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Colloquia occur: Selected Mondays at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm - Room PY 101.
Colloquia titles will be posted as they become available.
Organizer: Rob Goldstone
Feb 4, 2013: Edouard Machery
Title: Doing Without Concepts
Abstract: In Doing without Concepts (OUP, 2009), I argued that the class of concepts does not form a natural kind and that psychologists should get rid of the notion of concept and stop theorizing about concepts. In this talk, I will review the key features of this argument and respond to the objections that have been raised against it.
Feb 18, 2013: Marlene Behrmann
Title: Q733 Colloquium
Mar 16, 2013: Amy Needham
Title: Perceptual-Motor Learning in Infancy
Abstract: The first two years of life are marked by profound, rapid changes in human behavior and abilities. Much remains to be understood about these developments, including how infants’ developing motor skills enable and constrain their learning about objects. One important form of object interactions we see evidence for early in life is tool use. As soon as infants begin taking control of tools, they can use them in instrumental ways to help them accomplish certain tasks. In this talk I will describe research that investigates the question of how infants’ experiences using objects to act on other objects facilitates various aspects of their object exploration, object knowledge, and object-directed action. These findings show evidence for multiple factors influencing the development of infants’ behavior and abilities, including their own motivation to accomplish certain activities and their tendency to notice the consequences of their own actions.
Mar 25, 2013: Ken Koedinger
Title: Using Big Data to Develop Cognitive Models of Transfer of Academic Learning
Abstract: Widely used educational technologies provide a real-world laboratory for experimentation on fundamental questions of cognitive science. One of those questions is the nature and extent of transfer of learning which goes back at least to debates between a Gestalt faculty theory of mind versus a Behaviorist theory of identical elements. The crux of the question is what is the unit of transfer: Empirically, what is the scope of tasks across which instruction on one improves performance on others, and theoretically, what is the nature of the mental representation(s) and the process of change in them that produces this improvement? We use statistical models of changes in student performance within education technologies across a wide variety of domains to address the empirical side of the question and a computational architecture for simulating student learning (SimStudent) to address the theoretical side of the question. This work is grounded in the KLI Framework, which we published last July in Cognitive Science.
Apr 1, 2013: Mary Hegarty
Title: Q733 Colloquium
Apr 8, 2013: Bertram Malle
Title: The Manifold of Social Inferences: The Ease and Speed of Judging Intentionality, Mind, and Morality
Abstract: In making sense of human behavior, people connect the observed with the unobserved—they find meaning in behavior by inferring mental states. This ability is essential for succeeding in the social world. Without mental state inferences, observed behaviors look indistinct, future behaviors are difficult to predict, and communicating with others becomes utterly perplexing. But mental states are only one object of social inference: People also examine behaviors for whether they are intentional or not, assess the actor’s age, gender, and personality, and assign praise or blame. Thus, social cognition includes many types of inference—broadly, about intentionality, mind, and morality. I introduce an experimental paradigm that allows the simultaneous study of these multiple social inferences and probes their relative ease, speed, and mutual interference. Instead of verbal stimulus sentences, as is common, video recorded human behaviors serve as realistic dynamic stimuli. Our first studies using this paradigm suggest a hierarchy of social inference. Inferences of intentionality and desires are the easiest and fastest, followed by inferences of beliefs, whereas inferences of personality are the hardest and slowest. Our recent studies have examined emotion inferences, inferences of praise and blame, and inferences about group agents, not just individual agents. I close with some deliberations about what cognitive machinery could possibly do all this complex inferential work.
Apr 15, 2013: Melanie Mitchell
Title: Using Analogy to Discover the Meaning of Images
Abstract: Enabling computers to understand images remains one of the hardest open problems in artificial intelligence. No machine vision system comes close to matching human ability at identifying the contents of images or visual scenes or at recognizing similarity between different scenes, even though such abilities pervade human cognition. In this talk I will describe research on bridging the gap between low-level perception and higher-level image understanding by integrating a cognitive model of pattern recognition and analogy-making with a neural model of the visual cortex.
Apr 22, 2013: Morten Christiansen
Title: Language as Shaped by the Brain
Abstract: Why is language the way it is, and how did it come to be that way? In this talk, I argue that traditional notions of universal grammar as a biological endowment of abstract linguistic constraints can be ruled out on evolutionary grounds. Instead, the fit between the mechanisms employed for language and the way in which language is acquired and used can be explained by processes of cultural evolution shaped by the human brain. On this account, language evolved by piggy-backing on pre-existing neural mechanisms, constrained by socio-pragmatic considerations, the nature of our thought processes, perceptuo-motor factors, and cognitive limitations on learning, memory and processing. Using computational, behavioral, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging methods, I then explore how one of these constraints -- the ability to learn and process sequentially presented information -- may have played an important role in shaping language through cultural evolution. I conclude by drawing out the implications of this viewpoint for understanding the problem of language acquisition, which is cast in a new, and much more tractable, form.