UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Online: Brain meeting: Professor Dominik Bach

03 April 2020, 3:15 pm–4:15 pm

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Algorithms for Survival: Towards a Computational Understanding of Threat Avoidance

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to





Justyna Ekert and Elisa van der Plas and Gabrielle Sheehan


N/A via Zoom
N/A via Zoom
N/A via Zoom
N/A via Zoom
United Kingdom

Brain meeting 


Behaving appropriately under threat is key to survival. It also poses a range of interesting computational challenges unparalleled in other domains. A suggested solution to these demands is a computing architecture that relies on a multiplicity of tailored algorithms for specific threat scenarios. However, evidence for this suggestion is circumstantial in non-humans, and scarce in humans. In my talk, I will discuss the methodological problem of investigating threat avoidance in humans, and present pharmacological, clinical lesion, and neuroimaging data to support the validity of serious computer games as a way forward. Using different games that emulate a situation of approaching reward under threat (i.e. risky foraging), I triangulate a cognitive-computational algorithm for behavioural control in this scenario. This algorithm appears to be under instrumental and partly model-based control, with approximations of different granularity used in parallel. MEG data suggest some ideas about neural implementation.

*Please note that due to the ongoing Covid-19 shutdown, the speaker and audience will convene online via Zoom*

For external attendees, if you would like to attend via Zoom, please contact ion.fil.brainmeetings@ucl.ac.uk for the details

About the Speaker

Professor Dominik Bach

at UCL