Monday, 12 January 2015

Our Graduate Students at the Cognitive Futures Conference!

Two of our PhD students, Magdalena Antrobus and Rachel Gunn, are going to be presenting their work at the Cognitive Futures conference.

Magdalena will talk about the phenomenon of depressive realism. Here is an abstract for her talk: "I will describe the evolution of the notion of Depressive Realism, starting from its first discovery by Alloy and Abramson (1979) up to today, where it has become one of the issues investigated by Project PERFECT, at the Department of Philosophy, University of Birmingham. Alloy and Abramson first introduced the notion of Depressive Realism in 1979, when one of their experiments gave rise to a significant result: people with moderate or sub-clinical depression turned out to present a more accurate perception of their cognitive control over reality than non-depressed participants. The phenomenon, repeatedly confirmed in a series of successive experiments and nicknamed “sadder, but wiser” by its discoverers, sparked both world-wide interest and controversy, as well as inspired new trends in literature (e.g., novels by Michel Houellebecq and Susan Sontag). Throughout last three decades, researchers have tried to address the following questions: why would being depressed make people see the reality in a more objective way? What is it exactly that people with depression see more accurately? What are the costs and benefits of this cognitive inclination? My presentation will summarise the state of debate on the phenomenon of depressive realism, and identifies implications for its future study and for clinical practice."

Rachel will talk about thought insertion. Here is an abstract of her talk: "Thought insertion is a first rank symptom of schizophrenia and can be extremely debilitating and confusing. Those experiencing thought insertion have huge difficulty in describing what is happening. What can it possibly mean to say that I have first-person (subjective) access to the content of thought but deny that I generated the thought and deny that the thought is mine? By examining first person descriptions of thought insertion as well as different philosophical conceptions of the phenomenon I will show that thought insertion is characterised by a lack of ownership and it is this critical fact, not simply a loss of agency, which we need in order to inform research and therapeutic intervention. Whilst distressing for some, thought insertion alone may not be indicative of illness and it is the secondary phenomena such as content, level of influence and intrusion on other mental activities, functioning and wellbeing that determine whether psychiatric or other therapeutic help is required. Further, the first-person descriptions suggests that thought insertion may have different aetiologies and this may mean that there is more than one kind of thought insertion. It may also be the case that there is overlap between some kinds of ‘internal’ voice hearing and thought insertion. The lack of detailed descriptive phenomenology in the literature suggests the need for further empirical research in this area."

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