Research needs constant reappraisal

– and Neuroscience is no exception.

Many studies have reductionist bias, feeding conceptual flaws in the field such as the myth of the gendered brain. Invalid statistical methods have rendered thousands of fMRI results false. The lack of open access and publication bias has further impacted the fields’ credibility.Are we too hesitant to question the current landscape in neuroscience?

How can we ensure that the field moves in the right direction?

By involving early career researchers and fostering discussion.

Corpus Curiosum is an online lecture series catered to early career researchers and designed to stimulate critical thinking in Neuroscience.

Our Values

Our non-negotiable core-principles form the foundation of our work.

Support ECRs.

Early Career Researchers (ECRs) often face difficulties as a result of inequality and rigid structures within academia. Thus, our project offers a community and platform to network with other ECRs in a supportive environment at eye-level.

Embrace Diversity.

The research landscape is overwhelmingly shaped by research from North America, Europe and parts of East Asia. Other regions such as Africa and the rest of Asia are underrepresented. Concurrently, Academia is by no means free from intersectional inequalities involving e.g. race and gender. This is why we amplify the voices of these communities.

Be Accessible.

All our lectures are free to attend and held online, ensuring that everyone can attend from all corners of the world. In our quest to advocate for open science, we want to lead by example.

Past Series

Missed out on our last series? – we got you.

Who we are

We are a group of young neruoscientists at different stages of their career.

Inés Abalo Rodríguez

I studied Psychology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). After my bachelor, I did a master's in Neurobiology and Cognitive Neuroscience (at the UAM) and an MSc in Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition at the University of Edinburgh. So far, I have collaborated with different research projects at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Università di Padova (Italy).
I am currently doing my PhD on schizophrenia at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), thanks to the funding of la Caixa Bank Foundation.

Faissal Sharif

I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences at Maastricht University in the Netherlands with a semester abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. While working for a neurotech startup with focus on mental health , I grew interest in Neuroscience and decided to work as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Irvine, where I investigated biomarkers in Alzheimer’s Disease.
I graduated from Imperial College London with an MSc in Translational Neuroscience and am currently affiliated with the Centre for Psychedelic Research. Further, I am a the co-head for Neuroethics at the Institute for Internet & the Just Society.

Alba Sánchez-Fernández

I obtained a BSc in Biology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) before I moved to Barcelona to study for a MSc in Neuroscience at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). After that, I did my PhD in Neurobiology trying to define a new paradigm to treat multiple sclerosis, one of the main causes of physical disability.
After that, I moved to Zurich (Switzerland) to start my postdoc at the University of Zurich (UZH), where I am currently conducting my research and teaching.

Partners & Sponsors

Making all of this possible.

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Series I

June 2020

Additional Organizers:
Marta Turégano Lopez

Are mental disorders malfunctions of the brain?
Inés Abalo Rodríguez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)

What are in fact mental disorders? The problems faced in psychiatry have led researchers to reflect on the conceptualisation of mental disorders. Thus, some authors have argued for a neurocentric conceptualisation, suggesting to understand them as, precisely, brian disorders. However, this view implies some problems difficult to solve and reconcile to current data. Alternatively, behaviour analysis offers a more plausible conceptualisation: mental disorders should be understood as a product of learning processes whose long term consequences happen to be disadaptive. Is it maybe time to embrace a new perspective when doing research in this field?

Credibility in Neuroscience
Dr Verena Heise, Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg - Institute for Advanced Study

Are most published research findings false? Why should we care? And is there anything we can do about it? In this talk I will give an overview of some practical solutions such as open science and good research practices that can help make our research findings more robust. While there are a number of solutions that can be implemented by individual researchers, there are wider issues, for example around skills training and incentives, that require cultural change. To lobby for this change I am involved in a number of different initiatives and I will briefly outline current and planned activities.

Why do we need philosophy in neuroscience?
Dr Mark Miller, University of Sussex

Despite a long historical relationship between science and philosophy, scientists today tend to see philosophy as very different from, and indeed even antagonistic to, the scientific endecour. In this talk I will highlight the many ways that philosophy positively impacts scientific research today, new modes of philosophy that are science driven, and suggest new potential synergies between the fields.

Research on drugs - is it time to lift restrictions?
Dr David Erritzøe & Laura Kärtner, Imperial College London

Despite a long historical relationship between science and philosophy, scientists today tend to see philosophy as very different from, and indeed even antagonistic to, the scientific endecour. In this talk I will highlight the many ways that philosophy positively impacts scientific research today, new modes of philosophy that are science driven, and suggest new potential synergies between the fields.

Series II

November &
December 2020

Series Sponsors:
British Neuroscience Association (BNA)
Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)

Neurosexism and the Brain: How gender stereotypes can distort or even damage research
Dr Gina Rippon, Aston University

The ‘Hunt the Sex Difference’ agenda has informed brain research brain for decades, if not centuries. This talk aims to demonstrate how a fixed belief in differences between ‘male’ and ‘female’ brains can narrow and even distort the research process. This can include the questions that are asked, the methodology selected and the analytical pipeline. It can also powerfully inform the interpretation of results and the ‘spin’ used in the public communication of such research.

New neurons in the adult brain: breaking the dogma
Dr Mariela Trinchero, Fundación Instituto Leloir

The adult brain is capable of undergoing neuronal plasticity at different levels ranging from molecular changes to circuit modifications. Until the early 90s, the general rule was that the mammals’ central nervous system lacked the ability to generate new neurons upon birth. It is now clear that the hippocampus, the structure in the brain involved in learning and memory, produces dentate granule cells throughout the lifespan. Adult neurogenesis can be shaped by physical exercise, experience, aging and disease. In this talk I will give a brief overview on this extraordinary form of neuronal plasticity.

What makes a scientist?
Dr Bart Penders, Maastricht University

Science is a part of our culture, and yet in many ways it stands apart. Scientists make knowledge and strive for that knowledge to be more trustworthy, more credible and, as a consequence, more important than other knowledge. What about science and scientists enables them to do this and why is scientific knowledge dismissed from cultural, political and social debates nonetheless? In this talk, I will visit the origins of scientific credibility and its social history, and will trace it into its present form of discussions about rigour and research integrity.

Neurolaw: A New Frontier
Mikayla Dilbeck, UC San Francisco

Science is a part of our culture, and yet in many ways it stands apart. Scientists make knowledge and strive for that knowledge to be more trustworthy, more credible and, as a consequence, more important than other knowledge. What about science and scientists enables them to do this and why is scientific knowledge dismissed from cultural, political and social debates nonetheless? In this talk, I will visit the origins of scientific credibility and its social history, and will trace it into its present form of discussions about rigour and research integrity.

Series III

June 2021

Series Sponsors:
International Brain Research Organization (IBRO)
Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)
Association of Spanish Scientists in Switzerland (ACECH)

Broca and Wernicke are dead, or moving past the classic model of language neurobiology
Dr Pascale Tremblay, Université Laval

The claim that “Language is special,” and thus encapsulated in a specialized language network, has informed cognitive neuroscience research since pioneer work of researchers in the late 19 th century. This talk aims to provide a snapshot of the state of knowledge in language neurobiology with a focus on demonstrating the failure of this classical viewpoint to capture the essence of contemporary language neurobiology and demonstrate how this viewpoint, which remains dominant to this day, has contributed to maintaining a narrow empirical and theoretical research focus and to perpetuating a disconnect between common understanding of language neurobiology and the actual state of knowledge in the field.

Unboxing the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis
Yoko Wang, The University of Adelaide

Since we were born, we have shared our life with millions of tiny little buddies in our gut. These tiny little buddies, or the gut microbiota, play important roles in regulating the gut-brain axis. In recent years, research in this field has rapidly grown, increasing our understanding on how gut microbiota communicate to the brain and influence our health. In this talk, we will unbox the amazing world of the microbiota-gut-brain axis – learning about their history, the current progress and future directions.

Does your brain actually think? The mereological fallacy in neuroscience
Dr Peter Hacker, Oxford University

Mereology is the logic of part/whole relations. One kind of mereological mistake is that of misguidedly attributing properties of wholes to their parts. Some holistic properties cannot licitly be ascribed to parts: aeroplanes fly, but their engines cannot be said to fly; antique clocks keep time but their fusées cannot be said to keep time. A widespread mistake in cognitive neuroscience is to attribute to the human brain properties that can be intelligibly attributed only to the living human being as a whole. The brain is commonly held to perceive, to think, to feel emotions, and to intend to do things. These are category mistakes that lead to widespread fallacies in the reasoning of neuroscientists. The rationale of the mereological fallacy in neuroscience will be explained and objections will be refuted.

Unmasking plant intelligence through education
Dr Paco Calvo, University of Murcia

Bored of classroom-based education? Tired of getting lost and spacing out? Fed-up being stuffed with somebody else’s knowledge; the type of “knowledge” that you are simply expected to parrot the day of the exam, then wait for your grades which mean…. nothing really? Welcome to the Hippocampus-Fattening Farm, the educational system you have been raised in since Primary school, all the way into college, and beyond! My aim in this talk is to promote forms of learning based on trying o “know less” and think outside the box more. I shall illustrate how this can help propel creativity in the discussion of plant intelligence in the (neuro)cognitive sciences, robotics and AI.

Corpus Curiosum Meet-and-Greet

Series III

June 2021

Ambassadors

Turkey
Emre Cumili
Damla Cumili
Melih Dagdeviren
Kevser Aktas
Alara Su Bilgez
France
Marion Durteste
Caroline Masson
Argentina
Mariela Trinchero
Italy
Sara Mazzucato
Spain
Antonio Javier Sutil
Paula Alarcón
Marta Pérez
Pablo Martín Correa
Egypt
Mariam M Alwerdani
UK
Rachel Sellick
Sofía de la Fuente
India
Garima Saini
Brazil
Isabela Becattini

Mexico
María José Castellanos
Germany
Chao Sun
Daniel García
Ireland
David Lee
Pakistan
Sara Ishaq
Maryam Bhara
USA
Mikayla Dilbeck
Alexandra Schober
Jordan
Rahaf Naser Aldeen
Canada
Tiffany Bell
Rhiya Tomas
Deepika Dogra
Chile
Nicolás Martinez
Switzerland
Felisa Herrero
Japan
Mark Miller

Series IV

June 2022

Community Manager:
Dr Mariela Trinchero
Series Sponsors:
International Brain Research Organization (IBRO)
Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)

Curious Minds: Critical Thinking in Neuroscience

We all know what doing neuroscience feels like: you wake up early, you go to the lab, you run experiments, you analyze the data you recorded, you get frustrated because the p-value is over 0.05 and you go to sleep. The question to ask here is: are we actually able to conduct thorough, credible research when being stuck in this intense “neuroscientific hamster wheel”? Is this how you envisioned how science would be like? Challenging exactly that is one of the goals ofCorpus Curiosum, which Is why we would love to discuss this with you during this first session. Through different networking activities, we will be exploring critical topics that will be covered by the rest of the talks in this fourth edition. Through this, we want to add context to the sessions and add a holistic perspective to the series. You love our talks but always felt like you wanted more discussion and interaction? Are you keen to engage with fellow ECRs to share your concerns? Then we welcome you to our first Curious Minds Networking event!

What can we learn from tiny brains? Big lessons from organoid culture
Folu Oyefeso, Loma Linda University

The human brain is a complex network of cells with special functions to control how we interact with the world. Within the brain, these cells are grouped into areas responsible for thinking, moving, sensing, among many other things! However, it is notoriously difficult to study the human brain directly and so scientists use animal and two-dimensional cell culture models to learn more about it. Recently, trained teams of cell biologists and neuroscientists have begun to generate three-dimensional brain organoids, which are small clumps of tissue containing the same types of cells we see in the brain. These tissues can model specific brain regions (e.g. cortex) and diseases (e.g. Zika virus infection or Parkinson's disease). In this session, we'll discuss how these models have been used and how they could be used in the future.

The human brain: A philosophical and scientific perspective
Dr Javier de Felipe, Polytechnic University of Madrid

The appearance, expansion and differentiation of a highly complex multi-laminated cortex, the “neocortex” is a fundamental event during the evolution of the mammalian telencephalon. This cortical region is the most human part of the nervous system because it is the brain structure whose activity is directly related to the emergence of those capacities that distinguish humans from other mammals. Thanks to the neocortex we can perform such extraordinary and highly complex tasks as writing a book, composing a symphony or inventing the computer. Yet, what is special about the human cerebral cortex is a longstanding question in neuroscience. Fortunately, at present, there are methods that allow us to examine human brain organization and function at a level of detail similar to or even greater than that we can obtain with animal models. In this talk, I will emphasise how the application of these methods has shown that the human cerebral cortex displays clear species-specific variations in cortical microstructure and that it is likely that as more detailed studies are carried out on human cortical circuits, we will discover many more differences at the genetic, molecular, structural, and physiological levels between humans and other species. Thus, not only does the increase in size, and therefore in complexity, of our brains seem to be responsible for our higher or more abstract mental abilities but also, the specialization of our cortical circuits appears to be critical.

Black In Neuro: Challenges in research and medicine
Dr Thiago Arzua, Columbia University

Neuroscientists sit at a unique position, studying the same organ that is responsible for so much of our personalities, thoughts, and opinions. It is not surprising then, that from its origins, interpersonal and societal issues were directly linked back to neuroscience findings. What sometimes is missed is how societal norms and expectations affect the research itself. In the case of systemic racial inequalities, that gets translated into poorly designed or poorly interpreted studies that tend to serve as tools for promoting racist policies. With that in mind, this talk will explore the historical origins and the modern-day forms by which what we call neuroracism takes place. From phrenology to eugenics, to still-believed myths of Black people’s higher tolerance for pain, neuroracism is not just persistent, as it is also prevalent. Understanding how these biases are formed, and what we can do as a field to combat them is essential for a more just and equitable neuroscience.

Mental Health in Academia – Status-quo and Practical Implications for Early Career Researchers’ Wellbeing
Katharina Bögl & Sandra Naumann, Scholar Minds

Although many academics love their research and experience fulfilment from various tasks of their profession, mounting evidence suggests that working in academia might contribute to mental health problems. We at Scholar Minds, a group of early-career researchers (ECRs) of Berlin’s universities and research institutions, strive to ensure the mental health of Berlin’s early career researchers by improving the status-quo on an individual and institutional level. Based on our Scholar Minds surveys, we will first provide an overview of ECRs’ current mental health status. Secondly, we want to unravel unhelpful thoughts and habits which ultimately impact ECRs’ mental health and show how to build helpful habits to overcome challenging times.

Series IV

June 2022

Ambassadors

Ambassadors responsible for multiple regions are marked with a "*".

Africa
Reem A. Elsaadany*
Asia
Asfa Eman
Bianca Sieveritz
Deepthi Mahishi
Divya Ail
Reem A. Elsaadany*
Rumeysa Ata
North America
Maria Jose C. Montiel
South America
Nicolás Martinez

Europe
Alicia Alonso
Amaia Mimenza
Antonio Javier Sutil Jimenez
Candela González Arias
Caroline Masson
Deyan Mitev
Elizabeth Perez Thompson
Elza Rocha
Lídia Cantacorps Centellas
Marion Durteste
Melih Dagdeviren
Pablo J. Martín
Paula Alarcon de Anton
Sara Mazzucato
Simge Merve Vit
Zeynep Arslan

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