MoMiLab Seminars

Mark Thornton

Dartmouth College

28/01/20 @ 9am

The neural representation of mental states: Organization for prediction

To navigate the social world, people must understand and anticipate each other’s thoughts and feelings. How does the brain organize its representations of these hidden mental states? In the first part of my talk, I will describe the 3d Mind Model, which posits that three psychological dimensions describe the way the brain represents mental states: rationality (vs. emotionality), social impact (the extent to which states affect others), and valence (positive vs. negative). FMRI, computational text analysis, and behavior all indicate that the 3d Mind Model is a robust, comprehensive, and generalizable account of mental state representation. In the second part of my talk, I will discuss a key function of this map of the mental world: facilitating the prediction of mental state dynamics. I will present evidence from experience sampling and fMRI studies which indicates that representing mental states along the dimensions of the 3d Mind Model facilitates accurate and efficient social prediction. I will conclude by discussing new data from statistical learning and artificial neural network experiments, which suggest that the goal of prediction shapes how the brain generates mental state concepts in the first place.

Visiting Professors

Susan Bookheimer

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCLA

Clinical neuropsychologist with a broad interest in the study of human cognition in relation to brain structure, function, and pathology. Her experimental expertise includes structural and functional MRI and intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping, as well as classical neuropsychological approaches.

Jack Van Horn

Professor of Psychology and Data Science at University of Virginia

Author, researcher, lecturer on the human brain, its structure and function, and the role of information technology in sharing data for use in understanding fundamental neurological processes in health and disease.

Andrea Mechelli

King’s College London

After completing his studies in psychology at the University of Padua (1999), he carried out a PhD in neuroscience at University College London (2002). In 2004, he joined the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London, where is Professor of Early Intervention in Mental Health. His research Interests: Integration of machine learning and neuroimaging to develop diagnostic and prognostic models of psychosis; Development and validation of novel clinical tools for improving detection and treatment of psychosis; Use of smartphone technologies to investigate the impact of the built and social environment on mental health in real time (see

Corrado Sinigaglia

Università degli Studi di Milano

Professor of Philosophy of Science at University of Milan since 2001. Before that he studied at the Husserl-Archives of Leuven (1992-1993), at the Ecole Normale Superiéure of Paris (1994), and at the University of Genova (1995-1999), where he obtained my PhD in Philosophy of Science. Fields of research: Cognitive neuroscience and philosophy of mind. He is currently working on the role of motor processes and representations in joint action.

Past Visiting Professors

Russ Poldrack

Stanford University

Professor of Psychology and director of the Stanford Center for Reproducible Neuroscience. His research uses brain imaging to understand how we learn and make decisions and how we exert self-control. Some projects he developed include the Cognitive Atlas (htttp:// and OpenfMRI (

Leah Krubitzer

University of California, Davis

American neuroscientist, Professor of Psychology and head of the Laboratory of Evolutionary Neurobiology. Her research interests center on how complex brains in mammals (e.g., humans) evolve from simpler forms.

Past Seminars

Pieter Roelfsma

Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

James Haxby

Dartmouth College

Jody Culham

Western University

Hans Op de Beeck

Leueven University

Michael Hanke

Forschungszentrum Jülich

Maria Ida Gobbini

Dartmouth College

Takao Hensch

Harvard University

Michela Fagiolini

Boston Children's Hospital