Cendra Agulhon

Other Organizers

Louise Kirsch
Laurianne Cabrera



Conference room R229
Campus Saint Germain des Prés de l'Université de Paris, 45 rue des Saints Pères, Paris 6e


06 Nov 2023


11 h 00 min - 12 h 00 min


INCC Seminar Series

Computing our sense of control, by Dr Daniel Yon

Computing our sense of control

Human beings are agents, and through our actions we can shape the world around us. But to interact with our surroundings, agents like us need to discover the causal structure of the environments we inhabit – learning what we can and cannot control.

This sense of control is a key part of our normal mental life, and disruptions in this sense are characteristic of numerous psychiatric illnesses – including psychosis and depression. But it has been difficult so far for psychologists and neuroscientists to characterise the computations our brains actually perform to construct feelings of agency, and how those computations might go awry.

In this talk, I will describe a new approach we have developed in the lab for measuring and modelling the sense of control – inspired by psychophysical tools and techniques from perceptual decision making. This approach offers a new perspective on ‘illusions of control’, reveals how communicating with other people influences our perception of our own agency and suggests new connections between the sense of agency and psychiatric symptoms across a range of diagnoses. Thus, this approach may get us closer to characterising the computations performed in the mind and brain as we try to infer what lays within and beyond our personal sphere of control. 

Short Biography
Dr Daniel Yon is an experimental psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist. He studied Psychology at Oxford before moving to Birkbeck, University of London for his PhD – which he received in 2018. Since 2021 he has been a member of faculty at Birkbeck, where he directs The Uncertainty Lab. Research in his lab combines tools from psychology and neuroscience to understand how our brains build models of ourselves and the world around us – and how these models shape perception, action and belief. For the academic year 2023-24, Daniel is a Visiting Fellow at l’Institut d’études avancées de Paris, working on new theoretical ideas about how uncertainty works in the brain. 

Relevant papers:
Yon, Bunce & Press (2020). Illusions of control without delusions of grandeur. [link]
Blackburne, Frith  & Yon (2023). Communicated priors retune the perception of control. [link]

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