami (Tamagawa University, Japan)
  • Masuo Koyasu (Kyoto University, Japan)
  • Kazuo Fujita (Kyoto University, Japan)
  • Sakiko Yoshikawa (Kyoto University, Japan)
  • Tomoko Kuwabara (Kyoto University, Japan)
  • Jun Saiki (Kyoto University, Japan)
  • Toshiya Murai (Kyoto University, Japan)

Scientific Program Committee:

  • Tadashi Isa (NIPS, Japan), Chair
  • Masatoshi Yoshida (NIPS, Japan), Secretary
  • John-Dylan Haynes (Humboldt-University, Germany)
  • Michael Pauen (Humboldt-University, Germany)
  • Anil Seth (University of Sussex, UK)
  • Nobuhara Yukihiro (University of Tokyo, Japan)
  • Daniel Stoljar (Australian National University, AUS)
  • Gabriel Kreiman (Harvard University, USA)
  • Melanie Wilke (California Institute of Technology, USA)
  • Olivia Carter (University of Melbourne, AUS)





















Conference sponsors:

  • Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University (KUPRI)

  • The Mind Science Foundation.

  • The travel award for 40 young scholars was given by the KUPRI-HOPE program.