Monday, 15 May 2017

Research Seminar: Visiting Speaker Distinguished Professor Cathy Spatz Widom

*** Everyone Welcome! No need to book in advance**

Date: Friday 16th June 
Time: 14:00-15:00 
Room: Town Hall Committee Room 2 

What has become of abused and neglected children?

Distinguished Professor Cathy Spatz Widom (John Jay College and City University of New York)


Numerous cross-sectional studies have reported associations between childhood adversities and outcomes.  However, the results of these studies are ambiguous because they represent only a snapshot of the child, adolescent, or adult at the time.  Since the late 1980s, Cathy Spatz Widom has been studying a large group of children with documented cases of physical and sexual abuse and neglect and another group without those histories (controls), matched on the basis of age, sex, race, and approximate childhood family social class.  Both groups (abuse/neglect and controls) have been followed up in several waves of in-person interviews and data collection efforts over 30 years.  This presentation will describe the long-term consequences of childhood abuse and neglect across multiple domains of functioning, pointing out differences by sex and race, and implications for policy and practice.

Cathy Spatz Widom, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Professor in the Psychology Department at John Jay College and a member of the Graduate Center faculty of the City University of New York. Her work represents the intermingling of two disciplines – psychology and criminology -- and this is reflected in her publications, awards, and funding. She is an elected fellow of the American Psychological Association, American Psychopathological Association, and American Society of Criminology (ASC).  Widom served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Child Maltreatment Research, Policy, and Practice for the Next Decade and is currently a member of the Committee on Law and Justice at the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences at the National Research Council. Her work has been funded by the National Institute of Justice, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and she has received numerous awards for her research, including the Edwin H. Sutherland Award in 2013 from the ASC and the Stockholm Prize in Criminology in 2016. Widom and her colleagues have published over 145 scholarly papers and book chapters on the long-term consequences of childhood abuse and neglect, including two articles in Science (1989 and 2015). Dr. Widom received her Ph.D. in psychology from Brandeis University.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Visiting Scholar from Al-Farabi Kazakh National University 15th-19th May

The Centre for Psychoanalysis will be hosting a visiting scholar from Al-Farabi Kazakh National University from May 15th to the 19th. 

Dr Aliya Abesheva is teaching in the Faculty of Philosophy and Political Science, with particular research interests in psychoanalysis and psychology. 

She will be giving an open lecture titled 'Social Alienation and the Problem of the Destruction of the Subject in Freud's Conception of Neurosis'.  

Date: Tuesday 16th of May 
Time: 16.00 
Location: CG83

Please do come along, and pass this information along to anyone who you think may be interested. 

For further information or to arrange contact/exchanges about research ideas with Aliya during her stay here please email Julia Borossa.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Research Seminar: Visiting Speaker Amy Woy (University of Westminster)

*** Everyone Welcome! No need to book in advance***

Date: Thursday 27th April 
Time: 12:00-13:00 
Room: College Building C133

Which songs would you take to a desert island? A naturalistic investigation of music and memory. 

Amy Woy (University of Westminster)

Desert Island Discs is a long-running BBC Radio 4 program that invites well-known guests to select eight recordings they would take with them if stranded alone on a desert island. 65 interviews were transcribed with guests from a broad range of professions and ages. Where possible age period was recorded as well as genre, and popularity of the music selected, and reason for the choice. Overall, results demonstrated the presence of a reminiscence bump, although individuals from some professions were less likely to conform to this typical pattern. In line with other research, music was strongly linked to autobiographical remembering but with a bias towards songs that would trigger memories of people. Implications regarding the relevance for reminiscence therapy are discussed. 

Amy is a (second year) doctoral researcher at the University of Westminster, where she graduated with First Class Honours in BSc Cognitive Neuroscience in 2014. Her dissertation, with Dr. Catherine Loveday, assessed the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs, where she investigated music and autobiographical memory in a more naturalistic setting. The findings were first presented at the 6th International Conference on Memory in Budapest in July 2016. Her current project focuses on the use of multi-sensory stimuli such as music, objects, and photographs, to evoke autobiographical memories in people with varying degrees of memory impairment. Amy aims to contribute to the understanding of autobiographical memory structure, and identify a more tailored and effective approach for non-drug therapies.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Screening of a film by Robbie Campbell (SOAS)

in conversation with
Fabia Franco and Nicola Brunswick (Psychology) 
& The DaCapo Music Foundation

Robbie Campbell will be presenting an immersive sensory ethnographic film (71 mins) as one strand of his research on the relationships between specific learning difficulties and indigenous processes of music making and acquisition. His case study on Chopi timbila xylophone music in Mozambique attempts to demonstrate and explore parallels between existing interventions for dyslexia and dyspraxia, and the holistic cultural system of socially, informally and aurally transmitted music. This audio-visual presentation hopes to encourage discussion on various themes relating to specific learning difficulties and dyslexia, music education, cross-discipline dialogue, and methodological approaches. 

Everyone welcome!

Please contact Fabia Franco for further information:

Monday, 20 March 2017

Research Seminar: Visiting Speaker Dr Andrew Dunn (Nottingham Trent University)

*** Everyone Welcome! No need to book in advance***

Date: Thursday 30th March
Time: 16:00-17:00
Room: College Building C126

Dr Andrew Dunn (Nottingham Trent University)

'Cold Words and Rich Comments: Environmental Primes and Person Perception' 

Humans are categorical creatures who readily and rapidly make judgements of others based on the way they look or sound. These judgements can be remarkably accurate or wildly off the mark. Irrespective, they can have a significant impact on our behaviour and of those being judged. Here we will explore unpublished data from several experiments looking at the effects of context information (race, socio-economic status and perceived pathogen threat) on judgements of perceived criminal culpability, attractiveness and health. I will show that subtle changes in contextual information have a nuanced but significant impact on how we perceive and judge others. I will argue that there is no such thing as a context free experiment because we are inherently sensitive to our environment and that it leads us to naturally categorise the world with unexpected consequences. Accordingly we should be mindful of such effects as Psychologists but also as citizens of a democratic industrialised society, under threat from an artificially heightened fear of others. 

Dr Andrew Dunn is a senior lecturer in Psychology and an experimental psychologist with interests in the functional mechanisms of perception, attention, memory, motor action, and the application of evolutionary theory and methods to understanding human behaviour.


Friday, 3 March 2017

Research Seminar: Visiting Speaker Dr Joe Levy (University of Roehampton)

*** Everyone Welcome! No need to book in advance***

Date: Thursday 16th March
Time: 16:00-17:00
Room: College Building C133

Dr Joe Levy (University of Roehampton)
'Why Statistical Representations of Word Meaning are Interesting for Psychology' 

For the last twenty years there has been increasing interest in the use of computational methods to capture certain aspects of word meaning. These methods capture how words are used by looking at the other words that they co-occur with, building patterns of co-occurrence or “semantic vectors” that can be used to measure the semantic distances between words. The techniques used have been driven by technological concerns but there has always been an interest in them from some psychologists. I will describe some current techniques and argue that semantic vectors may be able to play an important role in computational/statistical models of human behaviour. I will illustrate these points by examining the use of semantic vector methods in solving vocabulary multiple-choice tests.

I am a cognitive scientist with interests in language, memory and social cognition. I have used techniques from computational modelling, cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Along with colleagues from Roehampton, recent projects have included:
the use of experimental methods, EEG and fMRI to examine action observation and perspective taking; the use of fMRI to measure the association of the default mode network and measures of empathy; accounting for variation in children’s reading performance with measures of metacognition.

A current focus is work with my colleague John Bullinaria (University of Birmingham) that continues our long collaboration of working on computational measures of word meaning. Our techniques have been very successful in generating numerical representations of the patterns of usage of different words in large bodies of text. The differences or distances between these "semantic vectors” can be shown to reflect the semantic relationships between different words. Recently, we have applied our technique to successfully improve models of cortical activation during word meaning processing tasks. Currently, along with Dr Samantha McCormick at Roehampton, we are looking at the various ways our semantic vectors can explain the linguistic structure of and human performance on vocabulary multiple choice tests. Plans for the future include exploring further applications of these semantic representations in the modelling of linguistic, cognitive and neuroscientific phenomena.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Next Seminar in the Psychoanalysis and Liberation Series

Impossible Spaces Johan Siebers (Middlesex University) 

This seminar explores the requirements for critical theory - a form of theory, as Horkheimer says, that aims to liberate people from forces that enslave them - in the present geopolitical constellation. Freud observed that there are three impossible professions: government, education and psychoanalysis, "in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results". But each of these has to do with the aim of critical theory: liberation. Government's utopian goal is the free society; education's goal is the enlightened, autonomous person, in control of their own thought process; the goal of psychoanalysis is "where id was, the ego shall be". What, then, makes the professionalisation of liberation impossible? Is this impossibility total or is there a different path to freedom, or perhaps a freedom in becoming aware of the nature of the impossible? What would it be to create a possibility for utopia, the non-space that is a good space (Thomas More), in other words, for impossible spaces? What can politics, education and psychoanalysis learn from each other, as possible ways of doing what is impossible? The seminar will explore ways of thinking about these questions by contrasting Freud's theory of the no-longer-conscious with Bloch's theory of the not-yet-conscious, and by indicating the centrality of hope borne out of the encounter with the darkness of the lived moment.

Johan Siebers is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Middlesex University and Associate Fellow and Director of the Ernst Bloch Center for German Thought at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London. His research and publication interests are in metaphysics, critical theory and the philosophy of communication. He is founding editor of Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication.

Venue: Room C205, College Building, Middlesex University, Hendon, London


Contact: Maaike Engelen (