Journal Club at the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making

Junior research fellow Marco Colosio spoke to The HSE Look about the Journal Club on cognitive neuroscience and neuroeconimics at the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making.
Discussing research, whether it’s your own work or someone else’s project, is a big part of academic life. International professors, postdocs and students are often those who initiate and take an active part in these discussions at HSE. Marco Colosio, a PhD student at the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making heads the Journal Club where researchers, graduate and undergraduate students present and critique recent publications in cognitive neuroscience and neuroeconomics literature. “Our goal is to have a comfortable atmosphere in which everyone can openly share ideas and learn from each other”, announced the club’s moderator in an email last year. Marco Colosio shared his thoughts on running the Journal Club with The HSE Look.

Marco Colosio, PhD student and junior research fellow at the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making

Making It Happen

The Journal Club was initiated by the supervisors at the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making. The idea was to meet regularly and discuss recent groundbreaking papers on the subject of cognitive neruoscience which had been published in scientific journals. So there are about 10 – 15 people who meet every Wednesday, including PhD students and supervisors. Additionally, we are also actively engaging master’s students. At each meeting one speaker briefly presents a paper published recently in a peer-reviewed journal and then the paper is discussed and criticized by the participants.

Journals and Papers

We aim to discuss fresh papers from high ranked journals, where the contents have a strong relevance for everybody involved. Yet, both in psychology and other branches of science it often is the case that a journal that is not considered to be the leading one in the field still features articles that analyze a good collection of data. This is why we pay attention not only to the top journals in our field but try more or less to monitor everything that is published on Cognitive Neuroscience. Sometimes it is not an easy task to pick a paper for the meeting as our group is strongly multidisciplinary (with a strong component of biologists and psychologists) and the paper that is being presented needs to be relevant for everybody at the meeting. We are also careful to not exclude participants from other disciplines. For example, we recently had a speaker from the Faculty of Mathematics and she discussed a paper on genetics. There is also close collaboration with economists, as we discuss neuroeconomics a lot.

Finding Something In Common

When we have our meetings with economists we choose fields where our interests intersect and try to discuss results that are relevant for all of us. For example, at the moment I am very interested in identity economics, which tries to explain how economic choices are made based on your identity. For example, why people donate to charity: to be perceived by society as a good person, to be perceived by themselves as a good person or is it pure altruism? This is a very hot topic now in neuroeconomics.  In this case working in tandem is very beneficial – you excel in your area and you integrate this knowledge with the knowledge of an expert from another field. Since two heads are better than one, this is probably the best approach you can use to find a satisfying solution.

Why Participating?

I can name at least three things that a participant of our club benefits from: first, our meetings facilitate the review of specific research studies and allow you to be updated about the latest research trends in cognitive neuroscience. Second, one learns to critique and appraise research. And third, you exchange ideas with your colleagues and students during the discussions.

Marco Colosio comes from Italy, where he received a Master’s degree in experimental Psychology and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Padua (Italy). During his studies Colosio did a research internship at Ruhr University Bochum (Germany), where he investigated the neural mechanisms of reward processing in active and observational learning. Since August 2014 Colosio has been a PhD student at the HSE School of Psychology. Colosio is currently working on a project concerning the neural basis of cognitive dissonance and its modulation. His interests also include pure neuroeconomics - economical sides of behavior, brain activity and economic decision making.  In Moscow he enjoys the rich cultural opportunities offered by the city and its hectic rhythm, although sometimes he misses both the tranquility and the delicious wines from his native region of Italy.

The full text of the issue can be found in  The HSE LooK 2 (19), Feb. 2015.  If you are not on our regular mailing list yet, please subscribe and get fresh issues of our  bulletin every month!