Coordinator : Mélissa Allé
Abstract: Lebanon emerged from a 15-year war in 1990 to plunge into an unstable, uncertain and violent post-war period where crises have been accumulating even more intensely since the October 2019 revolution, culminating on August 4 2020 with one of the most devastating explosions in history. In this multi-crises context with a global pandemic background, the mental health of Lebanese is necessarily affected. Our research project aims at studying the narrative identity, i.e. the narration of one's individual history, in the Lebanese population in times of crisis. Through this approach, we first seek to establish a link between the life stories of individuals and the vulnerability to psychiatric conditions common in times of crisis such as post-traumatic stress disorder. We also seek to assess the impact of these crises on the Lebanese population beyond pathology, on a more nuanced continuum. In other words, this multi-crisis context could have a cognitive and affective impact that would alter the global psychological functioning even in apparently healthy/undiagnosed people; we want to understand how. At the intersection between social psychology and neuroscience, our approach is ideal to explore the field and identify the axes to be deep dived in later with more quantitative and numerical approaches, in order to detect weak signals. Our work has the ambition to propose new psychotherapeutic avenues adapted to the Lebanese population and, more generally, to high-risk populations going through societal crises. In order to make our results accessible to a wider public than the academic one, especially to worried and anxious patients in times of crisis, we will also develop a scientific communication axis with Sci-dip, an emerging startup in the field.
Coordinator: Laurent Madelain
Abstract: Saccades and smooth pursuit eye movements are extremely plastic and previous evidence demonstrated that human observers learn to adjust these movements depending on the reinforcement contingencies. However, limitations on eye movement learning have been reported which are attributed to the assignment of credit problem, i.e. the ability to connect causes and effects. Solving the assignment of credit problem depends on the nature of the events and the probabilistic and temporal relations between events. The objective of ACES is to investigate the conditions under which these factors might constrain learning for pursuit and saccades. We will conduct a series of experiments in humans and develop a computational model based on the active-inference framework to account for the reward-based modulations of eye movements and their limitations. Overall, ACES should significantly enhance our knowledge regarding the eye movement plasticity and provide a solid general framework for motor learning.
Coordinator: Anahita Basirat
Abstract: Most individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) suffer from speech production impairments. The impairments need to be addressed as they decrease the communicative abilities of individuals with PD and affect their social life. The current project aims at exploring the relevance of rhythmic priming (i.e. listening to rhythmic auditory stimuli before speech production) to rehabilitate speech impairments in PD. We will address this issue by using a combination of psychological, linguistic and neuroscientific approaches and by investigating behavioral and electrophysiological (EEG) measures. The project focuses on dysprosody, a disorder that is often reported in PD but has received little attention in the field of speech and language therapy. We will examine the effect of various types of rhythmic priming on speech production from a phonetic, phonological and intelligibility perspective. Moreover, we will characterize the underlying neurocognitive mechanisms. To do so, we will examine the role of the basal ganglia versus the cerebellum. In addition, we will study stimulus-brain entrainment to better understand how rhythmic priming modulates speech production. We will also examine how individual differences in musical and attentional abilities and the degree of disability related to PD impact the benefit of rhythmic priming. These various investigations will help to (1) better understand how perception of rhythm modulates speech production and (2) evaluate the relevance of methods based on rhythmic priming in speech and language therapy. This project will have a strong theoretical impact as it will shed new light on the perception-production and music-language links, thus adding to current models of speech production. Beyond its scientific contribution, the project will hopefully help develop personalized and cost-effective behavioral interventions to manage speech production impairments in PD.
Coordinator: Gwendoline Mahé
Abstract: The ability to read is the foundation of human education and social progress. Yet we are far from having reached a full understanding of how expert reading skills are acquired. Despite adequate instruction, children and adults do not all reach expert reading skills, with implications for many activities in everyday life and consequences for academic success, professional and social integration. Understanding reading acquisition and its deficits represents thus a major societal issue. Concerning the cognitive factors underlying reading deficits, many non-verbal factors have been identified such as visual attention and executive functions like error monitoring. Error monitoring is crucial in a variety of situations as it allows individuals to detect and correct their own errors and avoid repeating them in the future.
The present project aims to examine the impact of error monitoring abilities on the development of expert reading skills and reading disorders. First, by combining different techniques (behavioral, electrophysiological and electropmyographic data), the proposal offers a systematic examination of the presence and magnitude of error monitoring impairment in adults with different kinds of reading deficits (i.e., dyslexic readers, poor readers characterized by a low exposure to print and a low socio-economic level). Second, the project will determine in a longitudinal study if error monitoring abilities measured before reading instruction constitute a good predictor of future reading skills in children. Third, we will combine a theoretical and a practical approach, by evaluating the impact of an error monitoring training program on reading skills in dyslexic children.
Taken together, the present findings will lead to a better characterization of developmental dyslexia relatively to other kinds of reading deficits. In the long term, the findings could improve the early identification of children at risk to develop reading difficulties as well as improve teaching methods for reading acquisition.
Coordinator: Anna Montagnini (Université Aix Marseille)
Collaborator: Laurent Madelain
Abstract: Perceiving is essentially a decision process, whereby our brain has to deal with multiple uncertain and often ambiguous elements from the sensory input to make sense of the world. This is particularly evident with multistable, ambiguous visual stimuli, where multiple interpretations (percepts) are possible for a single physical stimulus. In this condition, human observers spontaneously alternate between the possible percepts at unpredictable times. This phenomenon has intrigued brain scientists and philosophers for decades, who have addressed questions like “What pushes our brain to switch to a new percept?”, “What factors, in the observer’s experience, conscious will, or learnt behaviors, can help or interfere with perceptual multistability?”.
Another important property of human visual processing is that it is strongly non uniform, meaning that only the central part of the image projected to the eye, reaching the fovea, is processed with high resolution. Therefore, a reliable analysis of the sensory input requires a sequential sampling of information (e.g. collecting different viewpoints and local detailed observations), which is achieved with incessant eye movements: we call this active vision.
Vision-3E builds on the assumption that visual perception results from a dynamic functional loop, which consists of three major building blocks : Expectation about the physical world (through our internal beliefs), Exploration of the sensory evidence, and Exploitation (monitoring) of the combined information resulting from expectation and exploration, to build or update a stable percept of the world. Rather than a mere feed-forward construct we assume fully recurrent connections, since for instance percept-related activity projects back onto the early sensory processing levels, leading in turn to a more focused filtering of the sensory evidence.
We aim at collecting behavioural and physiological evidence about these three key functions— expectation, exploration, and exploitation, in order to better understand and model their interaction. Importantly we also make the assumption that eye movements participate actively to the functional closed-loop, contributing to the sensory exploration and to the filtering of information leading to stabilise the percept (in the exploitation phase).
Hence we will use multiple techniques (visual psychophysics, eye tracking, EEG, fMRI-guided neuro-stimulation) with innovative experimental designs, as well as computational modelling, to achieve a comprehensive understanding of active visual decision-making. We will focus on the particular framework of multistable perception, but we will exploit the consortium synergy to be able to generalize results and interpretations across different visual ambiguous stimuli and different experimental manipulations. The originality of Vision-3E is three-fold: First, as already mentioned, the role of eye movements for perceptual decisions will be thoroughly addressed (including with specific interventional experiments selectively perturbing them). Second, we will integrate a dynamic model of the sequential decisions leading to percept reversals in the standard theoretical stationary framework of multistability. Third, we will extract (offline, then online) oculomotor and EEG markers that will be directly fed into the model, and eventually test its predictive power (offline and online) about forthcoming percept reversals. The online closed-loop stimulation, involving fast computation on the EEG-model-TMS chain is the most ambitious and slightly risky development of the project.
Feasibility and success of the workplan are granted by the strong collaborative attitude and complementary expertise of the consortium members, across five labs and three sites, all provided with state of the art equipment.
ANR: Franco-Allemand 2019
Coordinator: Bilge Sayim
Abstract: Seeing is a product of a complex physical and physiological chain of events. While some isolated stages of the visual pathway are well understood, studying the direct link between the physical stimulus and perception remains one of the challenges in vision science. In humans, the activation of the retinal photoreceptor mosaic constitutes the cellular entry point of the visual signal. To isolate the single cell contribution to the overall percept is difficult, because in normal viewing, tens of thousands of photoreceptors are stimulated at any given moment. Moreover, precise experimental access is hindered by the optical imperfections and the constant movement of the eye. Recent advances in adaptive optics micro-stimulation, however, now make it possible to target single photoreceptor cells in the living retina for isolated function testing. Here, we ask in how far each individual photoreceptor contributes to the visual percept and if elemental cellular signals also instantiate perceptual elements. How does it look to see with only a single photoreceptor, and how do these elemental percepts combine and interact when stimuli are more complex? We will tackle these questions by direct mapping of highly controlled single (and multiple) cell stimulation and the subjective appearances they elicit. While the microscopic mapping between single cell stimulation and appearance is to- date entirely unknown, there is also a lack of understanding of the relation between stimulus and appearance on a macroscopic level, i.e. the more natural condition of spatially extended stimuli. One reason is that by far the largest part of vision research uses performance measures, like visual acuity or sensitivity, to study how well visual stimuli can be detected or discriminated, but not how they appear subjectively. To understand the underlying mechanisms of visual space perception, however, it is important to have a precise account of one of the central outputs of the system — visual appearance. Here, we will combine micro and macro captures of visual appearance, all the way from the single cone in the fovea to large arrays of cones in the periphery. To this end, we will develop novel procedures to accurately quantify subjective appearance and apply these methods in a number of paradigms that are known to alter stimulus appearance. By combining cutting-edge high-resolution optical stimulation techniques with novel appearance-based psychophysical methods in a large range of behavioral experiments, we aim to uncover the elemental building blocks of visual space perception.
ANR: Programme MRSEI (Montage de Réseaux scientifiques européens ou internationaux)
Coordinator: F. Rubellin, Université de Nantes
Partner in SCALab: Yann Coello
ANR: Générique 2019
Coordinator: Angèle Brunellière
Abstract: The purpose of the project is to examine how spontaneous interactive cues conveyed during social interactions contribute to learning and knowledge co-construction. The project seeks to address the question of how communication shapes people’s mental representations, and whether people’s states of mind become increasingly similar as they interact due to linguistic representation adaptation. Even though convergence and feedback can be described as reflecting the speakers’ attempts to improve mutual comprehension, it is still unknown whether speakers adapt their linguistic representations after an interaction, that is, whether spoken human communication has a direct influence on the content and organization of such representations. This proposal, which combines psychological and neuroscience approaches, addresses the question of whether feedback, a dialogic marker used to ensure mutual comprehension, contributes to the adaptation of linguistic representations after an interaction between two speakers. It also seeks to determine whether feedback facilitates prediction in comprehension. Two types of linguistic representations will be examined. Using behavioral and electrophysiological measures, we will focus on the conceptual level of word meaning (i.e., the semantic level) and on the level of word form (i.e., phonological level). Prediction in comprehension (i.e., predicting of what the interlocutor wants to say) is seen as a key mechanism of the adaptation of mental representations. By using cutting-edge behavioral and electrophysiological measures in the context of spontaneous dialogue settings, this project will examine both the reorganization of semantic and phonological representations after the interaction and the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon and persisting after the interaction. The consortium of the project will be coordinated by a young researcher, who works on spoken-word recognition, semantic memory and the role of prediction in spoken-language comprehension by using behavioural and electrophysiological measures. Thanks to complementary skills of the consortium at the methodological and theoretical levels, the project will be based on solid scientific knowledge about cognitive models in spoken word recognition and semantic memory. It will also integrate notions such as concept sharedness in dialogue and prediction in comprehension. This fundamental research proposes a new theoretical view of spoken language communication accounting for the adaptation of linguistic representations in the short and the long term after a dialogue and it is centered on an innovative dynamic view of spoken human communication in which linguistic representations are conceptualised as flexible. It also has direct implications for education, as learning settings are typical situations in which one person attempts to modify another person’s mental representations through communication. Thanks to the novelty and the originality of project, the findings will be presented at international conferences and journals. This project will contribute to create a European network on spoken human communication and linguistic representations in the fields of psychology, linguistics, and cognitive neuroscience.
ANR: Générique 2017
Coordinator: Samuel Delpoulle (LISIC)
Partner in lab: Laurent Madelain
Abstract: Production of photorealistic images requires to use light simulation, that highlight visual noise. This noise disappears gradually as a function of the convergence rate of the computing methods, but at a very high time cost. This drawback is particularly penalizing when computing 3D images sequences.
The first aim of the PrISE-3D project is a better understanding of the perceptual mechanisms underlying the perception of image quality through the use of various sterescopic devices with various features.
For this, search procedures of visual convergence of the light simulation algorithms will be considered in the case of relief images. These thresholds will then be used to determine the automatic stopping condition of computation in each part of the images.
The second aim of this project will be to study and develop a mixed renderer (photorealistic rendering in the focus areas of the images and real time rendering in the other areas) by using the results of the perceptual thresholds . This mixed rendered will be develop for immersive environnements and by taking into account both actions and behaviour of the user and its limited field of vision, it should be possible to provide him with high fidelity experiences.
Coordinator: Pascal Antoine
Abstract: Alzheimer Disease (AD) is a major public health issue with consequences for patients as well as for their caregivers and a high financial strain upon society. Attending a person with AD requires an ever-increasing amount of care. This is generally provided by the children or the spouse, who are indispensable to the AD patients’ well-being as they are best placed to identify their unique needs. As AD develops, patients require progressive and permanent mobilization. Researchers have therefore developed psychoeducational and cognitive support strategies to alleviate caregivers’ distress. These strategies help addressing problem solving issues, ‘burden’ and depressive symptoms with moderate effect-size, but often leave behind the positive aspects of the caregiver-patient relationship and a more generalised change of attitudes and behaviours in the context of caregiving. Moreover, considering the constraints to which caregivers can be subjected, existing supports cannot always fit with their objective availability and subjective readiness.
In this perspective, PACIC aims to first test the feasibility and then the comparative effectiveness of 3 web-based psychological interventions for caregivers of patients with AD. PACIC proposes (1) an innovative caregiving supports centred on well-being and acceptance combined with (2) a web-based and self-training approach.
The proposed program will comprise three different interventions strategies, which have already shown their potential in the framework of individualized support programmes and which still need to be tested in a web-based strategy: (1) mindfulness practice, (2) positive psychology and (3) acceptance and commitment approaches are evaluated as effective in conditions including mental health and chronic diseases. In PACIC, mindfulness exercises focus on formal meditation to limit painful ruminations. Positive psychology allows caregivers access to well-being opportunities directing their attention towards pleasurable experiences. Acceptance and commitment exercises aim to improve psychological flexibility and promote new adaptive ways of living as a caregiver.
The proposed web-based and self-training planned interventions will be easy to understand, and of short daily duration. Concrete implementation will be at participants’ discretion, enabling them to adjust to their caregiving, family, and/or professional priorities. This is important as caregivers are often forced to drop out of support groups due to unpredictable circumstances or to exhaustion. The proposed web-based strategy is meant to be complementary to existing ones. Moreover, given both social and territorial inequalities in access to supports and a growing number of caregivers, PACIC aims to address these shortcomings allowing to "enter the patient’s home" and provide daily life and relation-based support.
PACIC involves two main phases. Phase I explores the conditions of acceptability of this strategy with qualitative methods: thematic analysis of 30 interviews with caregivers on their motivations and expectations of such programmes, and focus groups with 20 professionals on their opinion on the acceptability among caregivers and their own attitude. Phase II will be devoted to the evaluation of the proposed intervention strategies. About 350 caregivers of patients with AD will be randomly assigned to 3 8-week groups and to a control one in which the usual information on the disease is provided to caregivers. The effects for each approach will be tested immediately after intervention and will be compared to pre-test. Effect persistence will be assessed with a follow-up at 6 months.
Our project should ultimately lead to a website for caregiver support and self-training based on the best exercises identified among the 3 approaches. In its final form, the website will allow to customizing the optimal exercise combination and usage patterns, and flexibly adapt commitment to the changing needs of each participant.
Coordinator: Solène Kalénine
Abstract: The project raises the general issue of the interrelations between perception, action, and cognition, which are viewed as a source of change. If the way people perceive and represent their environment depends on their own action repertoire, then changes in the action repertoire will entail modifications in the perception and representation of the environment. Research on action planning indicates that multiple action representations guide the execution of goal-directed actions and that competition between action representations affects action performance. In addition, similar processes underlie the actual execution of goal-directed actions on the one hand, and the perception of actions and the perception of manipulable objects on the other hand. Thus, we hypothesize that competition between action representations also affects object and action perception. Moreover, the recruitment and monitoring of action representations may evolve during lifespan development and change at a given age under the pressure of contextual and social factors. Consequently, the present project aims at identifying the mechanisms underlying competition between action representations during the perception of objects and object-directed actions. It further seeks to highlight the changes in perceptual processing that can be caused by developmental and contextual modifications in action processing.
The project considers a multi-level model of action representations and focus on three specific aims. Each aim combines the questions and methods of cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, and neurosciences through the complementary expertise of four young researchers situated in Northern France. The first aim is to investigate the developmental, contextual, and social changes in the evocation and monitoring of gesture-level representations during object perception. Preliminary data indicate that perception of objects associated with conflicting structural and functional gestures entails a processing cost. In three behavioral studies, we will assess how this cost evolves during life span (childhood, adulthood, elderly), and how it can be moderated by object visual presentation and social variables (e.g. power). Object perception will be examined using a recently developed paradigm in virtual reality. The second aim is to test the hierarchical organization of action representations and specify how and when gesture-level and intention-level action representations participate in action understanding. In four studies, we will identify the temporal dynamics of action decoding at the behavioral and neural levels and further assess how the visual and social contexts modify those temporal dynamics. Action pictures containing gesture or intention violations have been designed to examine this issue. The third aim is to identify the neural markers of conflict between competing action representations in perception using electroencephalography. One study will focus on the conflict between competing gestures during object perception (cf. aim 1) and a second study will focus on the conflict between incongruent gesture and intention during action perception (cf. aim 2).
At the scientific level, findings will fuel theoretical models on perception, action semantics, and embodied cognition. They will further help determining specific periods of the life span during which perception is most affected by competing action representations and identifying factors that can reduce the cost of competition between action representations. At the societal level, findings will have an important impact in the domains of education, neurological rehabilitation, and technological innovations related to image creation and diffusion.
Coordinator: Séverine Casalis
See the project website
Abstract: The APPREL2 project aims to provide an account of the learning and development of the foreign language (FL or L2) lexicon in a schooling context. This context is characterized by the fact that L1 reading acquisition in still ongoing in children and that exposure to the L2 is quantitatively low. The project draws upon theoretical models developed in cognitive psycholinguistics: first, the well-structured models of skilled visual word recognition in bilinguals (especially, the BIA and BIA+ models, Dijkstra et al, 1998; Dijkstra et al 2002); and second, the models developed to describe the process of learning to read in monolinguals (Ehri, 2014). The project aims to test a developmental version of bilingual visual word recognition, BIA-d (Grainger et al, 2010), and to extend it by integrating a phonological component. This approach will be complemented by a language-teaching perspective that aims to connect our experimental studies to classrooms situations and to situate (visual) word recognition within a broader spectrum of emerging L2 skill and knowledge. Models of L2 lexical development (DevLex, MacWhinney) will therefore also be considered. The scientific objectives are to demonstrate how L2 words are progressively integrated in the lexicon and to analyse how L1 –L2 lexical and sublexical information interacts. We will assess how L2 word processing, especially written words, evolves according to children’s age and reading level. We also will examine orthographic processing during L2 word learning. How FL lexicon development is related to reading skills will also be explored through the impact of a partial L2 school immersion on the learning of a L3. The challenge is to trace the benefits of the early learning of two languages and the mastery of two systems of grapheme to phoneme correspondences. The project is organized into four tasks. Task 1 consists of compiling a lexical database, from textbooks, reflecting English written language instruction in secondary school. Quantitative analyses will define word lexical and sublexical characteristics, which will be used to construct assessments of L2/L3 word acquisition. The written database will be completed by transcripts of lessons. The following three tasks are organized according to participant age –leading to the use of different paradigms: word learning in primary school vs. visual -and to a lesser extend spoken- word recognition in secondary school- and the L2/L3 learning context (traditional vs. after partial immersion in L2). Task 2 aims to assess L2 word recognition development in secondary school via several experiments and will focus on L1 and L2 lexical and sublexical interactions. Task 3 is designed to investigate the effects of partial L2 immersion during L3 word processing, in terms of the development of both linguistic and word recognition skills. The aim is to assess the effects of partial immersion in L2 during L3 word processing, in terms of both linguistic development and word recognition. Task 4 uses learning experiments conducted with developing reading at primary school to assess the contribution of orthographic information in L2 word memorization. Task 4 also includes experiments in immersion programs in order to locate the benefits of the immersion situation by manipulating the L2/L3 linguistic proximity of words in word learning experiments.
The project brings researchers with expertise in reading acquisition, L2 word learning, lexical databases and language teaching. The main deliverables from the project are a lexical database for L2 English words in secondary school, dissemination papers, and concrete methodological recommendations for L2 teaching. Scientific papers will be submitted to high-impact journals and conferences, and papers will be published in professional journals to reach leading players (teachers, conseillers pédagogiques, the Inspection) in foreign language teaching in primary and secondary schools.