Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Motivated and Medicated Attention:
Insights from Startle Modulation Studies
For many years, cognition and motivation have largely been either considered in isolation or pitted against one another. More recently, psychologists have increasingly explored interactions between the two domains. We have used modulation of the acoustic startle reflex to study this interface. Specifically, we examine prepulse inhibition, the attenuation of the eyeblink startle reflex caused by the presentation of a brief non-startling stimulus 60-300 ms before the onset of the reflex-eliciting probe. Prepulse inhibition is theorized to reflect an early, partially-automatic gating or filtering process; the basic effect is enhanced by active attention to the prepulse. With interest in both clinical disorders and neurobiological models of reinforcement and certain classes of drugs, we have conducted a family of studies to address questions about moderators of early attentional processing in children, adults, and even rats.
Ashare, Rebecca L.; Hawk, Larry W., Jr.; & Mazzullo, Rebecca J. (2007), "Motivated attention: Incentive effects on attentional modification of prepulse inhibition", Psychophysiology 44: 839-845.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
UB Department of Learning and Instruction
and The UB Center for Literacy and Reading Instruction
Contextual Vocabulary Acquisition:
(1) From Algorithm to Curriculum
and (2) An Introspective Self Case Study of CVA while Reading a Novel
Deliberate contextual vocabulary acquisition (CVA) is a reader's ability to figure out a (not "the") meaning for (not "of") an unknown word from its "context", without external sources of help such as dictionaries or people. The appropriate context for such CVA is the "belief-revised integration" of the reader's prior knowledge with the reader's "internalization" of the text. (1) Rapaport will present and defend an implemented computational theory of CVA and its adaptation to a new classroom curriculum designed to help students use CVA to improve their reading comprehension. (2) Kibby will then report his use of CVA while reading a novel. During the reading, he encountered 91 words whose meanings he did not know. He did not look up the meaning of any word until the first draft of a manuscript on this experiment was completed 25 months after the reading. While reading, he recorded for each word his hypothesized meanings, rationales for the meanings, and judgments of the correctness of the hypothesized meaning and the helpfulness of the context. He completed posttests 3 and 20 months after the reading to assess recall of the meanings of the 91 words. Kibby will report characteristics of the unknown words (e.g., frequency in English, part of speech), and analyses of his judgments of the hypothesized meanings and the correctness of the meanings by dictionary definitions, but the focus will be summarizing and describing the major rationales he used for deriving hypothesized meanings: global and local text comprehension, the use of character traits and settings, prior knowledge of the content, and, most important, reasoning.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Visual Experience and Axon Growth in the Xenopus Tectum
The developing brain is actively shaped by early experience. One model system for understanding how sensory experience governs the growth of axons in the visual system is the Xenopus frog optic tectum. The axons that bring binocular input to the tectum depend upon visual input in order to make orderly connections. My studies focus on assessing how the axons change their morphology in response to normal and experimental situations and on discovering the underlying mechanisms. In this talk, I'll present some of my past work and will introduce some new work on studying axons in the living animal.
The Relationship between Perceptual Learning, Plasticity, and Intelligence
Learning experiences and cortical function contribute to individual and species differences in intellectual abilities. These factors impact cognitive capacity throughout an organism's lifespan. Traditionally, intelligence researchers have treated variability in capacity associated with age and experience as confounds to objectively measuring an individual's ability, and have suggested that specializations in frontal circuits are the source of superior capacity. Consequently, the role of cortical plasticity in intellectual development largely has been ignored. Similarly, an organism's intellect is widely assumed to be independent of its perceptual abilities. In this talk, I will describe a model of the neural mechanisms of intelligence that suggests direct links between perceptual capacity, experience-dependent cortical plasticity, and intellectual ability.
Micheal Dent, discussion leader
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
of Brain & Cognitive Sciences,
University of Rochester
Circuits and Biochemical Signaling Engaged for Vocal Learning
Like language acquisition in humans, avian vocal learning entails memorizing an auditory stimulus, mapping motor output to auditory feedback, and gradually adjusting output to mimic the encoded auditory template. A well-studied neural circuit controls avian song behavior, and discrete regions within this system are implicated specifically in vocal plasticity. In this talk, I will focus particularly on the neural circuits, synaptic mechanisms, and intracellular signaling cascades that appear to be important for the accurate memorization of songs that will be used as a template for song development. This work suggests that elements of the basal ganglia may be involved in encoding sensory representations that eventually guide vocal development, and that ascending dopaminergic pathways could play an important role in defining stimulus constraints on learning.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
of Communication Sciences & Disorders,
Neural Mechanisms of Verb Argument-Structure Processing
Lesion-deficit studies showing dissociations between noun and verb production/comprehension suggest that verbs are processed in the anterior perisylvian region of the brain. However, neuroimaging studies with healthy volunteers show that verb processing is associated with both anterior and posterior parts of the language network. Patient studies also show that verbs with greater argument-structure (participant-role) density present more difficulty than verbs of lesser density, and recent neuroimaging studies show graded upregulation of posterior perisylvian tissue associated with argument-structure complexity. This presentation will highlight three interrelated sets of studies relevant to these issues: (a) cross-linguistic studies of aphasia, showing that naming is impacted by verb argument structure; i.e., verbs with a greater number of arguments or which encode for arguments that do not map directly onto the syntax are more difficult (Kim & Thompson 2000, 2004; Thompson 2003; Thompson & Lee, in press), (b) studies examining eye movements during production of verbs and sentences with 2- and 3-argument verbs, indicating that normal, but not agrammatic, speakers automatically encode verb argument-structure in their naming attempts (Thompson, Dickey, Lee, Cho, & Griffin, 2006; Lee & Thompson, 2008); and (c) neuroimaging (fMRI) data from both healthy and agrammatic speakers showing graded activation in the posterior perisylvian region associated with verbs with greater argument-structure density (Thompson, Bonakdarpour, Fix, Blumenfeld, Parrish, Gitelman, & Mesulam, 2997; Thompson, Bonakdarpour, & Fix, in press). Results of these studies will be discussed in the context of processing mechanisms involved in mapping linguistic form onto meaning (or vice versa) during sentence comprehension (or production).
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
of Mathematics & Statistics,
University of Ottawa
Census-Based Prediction and Understanding
of Language Shift and Language Revival
in Bilingual Communities
Linguistic revival programs do not produce the same effects over all age groups of the population. Differential outcomes can be observed by examining the distribution of linguistic competence according to age, several years after the beginning of the programs. Although population census data on usage and linguistic competence can be rather inaccurate and have systematic bias, they do benefit from two elements not present in other types of data. First, as they come from the total population, at least theoretically, they typically include several millions of people, allowing the cross-tabulation of many variables while keeping a significant number of individuals in each cell of the table. Secondly, the data should be comparable from one population to another, facilitating similar studies in different communities, regions, or countries. This talk focuses on the way the distribution of linguistic competence according to the age of the population can help us analyze and predict the progress of the historical processes that determine language shift and linguistic normalization: the intergenerational transmission of language, school education and the linguistic integration of immigrants.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Spring Break — no meeting
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Department of Communicative Disorders & Sciences
Motor Speech Disorders Laboratory
Coarticulatory Patterns in Dysarthria:
Implications for a Dysarthria Definition
The definition of the communication disorder termed "dysarthria" has not undergone significant revision since this speech motor control disorder was described in the late 1960s by researchers at the Mayo Clinics. The Mayo dysarthria definition is explicit in stating that paralysis, weakness, and incoordination in the speech musculature contribute to reductions in speech intelligibility and naturalness for this population. Incoordination in motor speech disorders is suggested by case studies reporting movement decomposition, decoupling of movements, difficulties in phasing successive articulatory gestures, movement timing deficits, and intra and inter-articulatory spatial-temporal dyscoordinations. Our research has approached the construct of articulatory coordination by examining coarticulatory patterns within and between syllables produced by speakers with dysarthria. Results from these acoustic studies suggest mostly preserved coarticulation in speakers with a variety of neurological diagnoses and dysarthrias. Perceptual data from our lab further suggest that listeners are not sensitive to differences in the degree to which consonants (C) and vowels (V) in CV syllables are coarticulated, nor are coarticulatory patterns strongly related to intelligibility at the single word level. These data have implications for a definition of dysarthria.
Vocal Imitation of Speech and Song:
Individual Differences and the Role of Articulation
In previous research, our lab has made the case that deficits in singing (for the most part) may be considered as deficits in vocal imitation (Pfordresher & Brown 2006). More recent research that will be summarized today explores factors related to vocal imitation in more detail. Specifically, this research attempts to address how general vocal imitation abilities are with respect to domain (speech/song) and the degree to which different components of vocal production (specifically phonation and articulation) are integrated during imitation. We adopt a task in which participants explicitly attempt to imitate a recorded sequence and focus on the accuracy with which participants imitate pitch/time contours. Results suggest that imitation abilities overall are shared across the domains of music and language. At the same time, the relationship between phonation and articulation differs across domains, in that coupling between articulation and phonation appears to be more important for the imitation of speech than for the imitation of song. These data have implications for the use of music in the treatment of aphasia (melodic intonation therapy) and deficits in prosody (e.g., Asperger syndrome, Parkinson's dysphonia).
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Grant Brainstorming Session
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Binghamton University (SUNY)
Retrieval and Expression of Knowledge in Elementary Learning
Changes in performance as a consequence of specific prior experience involve a long chain of events. A break in any link of the chain can impair performance. Historically, students of associative learning, neuroscientists, and some cognitive psychologists have emphasized differences in encoding of information when trying to explain the effects of manipulations at the time of training. However, in addition to encoding of target information, other information is encoded during training that can later impact retrieval of information concerning the target. A model of learning will be presented in which encoding is near veridical, and subsequent performance deficits arise from mechanisms underlying the retrieval and expression of knowledge.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
DeVault Otologic Research Laboratory
Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis
I'm Not Crazy; I Just Can't Hear!!!:
Some Observations on Hearing Loss
and Neurocognitive Function
in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants
This talk deals with research on neurocognitive processes underlying speech and language outcomes in prelingually deaf children following cochlear implantation. Past research on cochlear implants has been very narrowly focused on speech and language outcomes and efficacy of cochlear implantation as a medical treatment for profound hearing loss. Surprisingly, little—if any—basic or clinical research has investigated the underlying neurobiological and neurocognitive factors that are responsible for the enormous individual differences and variability in the effectiveness of cochlear implants.
This talk has two goals. The first goal is to present a summary of recent findings demonstrating that specific, domain-general, neurocognitive processes related to executive functioning—such as working memory, fluency-speed, concentration-inhibition, and organization-integration skills—are related to traditional endpoint clinical speech and language outcome measures. These executive function/cognitive control processes involve the global coordination, integration, and functional connectivity of multiple underlying brain systems used in speech perception, production, and spoken-language processing. These new findings on the underlying sources of variability in spoken-language processing will help both clinicians and researchers understand, explain, and predict individual differences in speech and language outcomes following cochlear implantation.
The second goal is to suggest that these neurocognitive findings have direct clinical implications for developing new methods to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and early identification of young deaf children, especially deaf children who may be at high risk for poor speech and language outcomes following cochlear implantation.
16 September 2009
Department of Psychology
University of California, San Diego
What Speakers Do and Don't Do to Successfully Communicate
Accumulating evidence in the cognitive and linguistic sciences suggests that people are often near-optimal actors, being exquisitely tuned to the world around them. In contrast, I describe a range of observations indicating that, when producing language, speakers are notably suboptimal and insensitive to many important features of their linguistic expressions and communicative environments. For example, speakers produce words based on factors other than what they mean, they sometimes choose descriptions that ignore what their addressees do and do not know and that violate their own communicative goals, and they are largely insensitive to the linguistic ambiguity of their utterances. These insensitivities arise at least partly because speakers are responsive to their own cognitive needs: They choose words and sentence structures that are readily accessible, and choose descriptions referring to features that draw their attention. I argue that speakers' productions show sensitivity to their own needs like this because producing language is hard—especially, it's harder than understanding language. As such, it is not speakers who are optimally tuned to their environment, but speakers and hearers together, each making up for the challenges of the other, who exhibit a division of labor for communicative success.
Ferriera, Victor S. (2009), "Ambiguity, Accessibility, and a Division of Labor for Communicative Success" (unpublished ms.).
23 September 2009
Department of Psychology
Buffalo State College
Who Are You Talking About?
How Prominence Helps Understanding
Understanding dependencies in language, including that between a pronoun and its antecedent, relies on memory, since listeners and readers need access to previously encountered information. Previous research shows that a pronoun referring back to a prominent antecedent is easier to resolve than when the antecedent is not prominent. I will present experiments testing two possible cognitive mechanisms underlying this advantage. Results indicate that prominence facilitates pronoun resolution by increasing the distinctiveness of antecedent representations in memory, thereby facilitating retrieval, rather than by prompting active maintenance of a prominent entity in focal attention.
Foraker, Stephani; & McElree, Brian (2007), "The Role of Prominence in Pronoun Resolution: Active versus Passive Representations", Journal of Memory and Language 56: 357–383.
30 September 2009
Research Group Meetings
7 October 2009
Department of Linguistics
and Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences
University of Rochester
The Qualities of Quality
In this talk, I will be concerned with general principles governing the relationship between what speakers say and what they are taken by their interlocutors to believe. My starting point is Grice's maxim of Quality ("Try to make your contribution one that is true"), which is standardly assumed to underlie implications about the speaker's propositional attitude toward the content of her contribution. If the speaker is meeting the demands of Quality, as interlocutors normally presume, then addressees can infer that the speaker believes what she is saying and (believes she) has sufficient evidence for it.
Although this standard picture has much to recommend it, it has long been recognized that Quality operates somewhat differently than the other maxims, with Grice himself being the first to remark on its exceptional nature. I will focus on the differences in the first part of the talk, summarizing and adding to the existing set of observations about its special character. The conclusion is that Quality is not just an unusual sort of maxim, it is a different sort of beast altogether. In the second part of the talk, I translate the observations into a set of requirements for the implementation of Quality, and propose to meet the requirements by modeling relations between the discourse situation (which includes the states of the interlocutors) and the situation described by the discourse content.
14 October 2009
Department of Psychology
University of Western Ontario
Verbal and Nonverbal Approaches to Category Learning
Categories are learned in a variety of ways, and one important distinction concerns the effects of verbal and nonverbal processing on category learning. For example, when a physician offers a diagnosis to a sick patient, he or she is classifying that patient into a known disease category. The diagnosis can be made on the basis of symptom lists but is also affected by memories for similar patients. Selecting symptoms and applying rules is a verbally-mediated process, whereas calculating or assessing the similarity of the patient to memories of previous patients is a nonverbal process. Many factors likely influence the relative balance of these processes, and different categories probably rely on a different balance of these two processes. In this talk, I outline a general theory of verbal and nonverbal category learning. I argue that verbal category learning relies on working memory and is primarily involved in rule-based categorization. Nonverbal category learning may rely on visual working memory and is primarily involved in similarity-based categorization. I present the results of several studies from my lab that test many of the predictions from this theory. Although we do not argue for two completely independent learning systems, we argue that the available evidence strongly supports the existence of these two approaches to learning categories.
Minda, John Paul; & Miles, Sarah J. (209, in press), "The Influence of Verbal and Nonverbal Processing on Category Learning", in B.H. Ross (ed.), The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Vol. 52 (New York, NY: Academic Press).
21 October 2009
NOTE: This talk will take place in the Center for the Arts Screening Room
James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor
Dean of Academic Planning in Arts and Sciences
Department of Psychology Memory Lab
LAW and COGNITIVE SCIENCE SPEAKER
Co-Sponsored by the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy
Illusory Memories and Their Implications
The two great errors of memory are trying to retrieve an event with nothing coming to mind (forgetting) and trying to retrieve a memory with the wrong target coming to mind and being accepted as correct (false or illusory memories). The careful study of forgetting was begun in 1885 and continues to this day. However, the systematic study of illusory memories has been carried out for only the past few decades. My talk will review several important situations and factors that are known to give rise to illusions of memory. Somewhat surprisingly, factors that often promote accurate retention can, in somewhat different situations, lead to illusory memories. The fact that memories are malleable has important implications for education, law, medicine, and other fields.
Roediger, Henry L.; & McDermott, Kathleen B. (2000), "Distortions of Memory", in Endel Tulving & Fergus I.M. Craik (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Memory (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 149–162.
28 October 2009
Professor and Patrick & Edna J. Romanell Chair
Department of Philosophy
University at Buffalo
Knowing How and Knowing Answers
I know how to drive my car. I also know many propositions about how to drive my car: I know, for instance, that I can start my car by turning its key in its ignition and that I can steer my car right by turning its steering wheel clockwise. My propositional knowledge obviously plays an important role in my knowledge of how to drive my car. Could my knowing how to drive my car simply consist in my knowing propositions? Propositionalism (as I shall use the term) is roughly the view that knowing how to G (for any G) reduces to propositional knowledge. I present and motivate a particular version of Propositionalism in this paper, thereby following previous advocates of Propositionalism, such as Carl Ginet (1975) and Jason Stanley and Timothy Williams (2001). I then describe how our intuitions about knows-how-to ascriptions vary from context to context. I use this discussion to reply to several objections to my version of Propositionalism.
Braun, David (2009), "Knowing How and Knowing Answers" (unpublished ms.)
4 November 2009
Research Group Meetings
11 November 2009
University of Virginia
LAW and COGNITIVE SCIENCE SPEAKER
Co-Sponsored by the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy
There is extensive behavioral research showing that people rely heavily on an informant's demeanor and confidence when evaluating that informant's credibility—despite the equally extensive research showing that often confidence is not well correlated with accuracy. Thus, relying on confidence as a proxy can lead to significant errors in trial outcomes. I will show that information about an informant's calibration—whether that person really is a good judge of what he knows and what he doesn't know—trumps confidence when evaluating credibility. I will also describe work showing how people differently treat information that is equally likely to be mistaken but for dissimilar reasons (either ignorance or intentional deception). These findings have implications for various rules of evidence.
Tenney, E.; MacCoun, R.; Spellman, B.; & Hastie, R. (2007), "Calibration Trumps Confidence as a Basis for Witness Credibility", Psychological Science 18(1): 46–50.
Spellman, B.; & Tenney, E. (2009), "Credible Testimony in and out of Court", (unpublished ms.).
18 November 2009
Cognitive Science Group
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Implicit Learning in the Language Production System
as Revealed by Speech Errors:
Some Studies within an Emerging Framework in Psycholinguistics
First, I'll describe a general framework for psycholinguistic research that emphasizes the interrelations among language comprehension, production, and acquisition. Then I'll present data from experiments that exemplify this framework involving the learning of artificial phonotactic-like constraints in the laboratory. One of the interesting features of this learning is that it is expressed in patterns of phonological speech errors. Another is that some patterns are learned extremely quickly, some quite slowly, and some not at all.
Dell, Gary S.; Reed, Kristopher D.; Adams, David R.; & Meyer, Antje S. (2000), "Speech Errors, Phonotactic Constraints, and Implicit Learning: A Study of the Role of Experience in Language Production", Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 26(6): 1355–1367.
25 November 2009
Thanksgiving Break—no meeting
2 December 2009
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
University at Buffalo
The GLAIR Cognitive Architecture and Prospects for Consciousness
GLAIR (Grounded Layered Architecture with Integrated Reasoning) is a multi-layered cognitive architecture for embodied agents operating in real, virtual, or simulated environments containing other agents. The highest layer of the GLAIR architecture, the Knowledge Layer (KL), contains the beliefs of the agent, including beliefs about itself, and is the layer in which conscious reasoning, planning, and act selection are performed. The lowest layer of the GLAIR architecture, the Sensori-Actuator Layer (SAL), contains the controllers of the sensors and effectors of the hardware or software robot. Between the KL and the SAL is the Perceptuo-Motor Layer (PML), which grounds the KL symbols in perceptual structures and subconscious actions, contains deictic and modality registers for providing the agent's sense of embodiment and of situatedness in the environment, and handles translation and communication between the KL and the SAL. I will discuss the GLAIR architecture, present an example of a GLAIR-based agent, and speculate about whether the agent's self-model, perceptual grounding of KL symbols, and the deictic and modality registers give the agent qualia and consciousness.
Shapiro, Stuart C.; & Bona, Jonathan P. (2009), "The GLAIR Cognitive Architecture", in Alexei Samsonovich (Ed.), Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures—II: Papers from the AAAI Fall Symposium, Technical Report FS-09-01 (Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press): 141–152.
9 December 2009
Center for Hearing & Deafness
Department of Communicative Disorders & Sciences
University at Buffalo
Make Up Your Mind!
Cross-Modal Plasticity and Sensory Recovery
Cross-modal reorganization of the brain as a result of sensory deprivation is well documented. For example, in individuals with early-onset blindness, the occipital cortex has been shown to respond to somatosensory input during Braille reading. Individuals with congenital deafness have been shown to process peripheral visual motion in areas of the right temporal lobe that respond to sound in normal-hearing individuals. These changes may be beneficial to the affected individuals, such as an increase in peripheral visual field awareness. However, our laboratory has found that if the deprived sense (e.g., hearing) is restored through medical intervention, these cross-modal differences in cortical organization are detrimental to the recovery of the affected sensory system. Cochlear implants provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the influence of cross-modal plasticity on sensory recovery in the auditory system. The long-term objectives in our laboratory are to further understanding of the development of cross-modal plasticity, the limitations it imposes on processing once the sensation of hearing has been restored, the development of cross-modal plasticity targeted therapeutic intervention, and to increase prognostic accuracy in auditorily deprived individuals seeking cochlear implants. Further, lessons learned about cross-modal plasticity in the auditory system have implications for the emerging field of retinal implants.
Kral, Andrej (2007), "Unimodal and Cross-Modal Plasticity in the ‘Deaf’ Auditory Cortex", International Journal of Audiology 46: 479–493.