The past, present and future of 

Neuroscience in southern Africa

Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Dr Samantha Brooks 



Working Memory for Cognitive Control in Anorexia versus Addiction: A Bayesian Brain Perspective

Kate Cockcroft


The fourth seminar in the series was held on Thursday 26th October 2017 in the cartoon room at JIAS. The presenter, Dr Samantha Brooks, then based at the University of Cape Town presented on 'Working Memory for Cognitive Control in Anorexia versus Addiction: A Bayesian Brain Perspective'.

We are living in a world that is extremely stimulating and impulse-driven. It is perhaps no coincidence that we are experiencing huge crises in terms of social unrest in South Africa and across the globe, fueled by an abundance and instant availability of food, drugs, consumer goods, sex – all appetitive processes.

This talk highlighted some of the neurobiological theory and evidence that explains how working memory enables cognitive control over appetitive processes such as eating and drug-taking. From the basis of the extremes of an impulse control spectrum model, Dr Brooks described brain imaging data from studies in anorexia nervosa versus substance use disorder to understand the neurocognitive basis of cognitive control.


Dr Brooks touched on Bayesian Brain theory, particularly related to epistemic foraging versus jumping to conclusions, to help to explain a novel training adjunct to treatment for impulse control that Dr Brooks’s team has been developing. Working memory training may harness inherent neural plasticity in brain circuits underlying impulse control.

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