Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry
Exploring the neural landscape of imagination and abstract spaces
External cues imbued with significance can enhance the motivational state of an organism, trigger related memories and influence future planning and goal directed behavior. At the same time, internal thought and imaginings can moderate and counteract the impact of external motivational cues. The neural underpinnings of imagination have been largely opaque, due to the inherent inaccessibility of mental actions. The talk will describe studies utilizing imagination and tracking how its neural correlates bidirectionally interact with external motivational cues. Stimulus-response associative learning is only one form of memory organization. A more comprehensive and efficient organizational principal is the cognitive map. In the last part of the talk we will examine this concept in the case of abstract memories and social space. Social encounters provide opportunities to become intimate or estranged from others and to gain or lose power over them. The locations of others on the axes of power and affiliation can serve as reference points for our own position in the social space. Research is beginning to uncover the spatial-like neural representation of these social coordinates. We will discuss recent and growing evidence on utilizing the principals of the cognitive map across multiple domains, providing a systematic way of organizing memories to navigate life.
This talk will not be available after the live broadcast.