Events

CogSci Colloquium: Iris Berent on 9/25

The Cognitive Science Colloquium Series is proud to present Iris Berent, Ph.D.

 Professor in the Department of Psychology at Northeastern University

Friday, September 25th, 4pm, virtually via Zoom 

Meeting ID: 952 8581 2000
Passcode: R9EXuC
 

Dr. Berent will provide a talk entitled How we reason about innateness”

Abstract: Few questions in science are as controversial as the origins of knowledge.  Whether ideas (propositional attitudes, e.g., “objects are cohesive”) are innate or acquired has been debated for centuries. Here, I ask whether our difficulties with innate ideas could be grounded in human cognition itself. 

I first demonstrate that people are systematically biased against the possibility that ideas are innate. They consider epistemic traits (specifically, ideas, as opposed to horizontal faculties, such as attention) as less likely to be innate compared to non-epistemic traits (sensorimotor or emotive)— those of humans, birds and aliens, and they maintain this belief despite explicit evidence suggesting that the traits in question are in fact innate. 

I next move to trace this bias to the collision between two principles of core cognition—Dualism and Essentialism. Dualism (Bloom, 2004) renders ideas immaterial; per Essentialism, the innate essence of living things must be material (Newman & Keil, 2008). It thus follows that epistemic traits cannot be innate. A second series of experiments tests these predictions. 

These results show for the first time that people are selectively biased in reasoning about the origins of innate ideas. While these findings from adults cannot ascertain the origins of these biases, they do open up the possibility that our resistance to innate ideas could be in our nature. 

I conclude by briefly considering how the dissonance between Dualism and Essentialism can further account for a wide range of other phenomena, from why we are seduced by neuroscience to why we fear the takeover of humanity by AI, and what we think happens when we die. 

 

Please join Iris for a virtual happy hour (open to all) @ 6 PM via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/8587400098?pwd=YmszU2h2UmxNZGJpM1ZMMGZ2c1cvQT09

Open meeting w/ all graduate students @1:30 – 2:00 PM via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/8587400098?pwd=YmszU2h2UmxNZGJpM1ZMMGZ2c1cvQT09

CogSci Colloquium Series: Iris Berent on 9/25

The Cognitive Science Colloquium Series is proud to present Iris Berent, Ph.D.

 Professor in the Department of Psychology at Northeastern University

Friday, September 25th, 4pm, virtually on Zoom (details to come)

Dr. Berent will provide a talk entitled How we reason about innateness”

Abstract: Few questions in science are as controversial as the origins of knowledge.  Whether ideas (propositional attitudes, e.g., “objects are cohesive”) are innate or acquired has been debated for centuries. Here, I ask whether our difficulties with innate ideas could be grounded in human cognition itself. 

I first demonstrate that people are systematically biased against the possibility that ideas are innate. They consider epistemic traits (specifically, ideas, as opposed to horizontal faculties, such as attention) as less likely to be innate compared to non-epistemic traits (sensorimotor or emotive)— those of humans, birds and aliens, and they maintain this belief despite explicit evidence suggesting that the traits in question are in fact innate. 

I next move to trace this bias to the collision between two principles of core cognition—Dualism and Essentialism. Dualism (Bloom, 2004) renders ideas immaterial; per Essentialism, the innate essence of living things must be material (Newman & Keil, 2008). It thus follows that epistemic traits cannot be innate. A second series of experiments tests these predictions. 

These results show for the first time that people are selectively biased in reasoning about the origins of innate ideas. While these findings from adults cannot ascertain the origins of these biases, they do open up the possibility that our resistance to innate ideas could be in our nature. 

I conclude by briefly considering how the dissonance between Dualism and Essentialism can further account for a wide range of other phenomena, from why we are seduced by neuroscience to why we fear the takeover of humanity by AI, and what we think happens when we die. 

 If you are interested in meeting virtually with Dr. Berent during the day on Friday, please contact Dr. Theodore: rachel.theodore@uconn.edu 

IBACS Meet & Speak Registration

Dear Research Community,

The CT Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBACS) invites you to our annual Meet and Speak” event on Saturday, March 28th. This year, we hope to showcase more of the interdisciplinary work that our affiliates do, so in addition to having our recent seed recipients to speak, we have asked some specific faculty affiliates from various disciplines to speak as well. These faculty will give up to 10-minute presentations describing, in accessible language, the research they have carried out, or propose carrying out in relation to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Graduate students affiliated with the Institute will be providing short “datablitz” style presentations about their involvement in IBACS seed-funded or fellowship-supported research. Following the graduate student blitz, there will be a panel discussion to commemorate our 5-year anniversary. The panel will discuss questions such as the following: What does brain science/cognitive science mean to you? What are the challenges to progress that particularly excite you? What are the opportunities for progress? Where is brain science/cognitive science heading, or where should it head?  
 
We are excited to announce that following the panel discussion, we shall have a keynote by Dr. John Gabrieli, MIT. According to Google Scholar, he is in the top 10 most cited individuals in Cognitive Neuroscience. His talk is entitled “Environmental Influences on Human Brain Development”. More information about Dr. Gabrieli is below.
All sessions will be held in Oak Hall 101 from 9:00am until about 4:00pm. The full program is available on our website

This event will provide an opportunity to learn more about the diverse research that IBACS affiliates are engaged in, and will provide a forum for cross-disciplinary networking. Light breakfast, lunch and afternoon refreshments will be provided.
 
We hope you can join us on March 28th to celebrate our 5-year anniversary!


If you are interested in attending all or part of this event, please register by Friday, March 20th
 
About John Gabrieli:

Bio: John Gabrieli is the director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute. He is an investigator at the McGovern Institute, with faculty appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, where he holds the Grover Hermann Professorship. He also has appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is the director of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative. Prior to joining MIT in 2005, he spent 14 years at Stanford University in the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences Program. He received a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a BA in English from Yale University.
Talk title: Environmental Influences on Human Brain Development
 
Abstract: Neuroimaging provides new views on how environmental factors influence human brain development.  I will review findings about associations (1) among family socioeconomic status (SES), brain anatomy, and academic performance; (2) between early language experience and brain function and structure; and (3) between stress and brain function and how those can be altered by mindfulness training.

Expression, Language, and Music (ELM) Conference, May 13-15, 2020

Dear All,

We’re very pleased to announce a Call for Papers for ECOM’s new biennial conference Expression, Language, and Music (ELM) Conference, May 13-15, 2020 (to be held at the Lyceum Center, HartfordCT). The abstract submission deadline is December 9, 2019.

 

The conference will bring together researchers from linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, music theory, dance theory, anthropology, and neurobiology with the aim of integrating recent findings and insights from diverse perspectives concerning the significance of expression in music, dance, and language, the importance of systematic structure in these domains, and the interrelations between expressive, musical, and communicative capacities and their relevance for understanding the emergence of language (in ontogeny and phylogeny). 

 

Our invited speakers are:

·         Tecumseh Fitch (Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna)

·         Kathleen Higgins (Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin)

·         Ray Jackendoff (Linguistics, Tufts University)

·         Jerrold Levinson (Philosophy, University of Maryland)

·         Elizabeth Margulis (Music Cognition, Princeton University) 

·         Isabelle Peretz (Psychology, University of Montreal)

·         David Poeppel (Neuroscience, NYU)

·         Ljiljana Progovac (Linguistics, Wayne State University)

 

Both the Poster and Call for Papers/Posters are attached. Please pass on/post as appropriate. And please save the dates! 

The conference website: https://elm.clas.uconn.edu

The conference email: elm@uconn.edu

 

Sincerely,

Dorit Bar-On, ECOM Director 

Aliyar Ozercan, ECOM Coordinator

 

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CogSci Colloquium: Aaron Shield

Friday, November 1st

Time: 4:00pm

Room: Oak Hall 117

The Cognitive Science Colloquium Series is proud to present Aaron Shield, Professor in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Miami University of Ohio.

Dr. Shield will provide a talk entitled Insights into cognitive and linguistic processes from research on autism and sign language

Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss how research into the signed languages of the deaf has the power to illuminate big questions about human language. By comparing spoken and signed languages, we gain a better understanding of what language is, how children learn languages, and how to best characterize and treat language disorders. In particular, I will show how research into the acquisition of American Sign Language (ASL) by deaf children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sheds new light on various questions about acquisition, such as how children imitate linguistic forms, how children use pronouns and other words that refer to self and other, and how language exposure may affect other aspects of cognition.

Contact Inge-Marie Eigsti (inge-marie.eigsti@uconn.edu) to schedule a meeting with Prof. Shield.

Learn more about Aaron Shield.

CogSci Colloquium: Richard Wilson

The Cognitive Science Colloquium Series is proud to present Richard Ashby Wilson, Professor of Law and Anthropology and Gladstein Chair of Human Rights at UConn.

 

Friday, February 22nd, 4pm, Oak 117

The Psychology of Incitement and Hate Speech: A Dialogue Between Law and Social Science

 

We live in an era of nativist populism, characterized by speech that incites violence on social media, and an escalation in hate crimes. Recent social science research has identified a correlation between online incitement and offline hate crimes in the United States and Europe. What kinds of speech are the most likely to instigate acts of violence? The current research identifies revenge propaganda as the most likely type to instigate atrocities. We coded 242 speeches by a Serbian politician for references to revenge, nationalism, stereotyping, dehumanization, justice, victimization, past atrocities, political institutions and direct threats. After reading one speech or a control, participants answered questions about empathy, intentionality, and whether violence is morally justifiable. Only speeches focusing on revenge and past atrocities intensified justifications of violence. Only revenge speech increased overall negative attitudes towards the out-group. On the level of personality, those who are more politically conservative, feel the world is unjust, engage more in violent media and are male are more likely to justify violence. These findings have implications for the elusive goal of preventing atrocities. The regulatory framework established fifty years ago in the United States is showing signs of severe strain, and this research draws upon behavioral research to construct a systematic evidence-based framework for analyzing the risk that inciting speech will result in imminent lawless action.

 

If you are interested in meeting with Professor Wilson on 2/22, please contact Dr. Xygalatas:  dimitris.xygalatas@uconn.edu