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Seminar: Professor Catherine Tallon-Baudry

April 27, 2017 @ 16:00 - 17:30

Visceral inputs, brain dynamics & subjectivity
Thursday 27th of April @ 4 pm5:30 pm (Sherrington Library, Sherrington Building)

Catherine Tallon-Baudry from the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, will talk about her research at the Cortex Club on Thursday, 27th of April.

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Current research focus
“We study how the first-person perspective, or subjectivity, that is intrinsic to conscious life, is implemented in the brain. We study the neural bases of subjectivity in perception, but also in spontaneous thoughts or in preferences. We develop and test the hypothesis that the signals from internal organs such as the heart or the stomach, that are continuously registered by the brain, generate a subject-centered referential from which subjectivity can develop. To test this hypothesis we use brain imaging (MEG, EEG, fMRI in healthy participants, intracranial EEG in epileptic patients) combined with behavioral paradigms.”

Brain dynamics are usually considered to be constrained by brain-related parameters, such as anatomical connectivity and conduction delays, or by external factors, such as the stimulus to be processed. This classical point of view ignores the fact that the brain constantly monitors bodily inputs, in particular from life-supporting organs such as the heart or the stomach. I will present recent evidence that visceral inputs constrain brain dynamics, as measured in humans with resting-state magneto-encephalography, functional MRI, or single-unit recordings. From a functional point of view, the neural monitoring of visceral inputs may play a fundamental role by generating an egocentric reference frame, from which first-person perspective, or subjectivity, can develop. I will present data showing that neural responses to heartbeats in the default-network play a functional role as they encode self-relevance in spontaneous thoughts but also predict subjective visual experience. Visceral-brain interactions might thus represent a core mechanism constraining both brain dynamics and « cold » cognitive processes.


April 27, 2017
16:00 - 17:30


Sherrington Library, Level 2
Sherrington Building
Oxford, OX1 3PT
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