Keynote Speakers



Nansook Park, PhD, NCSP

Professor, Department of Psychology

Director, Michigan Positive Psychology Center

University of Michigan 

Ann Arbor, MI

How to build and strengthen resilience: Lessons from cognitive and brain sciences

Experiences of adversity, from minor hassles in everyday life to catastrophic occurrences, are virtually inevitable, but suffering in its wake need not be. Although few people are invulnerable, most are resilient. Following adversity, people are distressed, but most return to the state of relatively healthy functioning they showed before the adversity and some even grow from it. The ultimate goal for anyone, even those who have been traumatized, is to live a happy and fulfilling life, which entails more than relief from suffering or the absence of symptoms. Such a life requires additional skills and conditions. Rather than seeing interventions as attempts to rebuild broken individuals, we should see them as attempts to capitalize on people’s strengths and assets to speed their recovery and to build a thriving life. The new perspective of positive psychology provides an overall point of view about how people deal with adversity and how they can be helped in the face of difficult life experiences.  This lecture will present research findings from the field of positive psychology and cognitive and brain sciences, and introduce practical strategies to increase one’s capacity for resilience and well-being in the face of challenges and setbacks in people’s lives.

Short Biography

Nansook Park is a professor of psychology and a director of the Michigan Positive Psychology Center at the University of Michigan. She is a world-leading expert on positive psychology. Her research focuses on human strengths and virtues and the promotion of positive development and well-being across the life-span. Her expertise includes character strengths and virtues, resiliency, life meaning and purpose, positive relationships, and strength-based practice. She played a major role in the Positive Education project in Australia, Positive Youth Development project at Annenberg Foundation, Positive Health project at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Soldier Resilience and Growth Project with the US Army. She has been invited as a leading scholar to the Science and Ethics for Happiness and Well-being (SEH) Project meeting led by the Pontifical Academies in Vatican City and the UN. Ms Park has received several awards and honors, including the 2015 Christopher Peterson Gold Medal Award (International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA)’s highest honor), a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, the Fellow Awards (International Positive Psychology Association & Association for Psychological Science), the Academic Excellence Award (Ministry of Education & Beijing Institute of Education, China), and a Templeton Research Fellow at the Positive Psychology Center of the University of Pennsylvania. She has over 120 scholarly publications and has given more than 100 invited lectures in 22 nations. She is a member of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) Council of Advisors and serves as a consulting editor for The Journal of Positive Psychology.



Professor Werner Sommer 

Professor of Biological Psychology and Psychophysiology

Institute for Psychology of the Humboldt University of Berlin

Associate member of the Center for Nonlinear studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University

The psychology of sustainable eating

For many years, there have been calls to change our eating habits because of the obesity epidemic but, unfortunately without much success. More recently, these calls have become even more urgent because of global warming, asking us to eat more vegetables and fruit and less meat and sweets. In his talk, Professor Sommer will focus on possible venues for accomplishing these changes by altering taste preferences, which can start already before birth. He will also present some of his own research about the determinants of food valuation “in the wild” of a top gastronomy restaurant and he will discuss a recent neurocognitive experiment that attempted to shift taste preferences towards vegetables and fruit by means of post-hypnotic instructions.

Short Biography

Dr. Werner Sommer is a Professor of Biological Psychology and Psychophysiology at the Institute for Psychology of the Humboldt University of Berlin. He earned his doctoral degree (Dr. rer. soc.) from the University of Konstanz in 1982, where he was also habilitated in 1991. From 1996 to 1998 he was the Head of the Department of Psychology at the Humboldt University of Berlin, and from 2007 to 2010 he led the Interdisciplinary research center for conflicts in intelligent systems. Professor Sommer also taught at South China Normal University as a visiting professor, and since 2012 he has been an associate member of the Center for Nonlinear studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University. His diverse scientific interests have ranged from cognitive control and face processing, individual differences in socio-emotional processes and language, to eating. In his research, he has used a variety of methodological approaches: EEG/ERP, EMG, endocrinological and genetic analyses, and behavioral measurements. During his illustrious career, Dr. Sommer has published more than 220 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 20 peer-reviewed book chapters, and has been cited more than 9 000 times.



Professor Manfred Spitzer

Professor Manfred Spitzer

Neuroscientist, psychiatrist and psychologist

Medical Director of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Ulm

The Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Ulm

Founder of the Ulm Transfer Centre for Neuroscience and Learning

How new technologies affect our lives and lives of our children

Digital information technology (IT) in general, and the smartphone in particular, has conquered the globe at an unprecedented scale. With about 5 billion users, the smartphone is the most widely used digital device and also the device on which the most time is spent by the average individual user. In the US, the daily screen time in adolescents is 9 hours per day on average. Smartphones interfere with normal neurobiological, psychosocial, and physical development and thereby produce detrimental effects on health, especially in children and adolescents. Health risks include myopia, weight gain and obesity, musculoskeletal disorders, sleeplessness, hypertension, type-II diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, anxiety, depression, irritability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), addiction (to some aspects of digital IT as well as to alcohol and nicotine), dementia, and high risk behaviors regarding traffic (accidents) and sex (sexually transmitted diseases). In an educational setting, digital screen media are distracting and interfere with learning, as many studies have shown. The often-claimed beneficial effects, in contrast, have not been empirically demonstrated. On the level of society, smartphones cause decreased interest in, and time spent in and with, nature; increased loneliness; decreased empathy, perspective-taking, and solidarity; a decreased level of trust; increased radicalization and spread of fake-news; increased personality profiling, loss of privacy – and a large scale manipulation of citizens; the erosion of basic principles that form the pillars of our democratic society. Taken together, these findings imply that we should approach smartphone-use in youth with more caution, and in particular, must prevent the damaging effects on health and education of our next generation(s) on our society. We are ill-advised if we trade the health and the well-being (that comes with a good education) of the next generation for mere convenience, and it is irresponsible to put all of us in danger for the profit of the richest companies on Earth.

Short Biography

Professor Manfred Spitzer, a renowned German neuroscientist, psychiatrist and psychologist, studied at the University of Freiburg. From 1990 to 1997 he worked as a senior physician at the Heidelberg Psychiatric University Hospital. Since 1997 he has been the Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Ulm, where he founded the Ulm Transfer Centre for Neuroscience and Learning in 2004.
He taught at some of the world’s largest universities, including Harvard, Heidelberg, Oregon, and many others.
He has authored numerous professional and scientific papers, and books in the field of neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, learning and child development, including the book Digitale Demenz: Wie wir uns und unsere Kinder um den Verstand bringen in which, based on scientific findings, he discusses consequences which the time spent in front of digital media screens can have on a developing brain.

He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Duphar Research Award of the German Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology, the Cogito Award, and the Margrit Egner Award by the foundation with the same title. Professor Spitzer will give an invited lecture entitled “How new technologies affect our lives and lives of our children” which will also serve as an introduction to a round table of experts from various fields.



Ksenija Marinković

Professor Ksenija Marinković

Associate Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University, USA

Adjunct Associate Professor of Radiology, University of California San Diego, USA

Director of the Spatio-Temporal Brain Imaging Laboratory, San Diego State University, USA

Brains ‘N’ Booze: Acute Cognitive Neurodynamics and Neuroadaptation to Heavy use

Alcohol is a widely available and socially accepted beverage so many use it as a social lubricant to break the ice of awkwardness, to unwind, and to enjoy food and company. However, alcohol also interferes with the ability to evaluate situational demands and inhibits maladaptive responses. In a series of studies, we have used complementary imaging methods to examine where and when alcohol changes brain activity during decision-making. Moderate intoxication severely impairs the executive neural network, presumably leading to poor self-control and consequent inability to refrain from more drinking. Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance with high-intensity binge drinking on the rise, especially among young adults. Even in the absence of behavioral deficits, we have found significant neuroadaptive changes in young binge drinkers across different neurofunctional domains. These neural changes may signify early steps toward compulsive problem drinking.

Short Biography

Ksenija Marinković, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University (SDSU) and Adjunct Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), and is a core member faculty at the Center for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience at San Diego State University.
She is a cognitive neurophysiologist experienced in multimodal imaging methods including magneto- and electroencephalography (MEG/EEG), functional and structural MRI, and psychophysiological measures of autonomic functions.
Together with the members of her Spatio-Temporal Brain Imaging Laboratory, she investigates the neural circuits underlying cognitive and emotional functions. For example, what happens, where and when in the brain, as we try to recognize a face, understand a word, or make a decision. Of her particular interest are the effects of alcohol intoxication on self-regulatory functions, as well as neuroadaptive changes associated with binge drinking. She also collaborates on projects focusing on fibromyalgia syndrome and autism spectrum disorder.


15th May 2019

Call for abstracts open

15th September 2019

5th October 2019

Abstract submission deadline

20th October 2019

Notification of abstract acceptance

1st November 2019

Call for manuscript submission

1st December 2019

Final programme of the conference

1st February 2020

1st March 2020

Manuscript submission deadline