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BIFOLD Colloquium 4/08/2022

Decoding decision-making: a cognitive and computational investigation

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Christian Wallraven, Department of Brain and Cognitive Engineering, Korea University

Date & time: August 4, 2022, 04:00 pm

Venue: TU Berlin, MA, Stra├če des 17. Juni 136, 10623 Berlin
Room: MA 041

Abstract: Understanding how humans make decisions is arguably one of the most important topics in cognitive neuroscience. In his talk, Christian Wallraven will present a summary of his research with a focus on decision-making in risky situations. In the first set of cognitive studies, his group investigated a version of the (in)famous trolley dilemma set in a virtual-reality car-driving context. Importantly, participants in these studies did not fill out a questionnaire about their decision, as is typically done, but had to make the decision as part of a simulated accident situation that occurred all of a sudden during driving. In these situations, participants had to (suddenly) decide between endangering pedestrians or themselves by choosing a turn at a fork in the road. Given these decisions, the researchers were interested in identifying potential personality traits that would lead to a certain preference. Over several studies and hundreds of participants, they were able to determine reliable personality markers which led participants to, for example, endanger other people, chief among them the trait of psychopathy. In follow-up computational experiments, they then tried to see to what degree deep learning networks would be able to predict which turn a car would take based on videos at different times before the event. Here, they also benchmarked the networks against human predictions with the same sequences. Interestingly, the networks outperformed humans especially for earlier time points – additionally, explainability methods showed that the attentional focus of the networks for the predictions highlighted meaningful scene features. Finally, Christian Wallraven will close with a vision of a VR setup that they are prototyping, with which they want to study cognitive and brain-dynamics aspects of human decision-making in realistic, yet controlled environments.

Speaker: Christian Wallraven received a Ph.D. degree in Physics from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in 2007 for work
on a perceptually-motivated computer vision system. He moved to Korea University in 2010, where he is currently a Full Professor and the Head of the
Cognitive Systems Lab with research focusing on understanding and modeling perceptual processes, sensory integration, and decision making in both humans and machines.
He has co-authored over 200 publications with an interdisciplinary approach integrating cognitive neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and immersive computer graphics.

Prof. Dr. Christian Wallraven