CS Wednesday Talks Fall 2010

September 15: Mara Breen, adjunct assistant professor of psychology
Stress matters: the role of word stress in silent reading
Abstract: We know that spoken language preceded written language historically, and that children learn to read aloud before they read silently. An open question in research on silent reading is the extent to which it mirrors the process of reading aloud. Specifically, are silent readers activating the same sound representations during silent reading that are activated when reading aloud? In this talk, I present data from two eye-tracking studies that provide evidence that readers sound out the stress patterns of words even when reading silently.

September 22: Joanna Morris, associate professor of cognitive science
Morphological priming of regular and irregular verbs
Abstract: In this talk I will present evidence about how the brain recognizes complex words. Do we decompose complex words into their component parts in order to recognize them and reassemble them in production? Or are they stored intact in our mental dictionary? Recent masked priming experiments have brought to light a morphological level of analysis that is exclusively based on the orthographic appearance of words, so that it breaks down corner into corn- and -er, as well as dealer into deal- and -er. Because this level of analysis ignores meaning, it cannot capture the morphological relationship between irregularly inflected words and their base forms (e.g., fell-fall, bought-buy). I will present behavioral and electrophysiological data from an experiment comparing irregular and regular inflections that provide support for a level of morphological analysis that takes semantic as well as orthographic information into account.

September 29: Tony McCaffrey, Lee Spector, Univeristy of Massachusetts grad., professor of computer science, University of Massachusetts graduate student
A New Psychology of Innovation Based On Two Principles: The Obscure Features Hypothesis and the Just Outside the Box Hypothesis
Abstract: Insight problems (that often involve aha moments) have been studied since the early part of the 20th century. Recent analysis has determined that insight problems are solved by noticing a rarely noticed or never-before noticed (i.e., obscure) feature of the problem's elements and then building a solution based on that obscure feature. Besides toy problems in psychology labs, obscure features are also often crucial for solving engineering design problems (e.g., design a new type of shovel) as the novel designs are usually built upon an obscure feature of the object. This Obscure Features Hypothesis for innovation opens up a research program based on two questions. What inhibits people from noticing the obscure? What techniques can help overcome these sources of inhibition? First, I will present results from my lab on the techniques that have been tested. Second, I will present results from analyzing the structural properties of semantic networks that are important for problem solving. For example, drawing a box around the semantic network of all the common associations for an object shows the common thoughts close to that object, which are "inside the box." The key information for solving a problem is most often just outside the box, literally one or two steps away. This and other structural properties of a semantic network make possible a computer program that can assist humans in problem solving by guiding humans to the parts of the semantic network with the highest probability of being helpful. After winning prize money for this idea at the Spring 2010 UMass Innovation Challenge, this software is being developed and will be beta-tested at Raytheon, Yankee Candle, and Saint-Gobain later this year.

October 6: Ray Coppinger, professor emeritus of biology
Dogs are Lousy Mothers
Abstract: The canids have some of the most complex parental behaviors in the animal world. How could it be possible that dogs (the most recent form  in the genus Canis) have evolved a minimal care pattern, more crude  than that of any other mammal? At first glance it seems unlikely that bad mothering or fathering or even sistering could be a selective advantage--but it seems be true.

October 13: Daniel Altshuler, mellon postdoctoral fellow in language, mind, and culture
Abstract: One reason why linguists study aspectual markers (e.g. progressive and the perfect) is that they reveal what event parts are linguistically relevant and how these parts are located in time in a given discourse or story. Aspectual markers, however, are rarely precise about the temporal location of a given event part. Inferences about an event's temporal location are also dependent on independently motivated temporal constraints imposed by so-called coherence relations, which characterize the possible ways in which successive utterances could be connected to form coherent discourse. In this talk, I will discuss how aspectual meaning interacts with coherence relations by looking at the Russian imperfective. In this way, I will also provide a sneak preview for my class next semester, Literature and Cognition.

October 20: Jane Couperus, assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience
Evidence for a Two-process Model of Visual Selective Attention
Abstract: Selective attention modulates activity at early levels of visual processing, as is reflected in changes in the P1 event-related potential (ERP) component. Although some have suggested that the process of selection involves primarily signal enhancement (e.g., Mangun et al., 1991), others have suggested that it involves both the enhancement of the signal of the attended stimulus as well as suppression of the unattended stimulus (e.g. Awh, Matsukura, and Serences 2003; Couperus and Mangun, in press, Dell'Acqua et al., 2007). In addition to presenting recent electrophysiological work with adults that begins to provide evidence of these two process, this talk will also examine behavioral and preliminary electrophysiological evidence from children.

October 27: A panel of CS faculty and students, introduced by Laura Wenk, associate professor of education and cognition
What Could Community Engaged Learning Mean in CS?
Abstract: Hampshire College is in the middle of a shift from a Division II Community Service requirement to a Community Engaged Learning (CEL) requirement. These are very different things with big implications for course development and for student work. Come hear about what this requirement means and how some CS students have been meeting the requirement. Perhaps most importantly, help us think about what opportunities we could create to help students mesh their academic learning with the world beyond the classroom. There will be short talks by a few CS students and faculty, followed by lively discussion. Oh, yeah, and of course, there will be pizza, salad, fruit, and the like.

November 3: Joanna Morris, associate professor of psycholinguistics and cognitive science
How wlel do we raed copmlex wrods with trnaspsoed lteters?
Abstract: Recent studies have shown that semantically opaque pseudo-complex words (e.g. corner) prime their embedded pseudo-stems (i.e. corn) as much as semantically transparent word-stem pairs do (e.g. hunter-hunt).  These data suggest suggest that morphological structure affects visual word recognition uniquely via sub-lexical morpho-orthographic segmentation. Here, we show that priming with transparent and opaque primes is differentially affected by transposing morpheme boundary letters. Whereas priming remains intact for transparent items (relative to replaced letter primes; viewer-view ~ vieewr-view < vieakr-view), it is reduced to the level of replaced letter primes for opaque items (corner-corn < corenr-corn ~ coratr-corn). This pattern of results was predicted by a model of complex word recognition that involves both sub-lexical morpho-orthographic and supra-lexical morpho-semantic processing. Transposed letters at the morpheme boundary are harmful for the fine-grained sub-lexical orthographic code that drives morpho-orthographic processing, but not for the coarse-grained lexical orthographic activation that initiates morpho-semantic processing.  

November 10: Daniel Asia, ('71 Alum)

The Act Thereof, and a Few Results
Abstract: The creative process is rich with complexity and fraught with problems. I will speak about some of the questions to ask to help you develop your own best practices in dealing with yours. This will pertain to composers in particular, artists more generally, those engaged in creative thinking, or those who wish to understand more about the creative/cognitive process. This will be supported with the playing of a few of the composer's selected works.

Daniel Asia ('71 Alum) has been an eclectic and unique composer from the start. He has enjoyed the usual grants from Meet the Composer; a UK Fulbright award; Guggeneheim Fellowship; MacDowell and Tanglewood fellowships; ASCAP and BMI prizes; Copland Fund grants; and numerous others. He was recently honored with a Music Academy Award for the American Academy of Arts and Letters. From 1991-1994 he was composer in residence of the Phoenix Symphony. Under a Barlow Endowment grant, he recently finished a new work for The Czech Nonet, the longest continuously performing chamber ensemble on the planet, founded in 1924. He is currently finishing his first opera, The Tin Angel, based on the novel by Paul Pines. The recorded works of Daniel Asia may be heard on the labels of Summit, New World, Attacca, Albany, Babel, and Mushkatweek. For further information, visit the Daniel Asia website at www.danielasia.net. Asia is currently professor of music and director of the Center for the Study of American Ideals and Culture at the University of Arizona.

November 17: Carol Trosset, director of institutional research, "Welsh Concepts of Personhood."

December 1: Lightning Talks

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