Feindel Virtual Brain and Mind Lecture Series: The Universe Within: A Window into Wandering and Sticky Minds


Dr. Jessica Andrews-Hanna presents, "The Universe Within: A Window into Wandering and Sticky Minds".

Register via Eventbrite.

Livestreaming via Vimeo.

Speaker: Jessica Andrews-Hanna, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology, University of Arizona

Cognitive Science, University of Arizona

Abstract: A remarkable characteristic of the human mind is its propensity to form thoughts and images that stretch beyond what is currently available to the senses. This capacity for imaginative cognition is undoubtedly adaptive, allowing us to construct mental models of possible futures, navigate our social world, and provide meaning to our lives. At the same time, however, imaginative thought can become a considerable source of distress, especially in “task-free” contexts that offer little external stimulation. Recent years have seen an explosion of research into the neural underpinnings and phenomenological correlates of imagination, yet little is known about how imaginative thoughts unfold and transition over time. In this talk, I will attempt to overcome these gaps in our knowledge of imagination by 1) introducing a neurocognitive framework with which to understand the stability, flexibility and form of our mental lives, and 2) describing an ongoing line of research seeking to illuminate the dynamics of thought, with important implications for mental health.

Bio: Jessica Andrews-Hanna is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona with dual appointments in the Department of Psychology and the Cognitive Science Program. A Cognitive Neuroscientist by training, she completed her Masters in Neuroscience in 2006 at Washington University in St. Louis and her Ph.D. in Psychology in 2009 at Harvard University. She then relocated to University of Colorado Boulder for a postdoctoral fellowship. At the University of Arizona, Dr. Andrews-Hanna directs the Neuroscience of Emotion and Thought (NET) Laboratory, where her research is centered on understanding the mystery of human imagination – the thoughts, ideas, memories, and emotions that make use unique as individuals. She is passionate about characterizing how the imaginative brain changes across the lifespan and in mental illness, with an ultimate goal of developing interventions to help people harness the beneficial aspects of imagination and live happier, healthier lives. Jessica has authored over 60 research publications in the field’s top journals, including Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Neuron, Annals of the New York Academy of Science, and JAMA Psychiatry. She has active research grants from the National Institute of Aging, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Canadian Institute of Health Research, and the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium.

The Feindel Virtual Brain and Mind (VBM) Seminar Series will advance the vision of Dr. William Feindel (1918–2014), Former Director of the Neuro (1972–1984), to constantly bridge the clinical and research realms. The talks will highlight the latest advances and discoveries in neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroimaging.

Speakers will include scientists from across The Neuro, as well as colleagues and collaborators locally and from around the world. The series is intended to provide a virtual forum for scientists and trainees to continue to foster interdisciplinary exchanges on the mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of brain and cognitive disorders.

Contact Information

Sasha Kelly
Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital
sasha.kelly [at] mcgill.ca
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