Program and schedule 

Program and schedule


Download Schedule here (pdf, state 28 May)
Download Program here (pdf, state 26 May)

Lectures and working groups

During the week there will be six lectures during morning sessions including discussions (spread over three days), and working-group sessions in the afternoons (open pdf schedule). Five senior lecturer will offer working groups of five to six participants on each specific topic. The participants can choose the group/topic beforehand (see application details)

Working group 1
Oh, did someone just say my name? When the unattended breaks into consciousness at a “Cocktail Party” (Elana Zion Golumbic)

One of the most well-known phenomena in cognitive psychology is the “Cocktail Party Effect” which describes the high likelihood to detect one’s own name and other salient sounds embedded in a presumably unattended stimulus-stream. This phenomena is the basis of Late Selection theories of attention, which propose that all stimuli – attended and unattended - are processed fully for semantic content, but only stimuli that are relevant (for the task, or personal relevance) enter consciousness. There is much behavioral evidence that the semantic meaning of unattended stimuli is indeed processed (at least to some degree), yet explicit recollection or recognition of unattended content is low, suggesting a disparity between semantic processing per se and consciousness. Studying the phenomena of unattended stimuli “breaking into consciousness” is extremely difficult from a methodological point of view. This workgroup will take on this challenge, and will attempt to design an experiment which will allow studying the degree (and limitations) of semantic processing of and consciousness to unattended stimuli.

Working group 2
How much time do we need to become conscious of a stimulus and what happens when we don’t have enough time? (Rafi Haddad)

For a stimulus to be perceived it must be sensed by the sensory organ for specific time duration. Different sensory stimuli require different time durations. While a stimulus can be too short to be consciously perceived, several studies have shown that stimuli that have not reached consciousness can still elicit detectable neural activity and can affect our behavior in surprisingly ways. These stimuli are called subliminal stimuli. Another interesting sensory perception principle is the temporal binding window. Two stimuli presented one after another are perceived as one stimulus if the time between them is short enough. For example, a 3-color wheel spins fast enough so that a new color is perceived. In this workshop, we will try to design subconscious stimuli at different sensory systems (vision, audition and olfaction) and then design experiments to understand how combining different subliminal stimuli from different modalities at different time durations and time delays effects our perception, emotion and behavior. The hypothesis is that although each of the stimuli doesn’t cross perception the combination of several subliminal stimuli might cross perception in an unexpected ways. Furthermore, since olfactory stimuli are strongly related to emotion we also hypothesis that subliminal olfactory stimuli might have strong unconscious emotional effects. The next step of this project could be to find the underling neural mechanism that can explain the behavioral results we will obtain.

Working group 3: Cancelled!

Working group 4
Real alternative possibilities: Requirements and suggestions for experiments (Michael Pauen)

Having alternative possibilities is an essential requirement for freedom and responsibility. These alternatives have to be (e.g. morally) relevant. Someone who violates a norm is responsible only if they were able to refrain from violating it. Alternatives in many free will experiments, however, tend to be irrelevant: The only alternative to pressing a button A is to press a similar button B. It will be discussed (a) what “real” alternatives are, (b) why they are indispensable and (c) how they can be operationalized without raising methodological concerns.

Working group 5
Top-down effects on perceptual decision making (Adam Zaidel)

Perception is not just a feedforward mechanism from stimulus to decision. Rather, even low level perception is affected by top-down effects such as context and priors. In this workshop we shall test top-down effects of high level cues on the perception of motion.  This will be done within the Bayesian framework. It will begin with a brief introduction to the relevant Bayesian concepts (likelihoods and priors), followed by a simple psychophysical experiment using a motion perception paradigm. In the experiment, high level cues will be used to manipulate context/priors. We will test motion perception in the different contexts using a 2-alternative forced choice task and compute psychometric functions from the recorded responses. The results will then be analyzed in light of their underlying likelihoods and priors. In the end we will be able to describe how the context and priors affected our overall perception of motion.


Every applicant may indicate three preferences when applying for the summer school. Please name your first, second and third choice. The group leaders will make the final decision about the participants.

All admitted applicants will be informed in which working group they will participate before the summer school starts so as to give them time to prepare for their specific topic (e.g. reading papers suggested by lecturers). The common thread running through all working groups is the ecological validity of the projects.


Dr Inken Dose
Tel.: +49 30 2093-1707
Fax: +49 30 2093-1802


Berlin School of Mind and Brain
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Luisenstraße 56
10117 Berlin, Germany
How to get here (link)

This page last updated on: 29 May 2015