The Lure of the New
Symposia Abstracts and Speakers
Use the links below for quick access to a particular symposium.
- Embodied Cognition and Mental Simulation
- Imagery, Dance and Creativity
- Computational Modelling of Brain Processes
- Sounds for Communication
- Current trends in deception research
- Developments in infant speech perception
- Engineering Creativity - can the arts help scientific research more directly?
Embodied Cognition and Mental Simulation
The symbol systems paradigm inspired by formal theories of logic, language, and computation has dominated explanations of cognition, proposing that amodal symbol representations, which are independent from the sensorimotor processes, support language, thinking, attention, memory, and meaning. In contrast, grounded (embodied) cognition theory proposes that cognition is grounded in sensorimotor processing and introspective states. Recently, tests of this theory have yielded compelling evidence that modal processing does affect cognition, including meaning, even when task irrelevant, and vice versa. However, little is yet known about when, how, and how much cognition is grounded and about the brain mechanisms. The mechanism proposed for grounding cognition is mental simulation, which is a type of mental imagery that re-enacts modal processing. This symposium covers scientific evidence for embodiment and how top-down processes of mental simulation can ground (embody) cognition in sensorimotor processes.
Current trends in deception research
Deceptive behaviour is common in our society and often it can lead to negative consequences. This is why societies have been studying deception and have been attempting to find methods to detect it for a long time. In most cases, deception requires the creative generation of alternative plausible scenarios that could have been true but were not, using information stored in memory. The symposium will touch upon this and many other aspects of lying, with a focus on current trends in deception and deception detection research.
Sounds for Communication
How should sounds be constructed in order to communicate information effectively? Sounds convey information between distal objects; they have the advantage of not requiring a direct line of sight and so are particularly useful for example in communicating warnings or attracting mates. However, listeners receive a signal that combines all of the sounds present in the environment at any given time, posing problems for the auditory system in disentangling them. Which aspects of sounds make them salient within crowded environments? How should they be structured to ensure they can be easily understood? What solutions does nature suggest?
Developments in infant speech perception
Around their first birthday, infants are typically beginning to produce their first recognisable words, a stage which can be perceived by parents as the start of language development. However, during the months preceding this landmark, infants need to acquire a formidable range of skills, the critical building blocks for language production and understanding. For example, they must discover the sounds of their native language, and learn to break up the continuous speech stream into discrete words. Furthermore, infants growing up in bilingual or multilingual environments – a challenge faced by perhaps half the world’s population – need to learn to distinguish the various languages they encounter. This symposium will consider these important stages of language acquisition through cutting-edge research, focusing on speech perception in the first two years of life. We will discuss how infants deal with variations in speech sounds within their native Language distinguish between and learn to extract words using acoustic markers such as timing and pitch and regularities in the ordering of speech sounds.
Engineering Creativity - can the arts help scientific research more directly?
There is a long and fruitful history of artists taking inspiration from scientific discoveries and experiments, and even of scientific data being used directly to create visual or aural art forms. Furthermore the arts have also been regularly used as a method of encouraging public engagement with scientific ideas and discoveries. This symposium investigates the more recent and more direct application of the arts to scientific research. For example science fiction writers being used to help brainstorm funding applications for artificial intelligence projects, or musical commissions lead to non-musical scientific research proposals. It still remains important to maintain a division between the arts and the sciences – otherwise how can one inspire the other when they are both the same? However a more conscious, active and frequent input of artistic results into generating scientific results, is a state of affairs this symposium would like to encourage and investigate.
Imagery, Dance and Creativity.
Modern choreography has developed a wide variety of techniques for generating novel and original movement sequences, and for arranging them into pieces of dance. Pilot research conducted with Random Dance and the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance has explored the role of mental imagery within creative movement generation at several different levels of explanation. These have included: the neural basis of imagery, and the use of mental representations by expert dancers as they create or think about movement; the cognitive level of strategic recruitment of different modalities of imagery according to variations in task requirements; the social level of distributed creativity through the selection and imitation of key group members as exemplars; and at a sociocultural level through the use of imagery as a communicative device to explain the choreographic intentions or process to audiences and other practitioners.
Computational Modelling of Brain Processes
Cognitive function ultimately resides in the physical substrate of the brain. This workshop considers modelling advances towards an understanding and prediction of large-scale brain activity with special focus on the dynamic mechanisms underlying flexible decision making and the assembling of novel "creative" representations in neural circuits. These issues are addressed from utilistic, probabilistic, and neural mechanistic perspectives. Future perspectives of modelling large scale brain activity are outlined.