Welcome to a joint seminar arranged by Stockholm Brain Institute (SBI) November 24, 2014, 13.00-16.00

Registration to Louise von Essen, louise.von.essen@ki.se BEFORE November 18.

SBI is a joint venture between Karolinska Institutet, the Royal Institute of Technology, and Stockholm University. This is the first seminar where we gather researchers from the three universities in order to spread knowledge of the different research ongoing at the three sites, stimulate discussions, and hopefully promote future collaborations between research groups.

We hope that you are able to attend and participate in this meeting and stay the whole afternoon! The seminar is followed by snacks and wine/beer.


Time: 13.00-16.00 – followed by wine/beer and snacks

Place: Hillarp, Retzius väg 8, Karolinska Institutet



13.00-13.45 – from Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet

”No evidence for the sexual selection hypothesis of the evolution of music”


Miriam Mosing, PhD,

Department of Neuroscience

Karolinska Institute



Although music is a universal feature of human culture, little is known about its origins and functions. A prominent theory of music evolution is the sexual selection hypothesis by Miller (2000), which proposes that music evolved as a signal of genetic quality to potential mates. The sexual selection hypothesis offers several empirically testable predictions. First, musically skilled and active individuals should have greater mating success than less-skilled individuals. Second, if musical ability functions as an indicator of genetic quality, it is expected to be associated with other traits putatively related to genetic quality; and third, these associations are expected to be at least partly due to overlapping genetic influences. We tested these predictions in a large genetically informative sample of Swedish twins, using musical aptitude and public music display as measures of musical ability. To assess mating success we examined number of sex-partners, age of first intercourse, sociosexuality, and number of offspring. Measures of general cognitive ability, reaction time, and height were used to investigate relationships with traits putatively related to genetic quality. In contrast to predictions, the majority of phenotypic associations between musical ability and mating success were non-significant or significant in the other direction, with those with greater musical ability scoring lower on the measures of mating success. All genetic correlations were non-significant. Further, while we found significant correlations between musical aptitude and other traits putatively related to genetic quality, including general intelligence, reaction time, and, in males, height, only the association with general intelligence was driven by overlapping genetic influences. Our findings provide little support for a role of sexual selection in the evolution of musical ability. Alternative explanations and limitations will be discussed


14.00-14.45 – from KTH Royal Institute of Technology

“Reverse Engineering our Memory System.  Biologically plausible and mechanistically interesting aspects of declarative memory modelling across brain areas and time.”


Florian Fiebig, PhD. student,

Lansner Lab, Department of Computational Biology,

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)



I will outline of our current understanding of the human declarative memory system and will address the presumed roles of several brain structures involved in memory consolidation (prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and its various substructures, as well as neocortex) while focusing specifically on the temporal aspect: How can we learn and forget on the scale of seconds while also retaining some memories after decades? What are the presumed neural mechanisms for consolidation of memory and how can we model these in artificial neural networks? How do we think about the neural coding of memory and the role of sleep in memory consolidation? And what does all of this have to do with applied memory techniques and learning strategies we use as academics all the time?

I will present my recently published modelling work on a three-stage complementary learning system with a mechanism for autonomous consolidation using Bayesian Confidence Propagation Neural Networks [1]. Memory Consolidation in such a model can be favorable compared to experimental data via simulated lesioning experiments and memory modulating agents (such as Benzodiazepines, Ethanol or other plasticity regulators), as well as observations of memory reactivations during slow-wave-sleep.  I will quickly present where this line of research might go with the dawn of advanced neuromorphic hardware, robotic implementation and hope to leave some space for discussion afterwards.

[1] Fiebig, F., & Lansner, A. (2014). Memory consolidation from seconds to weeks: A three-stage neural network model with autonomous reinstatement dynamics. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 8, 64.


15.00- 15.45 from Stockholm University

“Research issues on early language acquisition and its impact on brain function”.


Prof Francisco Lacerda

Department of Linguistics

Stockholm University



This short presentation addresses some general aspects of language acquisition early in life – with particular focus on the information processing required to handle the linguistic information available in the infant’s ambient language – and how language experience can be expected to affect the representation of linguistic information in the infant’s brain.



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