Mind and Matter Talks 2022

Mind and Matter Talks invites renowned scholars with fresh insights into the themes of information, intelligence, and consciousness to share their research in conversation with UH researchers.

All talks take place online, on Fridays from 14:00 to 15:30. Join us on Zoom at https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/61233149144!

  • 30 September - Nienke van Atteveldt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):
    The use of portable EEG to enhance adolescents’ sense of control and growth mindset
  • 14 October - Yukie Nagai (University of Tokyo):
    Robots as Mirrors of Human Mind
  • 28 October (NB changed date!) - Anil Seth (University of Sussex):
    Being You – A New Science of Consciousness
  • 4 November - Fernando E. Rosas (Imperial College London):
    On the emergence of human cognition and consciousness: opportunities and challenges
  • 18 November - Laura Batterink (Western University):
    Learning language without trying: Probing the brain's ability to extract linguistic patterns outside of awareness
  • 13 January 2023 from 12:00 to 13:30 (NB changed date and time!) -
    Philip Goff (Durham University) and Keith Frankish (University of Sheffield)
    All of Nothing: Why illusionism and panpsychism may be the only options on consciousness (available on YouTube)

More information about the talks and the speakers below.

Nienke van Atteveldt

The use of portable EEG to enhance adolescents’ sense of control and growth mindset

Recently, efforts have been made to increase the ecological validity of neuroscience research by conducting research in authentic educational contexts with the use of portable Electroencephalography (EEG). In this talk, I will discuss how portable EEG can be integrated in lessons to teach children about the brain and their own influence on their learning processes. I will present results of an intervention for young adolescents in which EEG-based neurofeedback was integrated within a growth mindset intervention, to increase their sense of agency and related motivation profiles including mindset.

Hosted by Benjamin Cowley


Nienke graduated from Utrecht University in 2000 (MSc in biomedical sciences) and received her PhD (cum laude) in cognitive neuroscience from Maastricht University in 2006. After her PhD she spent a couple of years in New York (Columbia University, Child-Psychiatry) to investigate how the brain adapts its processing to the current context and behavioral goal.  Her interest in how neuroscience interacts with society has also been growing since that time, and particularly, that challenge of how we can optimize the educational value of developmental cognitive neuroscience research. In 2014, she moved to the Vrije Universiteit (VU) where she currently works as full professor and leads the Lab of Learning. She is currently Vice-President of the International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES), and co-chair of the UNESCO MGIEP International Scientific Evidence-based Education (ISEE) Assessment.

Yukie Nagai

Robots as Mirrors of Human Mind

How does the mind develop? Robots become mirrors for investigating the human mind. Researchers can gain deeper insights into the human mind by designing an artificial mind. A key research question is what neural mechanism underlies the development of the mind. Is there a unified theory for developing minds? This talk will show our robotic studies inspired by a neuroscience theory called predictive coding. We hypothesize that the predictive processing of the brain leads to temporal continuity and individual diversity of development. Our results extend the predictive coding theory to a unified theory for developing minds.

Hosted by Riikka Möttönen


Yukie Nagai is a Project Professor at the International Research Center for Neurointelligence, the University of Tokyo. She received her Ph.D. in Engineering from Osaka University in 2004 and worked at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Bielefeld University, and then Osaka University. Since 2019, she leads Cognitive Developmental Robotics Lab at the University of Tokyo. Her research interests include cognitive developmental robotics, computational neuroscience, and assistive technologies for developmental disorders. She has been investigating underlying neural mechanisms for social cognitive development by means of computational approaches. She was elected to “30 women in robotics you need to know about” in 2019 and “World’s 50 Most Renowned Women in Robotics” in 2020.

Anil Seth

Being You – A New Science of Consciousness

Consciousness is, for each of us, all there is. Without consciousness there is no world, no self: there is nothing at all. But we know surprisingly little about the material and biological basis of this most central feature of our lives. How do rich multisensory experiences, the senses of self and body, and volition, agency, and ‘will’ emerge from the joint activity of billions of neurons locked inside a bony skull? Once the province of philosophy and theology, understanding consciousness has re-emerged as a major scientific challenge for this century. In this talk I will give a fresh perspective on this new science of consciousness, drawing from my new book Being You. We will see that the brain is a kind of prediction machine, that experiences of the world – and of the self – are forms of ‘controlled hallucination’, and that consciousness is deeply rooted in our nature as living creatures, embodied and embedded in our environments.

Hosted by Valtteri Arstila


Anil Seth is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, where he is also Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. He is also Co-Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Program on Brain, Mind, and Consciousness, and Editor-in-Chief of Neuroscience of Consciousness (Oxford University Press). 

Website: www.anilseth.com
Twitter: @anilkseth

Fernando E. Rosas

On the emergence of human cognition and consciousness: opportunities and challenges

The idea that the mind may “emerge” from the activity of a physical substrate has an intuitive appeal which has motivated numerous fruitful philosophical work. However, its influence on scientific investigations has been limited due to the lack of agreement on what exactly emergence means, and how it could be objectively assessed on experimental data. On this talk we will review the foundations of a recent line of work that aims to bridge that knowledge gap by proposing a formal, quantitative definition of what emergence is, which in turn delivers practical tools that can be used in practical data analysis. The first part of the presentation will focus on the mathematical formalisation of intuitions about emergence, explaining its conceptual and practical aspects. Then, we will review recent neuroscientific findings that have been attained via these frameworks, including the predominance of emergent neural activity on brain regions associated with high cognitive functions, and the reduction of capability for emergence in subjects with traumatic brain injuries. We will conclude by exploring the potential of these approaches for the study of artificial intelligence, where recent investigations suggest a causal relationship between emergence and capability for flexible learning.

Hosted by Luigi Acerbi


Fernando Rosas received the B.A. degree in music composition and philosophy (Minor), the B.Sc. degree in mathematics, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering sciences from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He worked as Postdoctoral Research Assistant with the Departement Elektrotechniek (ESAT) of KU Leuven, as Postdoctoral Fellow with the Graduate Institute of Communication Engineering of the National Taiwan University, and as Marie Curie Research Fellow with the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial College London. He is now a postdoctoral researcher with the Department of Brain Sciences and the Data Science Institute at Imperial College London, and an incoming Lecturer with the Department of Informatics at the University of Sussex. His research is focused on leveraging tools and frameworks from complexity science to advance our understanding of high brain functions.

Laura Batterink

Learning language without trying: Probing the brain's ability to extract linguistic patterns outside of awareness

Languages all contain countless regularities or patterns. These can be both highly complex and subtle, and native speakers are typically unaware of them.  I have argued that implicit learning, which produces knowledge that is inaccessible to awareness, plays an important role in acquiring these types of patterns across the lifespan.  Using artificial language paradigms and drawing upon EEG/ERP and behavioural evidence, I will demonstrate that linguistic patterns (1) can be learned outside of conscious awareness, (2) outside the focus of attention, and (3) may be influenced and enhanced by memory processes occurring during sleep. In a newer line of research, we are now probing the extent to which implicit learning mechanisms may be leveraged to support learning in adult learners of a natural second language. Taken together, these results show that many of the mechanisms that support language processing and acquisition operate “beneath the surface,” without requiring effort, focused attention, intention to learn or conscious awareness. These results show promise for helping to identify new strategies for language learning, particularly for adult second language learners.

Hosted by Anu-Katriina Pesonen and Riikka Möttönen


Dr. Laura Batterink is an Assistant Professor in Psychology and a member of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and completed postdoctoral training at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on understanding how implicit and explicit memory contribute to language acquisition and related learning mechanisms. She is also interested in examining how sleep-dependent memory consolidation processes contribute to different aspects of language and learning. Her research leverages EEG, event-related potentials (ERPs), polysomnography, and other neuroimaging methods. An underlying motivation of this work is to characterize how key aspects of language differ in terms of their processing and acquisition throughout the lifespan, with a view towards understanding difficulties characteristic of second-language acquisition.

Philip Goff and Keith Frankish

All of Nothing: Why illusionism and panpsychism may be the only options on consciousness

Philip Goff defends panpsychism, the view that phenomenal consciousness is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of the physical world. Keith Frankish defends the view that phenomenal consciousness doesn't even exist. Each will defend their respective views, including the common starting point that physical science cannot fully account for phenomenal consciousness.

Hosted by Alexander Carruth

Bio: Philip Goff

Philip Goff is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Durham University. Goff’s main research focus is consciousness, but he is interested in many questions about the nature of reality. He argues for panpsychism, the view that consciousness is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of the physical world. Goff has authored an academic book with Oxford University Press – Consciousness and Fundamental Reality – and a book aimed at a general audience – Galileo's Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness. He is currently working on a book exploring the middle ground between God and atheism. Goff has published 45 academic articles as well as writing extensively for newspapers and magazines, including Scientific American, The Guardian, Aeon and the Times Literary Supplement. The interview with Goff by Pulitzer Prize winning author Gareth Cook was one of the most viewed of the most viewed articles in Scientific American of 2020.

Twitter: @Philip_Goff

Bio: Keith Frankish

Keith Frankish is Honorary Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Sheffield, UK, Visiting Research Fellow at The Open University, UK, and Adjunct Professor with the Brain and Mind Programme in Neurosciences at the University of Crete, Greece. He is well known for defending an illusionist view of consciousness, and he has also written extensively on the nature and function of conscious thought. Keith has authored two books, published numerous articles and book chapters, edited or co-edited five academic volumes, and is editor of CUP's Elements in Philosophy of Mind series. He has also written about philosophy of mind and other topics for a range of magazines, including Aeon, The Economist, New Humanist, Philosophy Now, Psyche, The Philosophers’ Magazine, Times Higher Education, and The Times Literary Supplement.

Website: www.keithfrankish.com
Twitter: @keithfrankish