Events

Reminder: Register for the IBACS Meet & Speak on 4/29

A reminder that registration is open for the IBACS Meet & Speak on 4/29! Details can be found below, including the talk title and abstract for our keynote talk by Dr. Takao Hensch at Harvard University. We hope you can join us!

Dear IBACS community,

We are excited to officially invite you to attend the IBACS 2022 Meet and Speak event on Friday, April 29th from 2-6pm.This event will be in-person in Bousfield A106.

Affiliated faculty will give 10-minute talks, most of which are on the research they have carried out, or propose carrying out, with seed funding previously awarded by IBACS. Affiliated graduate students who have received IBACS funding will be presenting 5-minute “datablitz” style talks.

The IBACS Meet & Speak 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. We hope you can join us, please register here for all or part of the event.

Schedule

2:00PM – Introduction

2:10PM – Faculty Talks (10 minutes each)

3:00PM – Graduate Student Data Blitz (5 minutes each)

3:30PM – Keynote Speaker: Dr. Takao Hensch, Harvard University

Talk Title: Balancing Brain Plasticity/Stability

Abstract: Brain function is largely shaped by experience in early life, creating windows of both great opportunity and vulnerability. Our work has focused on the biological basis for such critical periods, identifying both “triggers” and “brakes” on plasticity. Strikingly, the maturation of particular inhibitory circuits is pivotal for the onset timing of these windows. Manipulations of their emergence can either accelerate or delay developmental trajectories regardless of chronological age. Notably, many neurodevelopmental disorders are linked to alterations in excitatory-inhibitory balance, suggesting shifted critical period timing as part of their etiology. Closure of critical periods in turn reflects an active process, rather than a purely passive loss of plasticity factors. Lifting these brakes allows the reopening of plastic windows later in life, but may also underlie instability in disease states. Thus, understanding how brain plasticity and stability are balanced throughout life offers new insight into mental illness and novel therapeutic strategies for recovery of function in adulthood.

4:30PM – Panel Discussion: Featuring Takao Hensch, Erika Skoe, and Natale Sciolino

Innovations and the intersections of technology in Neuro/Cognitive Science

5:00PM – Wine and Cheese Social in Atrium

A more detailed program including speaker names and talk titles will be shared soon.

Best,

Holly Fitch, IBACS Director

Crystal Mills, IBACS Coordinator

Join us for COGS Colloquium: Dr. Hady Ba

Please join the Cognitive Science Program on 4/22 for our next Colloquium!
 
Image of Hady Ba

Speaker: Dr. Hady Ba, Associate-Professor of Philosophy at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Visiting Fullbright Scholar  

Time & Location: 4pm, Friday, April 22, 2022 in Oak 117. Light refreshments will be provided. 

Talk TitleApe Linguistics and the Chomsky/Norvig debate 

AbstractAccording to Chomsky, statistical models of language, even though pragmatically successful can’t teach us anything about the nature of language which is rule based. Norvig disagree. According to him science goes from accumulation of data to explanation and back. In this talk, I’ll first show that despite advances in the statistical treatment of language, what happens is that the most successful algorithms for translation, completion and dialogue seem to mimic our brains treatment of language but have some limitations that we don’t know yet how to get rid of. Does this mean that we need better linguistic theories to get to the next step? To respond to this question, I will use data from animal linguistic cognition. I’ll argue that our experiments in teaching language to monkeys and the use by some researchers of tools from linguistics to analyze natural communicative production of apes show that there is a very specific, probably innate, component in humans’ ability to not only produce but also understand language. I will argue that contrary to what Chomsky think, this component goes beyond universal grammar and is probably due to the very peculiar nature of human sociability.  

Bio: An Associate-Professor of Philosophy at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Hady BA is a Fulbright Scholar from Senegal. He holds a PhD in Cognitive Science from The Jean Nicod Institute in Paris. Before coming back to Dakar, Hady Ba has worked on the development of Natural Language Processing tools that uses open-source resources like the web to detect and anticipate security threats. He’s currently writing a book on the epistemology of the Global South and has an ongoing project on animal cognition comparing human and non-human cognition.  

Meeting opportunities: Dr. Ba will be available during the day of his talk for individual or small-group meetings on Zoom or in-person. Please contact Crystal at crystal.mills@uconn.edu if you are interested.

COGS Colloquium: Dr. Hady Ba on 4/22

Please join the Cognitive Science Program on 4/22 for our next Colloquium!
 
Image of Hady Ba

Speaker: Dr. Hady Ba, Associate-Professor of Philosophy at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Visiting Fullbright Scholar  

Time & Location: 4pm, Friday, April 22, 2022 in Oak 117. Light refreshments will be provided. 

Talk TitleApe Linguistics and the Chomsky/Norvig debate 

AbstractAccording to Chomsky, statistical models of language, even though pragmatically successful can’t teach us anything about the nature of language which is rule based. Norvig disagree. According to him science goes from accumulation of data to explanation and back. In this talk, I’ll first show that despite advances in the statistical treatment of language, what happens is that the most successful algorithms for translation, completion and dialogue seem to mimic our brains treatment of language but have some limitations that we don’t know yet how to get rid of. Does this mean that we need better linguistic theories to get to the next step? To respond to this question, I will use data from animal linguistic cognition. I’ll argue that our experiments in teaching language to monkeys and the use by some researchers of tools from linguistics to analyze natural communicative production of apes show that there is a very specific, probably innate, component in humans’ ability to not only produce but also understand language. I will argue that contrary to what Chomsky think, this component goes beyond universal grammar and is probably due to the very peculiar nature of human sociability.  

Bio: An Associate-Professor of Philosophy at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Hady BA is a Fulbright Scholar from Senegal. He holds a PhD in Cognitive Science from The Jean Nicod Institute in Paris. Before coming back to Dakar, Hady Ba has worked on the development of Natural Language Processing tools that uses open-source resources like the web to detect and anticipate security threats. He’s currently writing a book on the epistemology of the Global South and has an ongoing project on animal cognition comparing human and non-human cognition.  

Meeting opportunities: Dr. Ba will be available during the day of his talk for individual or small-group meetings on Zoom or in-person. Please contact Crystal at crystal.mills@uconn.edu if you are interested.

Join us at the IBACS Meet & Speak on 4/29

We are excited to officially invite you to attend the IBACS 2022 Meet and Speak event on Friday, April 29th from 2-6pm. This event will be in-person in Bousfield A106. 
 
Affiliated faculty will give 10-minute talks, most of which are on the research they have carried out, or propose carrying out, with seed funding previously awarded by IBACS. Affiliated graduate students who have received IBACS funding will be presenting 5-minute “datablitz” style talks. 
 
The IBACS Meet & Speak 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. We hope you can join us, please register here for all or part of the event

Schedule 

2:00PM – Introduction
2:10PM – Faculty Talks (10 minutes each)
3:00PM – Graduate Student Data Blitz (5 minutes each)
3:30PM – Keynote Speaker: Dr. Takao Hensch, Harvard University
4:30PM – Panel Discussion: Featuring Takao Hensch, Erika Skoe, and Natale Sciolino
5:00PM – Wine and Cheese Social in Atrium
A more detailed program including speaker names, talk titles, and the panel discussion topic will be shared soon.

COGS & ECOM: Ani Patel 2/11

Please mark your calendars for our next talk as we will be hosting Prof. Aniruddh Patel (Dept. of Psychology, Tufts Univ.) on Feb 11 (Friday) between 4-5:30 pm (EST) via Zoom as part of our ECOM Speaker Series. The title of his talk is “The speech-to-song illusion: acoustic foundations and individual differences.” Prof. Patel’s talk is co-sponsored by The Cognitive Science Program. Below, you can find the abstract of his talk, along with the event link.
Prof. Patel told us he’d be happy to meet virtually to discuss issues related to his research. There are a couple of slots available to meet with him on Feb 11, Friday, between 12:15 pm – 1:15 pm, and on Feb 14, Monday, between 10:30 am – 11:30 am, and 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm. If you’d like to meet with him, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to make the necessary arrangements. 
Abstract: Music often has salient acoustic differences from spoken and environmental sounds, especially with respect to patterns of pitch and timing. Research has shown humans can discriminate spoken and musical sounds within a fraction of second, and neuroimaging research has found distinct neural populations that respond to speech and music. These findings support the notion that music is a kind of sound, with distinct acoustic features and modes of neural processing. In this presentation I explore a phenomenon which challenges this view, and which suggests that music is a kind of perceptual experience, not a kind of sound. In the “speech to song illusion” certain spoken phrases, when played repeatedly, begin to vividly sound like song. Crucially, not all phrases transform in this way, and there are substantial individual differences in how strongly people experience the illusion. I will present research addressing why certain phrases transform more than others and why some listeners hear the illusion more strongly than others. While we have made some progress in answering these questions, much about this illusion remains mysterious, raising questions about why certain sounds are experienced as music.

9/2/21: IBACS Large Seed Grant Application Now Open!

The Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (CT IBACS) is pleased to announce a new call for applications to its seed grant fund. 

 

The seed fund is intended to fund activities in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (broadly construed) that are likely to lead to applications for external funding, or which otherwise contribute to the mission of the Institute. Note that funding is primarily intended to cover direct research costs such as supplies, participant fees, or per diems, as well as student support. The review criteria promote innovative, novel, and collaborative projects in the field of brain and cognitive sciences that require expertise across laboratories and traditional disciplinary boundaries. Postdocs can also apply, with a faculty mentor as co-PI. We have further expanded this year’s seed grant solicitation to include COVID recovery. This addition in scope is intended to provide funds to recover or restart relevant projects that were interrupted due to COVID-19. Full details on the seed grant program, including applications (letter of intent and full seed app), allowable costs, please check our website.

Applications for small grants (less than $10,000) can be submitted at any time; applications in excess of $10,000 (but no more than $25,000) should be submitted by October 1st 

Please submit letters of intent as soon as possible, but at least 2 weeks prior to the seed grant application deadline (by 9/17/21), to allow time for review and feedback. 

The Institute also invites applications for affiliate memberships. 

Any questions should be directed to the Institute Coordinator, Crystal Mills at crystal.mills@uconn.edu or (860) 486-4937.

9/2/21: IBACS Undergrad Award Application Now Open!

IBACS is happy to announce another year of the undergraduate research grant program!

The application period for the Fall 2021/Spring 2022 research grant program opens today, September 1st, 2021, and the deadline for applications will be 11:59 pm on Monday, February 21st, 2022Note that the academic year applications will now be reviewed on a rolling basis and awards will be made until funds are exhausted, or up until the application deadline. In other words, apply early! 

It is expected that applicants will be conducting research with IBACS faculty members, focusing on any research area associated with the IBACS mission.  Faculty sponsors will need to supply a letter of recommendation. Once the applicant lists the faculty advisor of the project in the form, an email will be sent to the faculty member with directions for how to submit the letter.  Applicants must fill out the online application, and also submit via the online application, a relatively short research plan (maximum of 6,000 characters, approximately 3 pages) and a budget that explains in detail how the funds will be spent. The application link is listed below. It is recommended that the student first compose the research plan and budget using a word processing program, and then upload the final versions on to the website.

THIS PROGRAM IS NOT MEANT TO PROVIDE DIRECT FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO STUDENTS. Instead, it is meant to provide support for the research. The account will be set up with the faculty sponsor after the award is given. The funding is meant to defray the research-related costs such as materials & supplies, minor equipment, software, animal or participant-related costs. The budget should reflect these expenditures.

 Recipients cannot apply for another grant within the same academic year, however, are eligible for the summer research grant program, provided that they are still a UConn student at the time. Please note that the application period for the summer research grant program will open on February 21st, 2022, and the deadline for applications will be 11:59 pm on March 14th, 2022

 

The IBACS undergraduate award academic year applications are reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • The project description is well written and clearly explains the project.
  • The project clearly focuses on a research area associated with the IBACS mission.
  • The budget is itemized, appropriate to the project described, and reports the total cost of the project (even if it exceeds the funding requested).
  • The advisor is familiar with the student’s project and rates the student’s work to date highly. 
  • Where project applications are equally meritorious, the reviewers will take note of how the student’s project will contribute to the advisor’s research goals.
  • The student and his/her project meet the eligibility criteria.
  • The student has secured research compliance approval(s) if necessary for the project. No award will be issued until documentation of approval(s) is received.

       

      IBACS Fall 2021/Spring 2022 Application: https://quest.uconn.edu/prog/ibacs_undergraduate_research_grant_-_fall_2021spring_2022

       

      Please visit our website for more information and contact our Institute Coordinator, Crystal Mills at crystal.mills@uconn.edu or (860) 486-4937 if you have any questions. 

      CogSci Colloquium: Dr. Lewis Gordon on 4/2/21

      The Cognitive Science Colloquium Series is proud to present Dr. Lewis Gordon, Ph.D.

      Department Head of Philosophy at UConn

      Photo of Dr. Lewis Gordon

      Friday, April 2nd, 4pm, virtually on Zoom

      REGISTER HERE (required)

      Talk Title: “The Colonization and Decolonization of Disciplines, Especially in the Human Sciences”

      Bio: Lewis R. Gordon is Professor and Head of the Department of Philosophy at UCONN-Storrs; Honorary President of the Global Center for Advanced Studies; Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa; and Honorary Professor in the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University, South Africa. He previously taught at Brown University, where he founded the Department of Africana Studies, and Temple University, where was the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Philosophy and founder of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies and the Institute for the Study of Race and Social Thought. He co-edits with Jane Anna Gordon the journal Philosophy and Global Affairs, the Rowman & Littlefield book series Global Critical Caribbean Thought, and, with Rozena Maart, Epifania Amoo-Adare, and Sayan Dey, the Routledge-India book series Academics, Politics and Society in the Post-Covid World. He is the author of many books, including Freedom, Justice, and Decolonization (Routledge, 2021) and the forthcoming 论哲学、去殖民化与种族 (“On Philosophy, Decolonization, and Race”), trans. Li Beilei (Wuhan, China: Wuhan University Press, fall 2021) and Fear of Black Consciousness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the USA and Penguin Book in the UK; German translation, Ullstein Verlag in Germany; Portuguese translation, Todavia in Brazil,  forthcoming 2022).

      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