International Cognitive Sciences Summer School – Iasi 23.06-28.06.2015

Program: 23 iunie 2015 | 24 iunie 2015 | 25 iunie 2015 | 26 iunie 2015 | 27 iunie 2015 | 28 iunie 2015


Chritophe Jouffrais, Ph.D. - Chargé de Recherche (CR1) – CNRS, HDR, Director LACII(IRIT-IJA Laboratory on assitive technology for the Viusally Impaired) Toulouse, Franța.


Visual Impairment Aid Systems

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimated that there are 285 million people who are visually impaired worldwide. Among them 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision. It is important to note that 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 and above. Because the world population is getting older, that number of visually impaired people will double in 25 years.

Visual impairment is diverse (central vision or peripheral vision only, blurred vision, etc.) and has different functional consequences in daily lives. A study made in Canada (Gold & Simson, 2005) reported that the most significant need areas are transportation and access to information. In addition, lack of services is associated with unemployment, dependency, isolation and limits on opportunities.

Assistive technologies are designed to assist visually impaired people in many different situations. In this presentation, we will give an overview of the different devices that have been designed in the last decades: artificial vision devices, sensory substitution devices, electronic travel aids, and electronic orientation aids. We will finally describe some projects that have been performed in the lab “Cherchons pour Voir”, Toulouse, FR.

Gold, D., & Simson, H. (2005). Identifying the needs of people in Canada who are blind or visually impaired: Preliminary results of a nation-wide study. International Congress Series, 1282, 139–142. doi:10.1016/j.ics.2005.05.055

Claire Rampon, HDR, Director of Research CNRS Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale. Head of the Team: REMEMBER revealing memory mechanisms of the Brain, Universitatea de Toulouse, Franța.


Learning and memory: how does it work? What are the functional implications of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in these processes?

The What we know defines who we are. Therefore, a fundamental question one may ask is how are memories formed, how are they encoded and stored, sometimes for a lifetime, in the brain? Although the complexity of these processes has not yet fully been unraveled, we now have a good understanding of the cerebral regions and cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie memory processes. This summer course will provide a historical review of the discoveries that let to the identification of main forms of memories, and their neuronal substrates. Plasticity mechanisms that are required for learning and memory will be presented. Going further, we will also focus on an unprecedented discovery in recent Neurosciences : adult neurogenesis. Indeed, it is now clear that new neurons are generated throughout adult life in discrete regions of the mammalian brain, including the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Some of these newborn neurons become integrated into pre-existing hippocampal circuits, raising the possibility that they may contribute to behaviorally relevant neuronal assemblies. Supporting this idea, an increasing number of reports using correlative and invasive approaches, indicates the existence of a functional link between hippocampal-dependent learning, memory and adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Using combinatory behavioral and anatomical experiments, we have established that adult-born neurons constitute a specific pool of cells destined to undergo activity-dependent plastic changes involved in the elaboration of neuronal networks underlying remote spatial memories in the healthy brain. Further discussion will investigatepathological situations, such as Alzheimer’s disease, where we will explore the idea that inability to acquire and store new information may be related to impaired adult hippocampal neurogenesis. The extent to which, manipulating adult neurogenesis might open new avenues for the treatment of neurodegenerative pathologies will be discussed.

Raphaël Jeanson, Chargé de recherches CNRS (CR1), HDR.  Research Group: Interindividual Variability and Emergent Plasticity - Research Centre on Animal Cognition - CNRS, Universitatea de Toulouse, Franța.


1 (Lecture) Self-organisation in insect societies.

Much of the impressive ecological success of social insects relies on a decentralized organisation. Through several examples borrowed from a variety of contexts (synchronization, aggregation, nest construction…), we will review and discuss the main ingredients and properties of self-organisation and their contribution to the organisation of insect societies.

2 (Practical course) Collective decision-making in ants.

In living in complex and fragmented environments, social insects have to achieve collective decisions to optimise the exploitation of the available resources. One major question is to determine how individuals that use simple behavioural rules based on local information collectively decide to exploit one resource among several options. To illustrate this aspect, we will perform simple experiments where ant colonies will face a choice between resources of different qualities in foraging or nest-moving contexts. We will identify and discuss which behavioural rules underlie the emergence of decision-making at the collective level.

3 (Lecture) From aggregation to division of labour: social transitions in arthropods

A central issue in the study of animal societies concerns the evolution of sociality. One question is to determine whether a new set of rules should be invoked at each social transition to account for the diversity of collective patterns described in animal societies or whether some generic mechanisms can contribute to a broad range of social organizations. We illustrate the central role of amplification processes on the emergence of new properties at the collective level and we will present empirical evidence indicating that division of labour, which is one property of advanced forms of sociality, can arise spontaneously in associations of solitary individuals.

John Francis Symons, Profesor of Philosophy, Chair of the Philosophy Departnent, University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA (video-conference).


1. An overview of the epistemology and metaphysics of mind

In this session I introduce some of the core themes in philosophy of mind since the 1960s. I will emphasize the role of conceivability in the central debates from the early 70s onwards.  We will consider the role of Kripke’s Naming and Necessity in the formation of the central problems that frame modern philosophy of mind.

In parallel, Jerry Fodor’s account of the systematicity of mind will also be discussed as an example of how philosophical methodology shapes philosophy of mind.

2.Biological thinking and the philosophy of mind

In this session we will explore the relationship between evidence drawn from biology and philosophical debates concerning the mind. What role if any does neuroscience play in the resolution of the core philosophical problems that we discussed in the first session.

We will begin by considering the science of vision and in particular the work of David Marr. His account of the visual system will serve as a test case for some of the broader considerations that we discussed in the first session.

What would a satisfactory naturalistic account of phenomenon like consciousness and intentionality look like? In this session we will examine the different ways that different constituencies demand explanations of mind and we will consider what kinds of explanations might satisfy a variety of philosophical dispositions. In some cases, philosophical demands are driven primarily by skepticism. Antinaturalistic skepticism can be safely dismissed for reasons we will discuss.

Alin Stelian Ciobică
Conf. Dr., Facultatea de Biologie, UAIC, Iași.


Although most of the neuropsychiatric disorders are specifically human pathologies, so it will not be possible to perfectly replicate on an animal the entire complex human symptomatology, the identification of the some altered molecular mechanisms and anatomical areas offers the possibility of developing valid animal models by using various methods of manipulation.

Also, another advantage of these models is represented by the fact that the usage of a living animal in the researches on human disorders will eventually lead to a better understanding of their mechanisms, without the risk of causing harm to a potential patient. Additionally, the selected animals (e.g. rat, mice) have a high taxonomic affinity with humans and therefore their reactions to a certain disease or treatment are physiologically similar to humans. In this way, the use of animals is based on a physiological and anatomical structural similarity between humans and animals. As suggested, the most widely used animal models of vertebrate species are mice and rats, as they are easy to obtain, maintain and handle.

As we will describe further, the assessment of these pathological conditions in animals can be done in several ways, including the manipulation or affecting the metabolism of the underlying central neurotransmitters, the usage of various behavioral tests, as well as by determining several biochemical parameters recognized as important markers for the above-mentioned disorders.

In this way, in the present report we will describe some animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and autism on rat that we are using in our lab, as well as the relevance of the oxidative stress status (the imbalance between reactive oxygen species and antioxidants) in this context, in both human patients and our specifically described animal models.

Dănuț Constantin Irimia
Dr. Ing. UTI Iași.