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Scientific conference Tutored Seminar

NeuroSchool seminar: Elizabeth Torres

Measuring human agency as a balance between autonomy and control

On Friday, 27 October 2023, the NeuroSchool PhD Program will invite Elizabeth Torres in INT, Campus Timone, to give a seminar on the Measuring human agency as a balance between autonomy and control

Elizabeth Torres leads the Sensory Motor Integration Lab and the New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence.

As altricial mammals, humans require a long time to mature and independently, without the help of another human, match their mental intent to their own self-generated physical actions, under volitional control. At birth, most vital motions for survival autonomously work through a series of central patterns generators, reflexes and spontaneous motions that help the nascent brain sample the periphery and build spatio-temporal representations for self-referencing, and bottom-up self-emerging physical entrainment, synergistically simplifying the problem of coordination and top-down control of the nervous systems biorhythms by the developing brain. From breathing patterns to feeding/excreting motions, neonates survive and go on to thrive and develop coordinated and synergistic patterns, flexibly recruiting and releasing the vast number of bodily degrees of freedom, and eventually doing so in a highly controlled manner that dynamically distinguishes between deliberate, intended, and incidental, spontaneous movements. The development of top-down predictive maps then transitions the human infant through notable milestones of motor control, and motor learning, following ontogenetically orderly power (scaling) laws connecting growth, neuromotor-development, and various cognitive abilities. This feat to autonomously control self-generated actions, to accurately predict their consequences and to develop a sense of action ownership, while generalizing them across different contexts, creates a well-balanced sense of agency that intrinsically rewards the human and encourages social exchange. As the bodily biorhythms are highly variable and particular to each human, then extending the coordination and control of one’s own body to those of others, and physically entraining with them in a social scene to communicate, is then a tangible goal of the system, and one that when successfully attained, leads to co-adaptation of the individual with the other societal members. It is in this sense that well-being can emerge and be supported throughout one’s social existence.

My talk shows new dynamic-driven statistical learning and general differential geometric methods with theoretical concepts amenable to precisely quantify these notions as law-like cognitive invariants across the human lifespan. I include examples of their disruptions in neurodevelopment and neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. Finally, I will show examples of converting these basic-science concepts into actionable, scalable science by embedding our US and EU patented inventions in commercially available means.

Friday, 27 October, INT Campus Timone, Salle Gastaut

The schedule is as follows:

  • 1:30 pm – Discussion among students to discuss the papers  – For PhD students only  – salle Vinay, INT R+
  • 2:30 pm – Seminar – Open to all – Salle Gastaut
  • 3:30 pm – Special discussion time with the speaker – For PhD students only – salle Vinay, INT R+1

📢 PhD students: register on AMETICE and remember to sign the presence sheet in order for your hours to be counted. Attendants get 3 hours, chairpersons 4 hours.


Have your AMU card with you to access the site.


Any thoughts ?