Student smiling

CS Wednesday Talks Spring 2013

May 1, 2013
Talks by Cognitive Science Students

Hampshire Learning Project

Elana Brown, Sage Campbell, Laila Copperansky, Jonathan Gardner, Mitchell Krieger, Colin Quirk, Austin Retzlaff, Luke Richardson, Eliza Spalding, Mai Templeton, Garrett van Horne, Miranda Wiley, and Anna Yoors
Abstract: The Hampshire Learning Project is an ongoing study that investigates the impact of a Hampshire education on its graduates as they make their way in the world. As a part of that project, students in CS 283 Learning at Hampshire have been looking at the experience of current Hampshire students. They have interviewed graduating Division III students and examined student responses to the academic satisfaction survey administered this spring. Students will present their findings to date.
This work is funded in part by the John Watts Non Satis Scire Learning Project Fund

Early Exposure to Novelty and its Effect on Fearful and Avoidant Behavior in the Domestic Dog
Sonya Greenberg
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine whether early exposure to specific novelties would effectively decrease the display of fearful behavior in reaction to those novelties later in life in the domestic dog. Three litters of pups were used. Throughout their fourth week of life, two litters were introduced to three categories of novelty: unfamiliar surfaces, unusual dress, and animated toys. The remaining litter was not exposed to those novelties at this time, serving as a control. Once the pups reached eight weeks old, each pup (including those from the control litter) was reintroduced to the aforementioned novelties during a behavioral test. Through observational and statistical analysis, results indicate that pups who were not exposed to novelty during their fourth week withdrew from novelty and ignored their handler during their behavioral test (taken at eight weeks old) significantly more often than pups who were exposed at four weeks. This outcome supports the idea that early introduction to certain novelty may diminish fearful or avoidant responses to such novelty later in life.
This research was supported by The Ray and Lorna Coppinger Endowment.

April 24, 2013
Evolution in Middle Eastern Education Policy: The View from Iran, Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia
Elise K Burton, Ph.D. candidate in Middle Eastern Studies and History at Harvard University

Abstract: To date, much research on the reception and teaching of evolutionary theory in Muslim societies has assumed that religious attitudes take precedence in determining whether and how evolution is publicly accepted, rejected, or taught in schools. A corollary of these assumptions has been that countries governed on Islamic theocracy models would be more averse than "secular democracies" to including evolution within their national curricula. But are Islam and secularism always the right categories of analysis? A comparative study of science education policy in Middle Eastern states found that neither Islam as a state religion, nor the level of state religiosity, was sufficient to predict the treatment of evolution within national science curricula. These results call for a nuanced understanding of the position of science in Muslim-majority states today, and understanding that incorporates historical, political, and sociological contexts alongside theology, belief, and culture.

Biography: Elise K. Burton is a Ph.D. candidate in Middle Eastern Studies and History at Harvard University. Her dissertation research examines the history of human biology research and its relationship to ethnic nationalist politics in 20th century Iran, Turkey, and Israel.

April 17, 2013
Acquisition of Zero Relatives in African American English
Walter Sistrunk, adjunct assistant professor of linguistics

Abstract: In this study, I investigated the development of zero relatives in African American English (AAE) speaking children. The aim of this study is to discover the acquisition paths and the age at which AAE speaking children both comprehend and produce zero subject relatives found in adult AAE. Zero relatives, like other relatives, are embedded clauses that modify a noun phrase, where the relative clause 'who went to the store' modifies the noun phrase 'man' in the sentence: "The man who went to the store is John." Zero relatives differ in that there is no relative marker "who," "which," or "that" to introduce the relative clause: The man 0 went to the store is John. The aim of this study was not only to establish the acquisition paths and the age at which zero relatives occur in AAE-speaking children, but to also put to the test theoretical analysis of zero relatives through scientific experimentation.

Biographical Information: Walter Sistrunk is adjunct assistant professor of linguistics here at Hampshire College this term, teaching "Introduction to Linguistics."

April 10, 2013
Failures of Collective Action: New Evidence from Peer Production
Benjamin Mako Hill 99F, Media Lab, MIT

Abstract: Although new communication technologies have opened the door to large scale collaborative production--such as Wikipedia and Linux--they have also created digital records that bring previously invisible failures of collective action into view. I will suggest that this shift has offered scholars of communication a new opportunity to understand fundamental social outcomes with broad theoretical and practical implications, such as the decision to join a community or contribute to a public good. I will present research that seeks to answer why some attempts at collaborative production online build large volunteer communities while the vast majority never attract even a second contributor. In particular, I will look at how incentive design in communication technologies shapes volunteer contributions. Using large datasets from the Scratch online community and Wikipedia, I will present new evidence that widespread incentives to collective action introduce persistent trade-offs between more contributions and high quality contributions from a range of participants.

Biographical Information: Benjamin Mako Hill is a Hampshire alumnus. He earned a master's at the Media Lab and is finishing a joint Sloan-Media Lab Ph.D.

March 27, 2013
Sound and Vision/Word and Image: Islamic Portraiture and its Many Forms
Yael Rice, Ph.D., Five College Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Islamic art at Amherst College

Abstract: It is a widespread misconception that the medieval and early modern arts of the Islamic lands lacked a tradition of figural depiction. In fact, illustrated manuscripts from Mosul (Iraq) to Agra (India) provide clear evidence of a rich practice of figuration, including painted portraits of authors, patrons, and other important figures. With several notable exceptions, manuscripts of histories, poetic works, biographies, and other texts nevertheless evidence a pronounced reliance upon verbal, rather than pictorial, representations of likeness. This talk will address the complex relationship between textual and pictorial portrait imagery in the book arts of Greater Iran and South Asia from the 13th through the 17th centuries, focusing in particular on the Mughal court of northern India, which saw a marked shift towards a practice of mimetic portraiture rooted in optical, sensate experiences. 

Biographical Information: Yael Rice (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) specializes in the art and architecture of greater Iran and south Asia, with a particular focus on manuscripts and other portable arts of the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. Currently the Five College Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Islamic Art at Amherst College, she previously held the position of assistant curator of Indian and Himalayan Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 2009 till 2012. Her publications include studies of European engravings and Persian calligraphic specimens in Mughal royal albums, the 1598-99 MughalRazmnama (Book of war), and an early fifteenth century Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami copied and illustrated in the region of Fars, Iran. 
Rice's current research concerns physiognomic analysis as a courtly and artistic practice, Mughal depictions of imperial dreams, paintings made for the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707), and the cultural and material history of jade in early modern Central and South Asia. 

March 6, 2013
CS Student Collaboration Meet and Greet
Interested in collaborating with other CS students? Unsure of how to find out what amazing things CS students are studying? This special edition of the Wednesday Lunch will be a relaxed version of creativity center-style speed dating so that we can make those collaborations happen. Eat pizza and talk to a peer you've never talked to before, maybe make some new friends or find some people you want to work with, or catch up on a friend's work now that it's progressed a little.

February 27, 2013
Sexual Conflict and Genital Evolution in Waterfowl
Patricia L.R. Brennan, adjunct assistant professor of animal behavior

Abstract: Sexual conflict is expected to be widespread in nature as males and females do not fully share their evolutionary interests. Waterfowl provide a unique model system to study conflict in a system where female choice and resistance are distinct. In waterfowl sexual conflict over forced copulations has led to the evolution of unique functional morphology of male genitalia and coevolution between males and females that result from an evolutionary arms race as males try to bypass female choice and females resist male coercion. Male genitalia show remarkable phenotypic plasticity mediated by social interactions, in particular male-male competition. I will describe how my research is helping us better understand sexual conflict and the potentially important role of plasticity in genital evolution.

Biographical Information: Patty L. R. Brennan is adjunct assistant professor of animal behavior here at Hampshire College, teaching "Research in Avian Behavior" this term.

January 30, 2013
Division II Concentrations in Cognitive Science: Meeting Faculty, Getting Ideas
Are you looking for faculty to work with in Division II? Do you want some help turning your ideas into a Div II concentration? CS faculty and several students will talk about the journey. Are you interested in psychology, philosophy, animal behavior, computer science, animation, linguistics, neuroscience, communications, education, or science and religion? You will learn about CS faculty and hear from students about their Div II concentrations in CS.

Stay In Touch
With School of Cognitive Science (CS)
Snail Mail
School of Cognitive Science
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002