CogFest Day 1

Undergraduate Poster Session

Thompson Library, 11th Floor, Campus Reading Room

The poster session was an opportunity for undergraduate students to share their research with the Cognitive Science community at Ohio State and interact with faculty and students from across the University who are also working on questions related to human cognition, including learning, memory, perception, language, and decision making, from behavioral, applied, computational modeling, and cognitive neuroscience perspectives.


Speaker Series

Dr. Nicholas Turk-Browne of Yale University presented:
Rethinking memory systems for statistical learning
Hosted by the Psychology Department Cognitive Area

Abstract: Dogma states that memory can be divided into distinct types, based on whether conscious or not, one-shot or statistical, autobiographical or factual, sensory or motor, etc. These distinctions have been supported by dissociations in brain localization, task performance, developmental trajectories, and pharmacological interventions, among other techniques. A natural consequence is the assumption of a one-to-one mapping between brain systems and memory behaviors. Aside from theoretical concerns about dissociation logic, there have also now been several empirical demonstrations of where these boundaries break down, from contributions of the hippocampus to reward learning and motor behavior to rapid episodic-like learning in frontal cortex. These considerations suggest that behavior is overdetermined by multiple memory systems. As a case study, I will describe a series of neuroimaging, neuropsychological, and computational studies implicating the hippocampal system in statistical learning, a function more traditionally ascribed to cortical systems. I will end by considering some open questions that arise from this perspective, including about how the function and balance of memory systems changes over development and how multiple memory signals are integrated to guide behavior.

Dr. Andries Coetzee of the University of Michigan presented:
Radically Individualized Linguistic Competence

Hosted by the Linguistics Department

Abstract: The phonetics/phonology research tradition of the past five or six decades tended to treat languages as mostly invariant systems that can be subjected to description and analysis (e.g., the syllable structure of Language X, the acoustics of sibilants in Language Y, etc.). Recent years, however, have seen an increased move towards recognizing variation between individual language users, even within the same speech community. In this talk, I argue that we need to broaden our focus from languages as undifferentiated, invariant systems to include the communities that speak these languages, as well as the individual members of these communities. Such a broader focus will result in a fuller understanding of the human capacity for language.

I review three studies from the Michigan Phonetics/Phonology Laboratory showing how a focus on average community patterns of variation can result in missing important generalisations: (i) post-nasal devoicing in Tswana, (ii) plosive devoicing/tonogenesis in Afrikaans, and (iii) anticipatory nasalization in Afrikaans. Based on these results, I propose extending the classic generative notion of “grammatical competence” to a broader concept of “linguistic competence”. This broader linguistic competence encompasses classic grammatical competence, but also all other aspects of an individual’s cognitive and social abilities that contribute towards how that individual performs linguistically. Since individuals can differ significantly in terms of most of the components that contribute to this broader linguistic competence, individual differences are expected rather than surprising.