Biography: Dr. Peter Mitchell is Professor of Psychology at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom and Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grant Assessment Panel. Previously, he was Dean of Science at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and before that Head of the School of Psychology in Nottingham UK. He has published around 100 scientific articles in leading international journals, has published six books and he is editor of the British Journal of Psychology. His research has won national prizes in the UK (The Neil O’Connor Prize for the UK’s best article on cognitive aspects of developmental disorders in 2007) and his paper on cognitive theories of autism, published in Developmental Review, ranks number 1 as the journal’s most downloaded article. He has served as Chair of the Developmental Section of the British Psychological Society and as Chief Examiner for the Economic and Social Research Council UK PhD studentship competition. Before joining Nottingham University he worked at the University of Birmingham, University of Oxford, University of Wales and University of Warwick. He also served as visiting professor at McGill University in Canada.
Do people with ASD have readable minds?
Much research has investigated how well people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can read others’ minds; no research (except for Sheppard et al, 2016) has investigated how well people can read the minds of those who have ASD. The mind is embodied in behaviour and we can therefore assume that if a person can interpret an other’s behaviour to infer its cause (e.g. reacting to a compliment), then that person is effectively mindreading (retrodictive mindreading). Success in this kind of mindreading depends on the ability of the perceiver (the person who is doing the mindreading) and on the quality of the signal emitted by the target (the kind of clues that are observable in the person who is reacting to the causal event). Because people with ASD might react to events in rather unusual ways, the quality of signal they emit is not optimal and in consequence it might be difficult to read their minds. The research presented in this lecture will speak to this matter.
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Neural dynamics of sustained feature-based visual attention in early visual areas of the human brain
In everyday life, shifting and focusing attention on a certain location, object or feature is a key element in the extraction of sensory information in order to allow for adaptive behavior. This is in particular the case, when we search for a certain object in a cluttered scene, such as one person in a photo full of other people. In such search situations, feature-based attention plays a key role in solving the task. In a series of experiments we investigated neural dynamics of sustained feature-based visual attention in early visual cortex by means of electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings. To this end, we frequency tagged stimuli at different frequencies eliciting steady state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) an oscillatory continuous signal with the same frequencies as the respective driving stimulus. Generators of SSVEPs have consistently been found in early visual cortex leading to the idea that frequency tagging stimulates neural networks that are linked to the processing of the respective stimulus. Given the ongoing nature of the signal it allows one to extract temporal dynamics of facilitation/suppression in near real time. We showed that feature selection need not to be mediated by spatial attention and that shifting attention to a particular feature is at odds with the idea of attention being a strictly limited resource, because shifting resulted in an early facilitation of the to-be-attended followed by a suppression of the to-be-ignored feature stimulus. Shifting attention within compared to between feature dimensions resulted in different time courses, and finally, it occurs as if global feature selection is mandatory, even when it conflicts with task demands.
Michael Stevens received his BA in psychology from Amherst College and PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri - Columbia (APA-approved). He is a professor emeritus of psychology at Illinois State University, where he directed the master's program in counseling psychology and was named Outstanding University Researcher. Dr. Stevens is currently a consultant and adjunct professor in the International Psychology Department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Dr. Stevens is Past-President and Treasurer of APA's Division of International Psychology and co-edited its journal, International Perspectives in Psychology; he also is a Fellow of the Division and received its Outstanding International Psychologist award. Dr. Stevens was named an honorary professor at The Lucian Blaga University in Romania, where he completed Fulbright and IREX grants; he also is a visiting professor at The Ovidius University in Romania. Dr. Stevens received an honorary doctorate from each of these Romanian universities. Among his 100-plus publications are the following seminal books on international psychology: Handbook of International Psychology (2004), Toward a Global Psychology: Theory, Research, Intervention, and Pedagogy (2007), Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource (2005-2009), Teaching Psychology Around the World: Volume 2 (2009), and The Oxford International Handbook of Psychological Ethics (2012). Dr. Stevens has given invited addresses and led workshops around the world on topics germane to international psychology.
Dr. Stevens is also a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, working with individuals and couples, providing employee assistance program services to local businesses, and conducting security-clearance evaluations for nuclear power plants in Illinois.
The Importance of Gratitude to Individual and Social Well-being
Living with purpose - to be meaningfully engaged in the moment - can begin with awareness of unearned benefits that add value to our lives. Expressions of thankfulness for these unearned increases of value in our lives are the basis for gratitude. In this keynote address, formal and lay definitions of gratitude are presented, and then distinguished from mere appreciation. The contribution of gratitude to personal and community well-being is traced to diverse religious belief systems and character virtues found in the philosophies of classical antiquity. More recent psychological perspectives on gratitude are traced, from traditional humanistic psychology to contemporary offshoots of positive psychology, such as self-determination theory. From there, empirically supported explanatory models that account for the multiple salubrious outcomes of gratitude are described. These positive outcomes include benefits to various indices of physical and mental health, the development of adaptive personality styles, and the establishment and strengthening of a broad range of interpersonal relationships, including the sense of community. The keynote address concludes by delineating avenues for raising the awareness and expression of gratitude, through simple exercises to formal therapeutic interventions.