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First-year cognitive students at Cognitive Brown Bag, Weds. 4/29 at noon

The first-year graduate students in the cognitive division (Junha Chang, Qiuli Ma, and Merika Wilson) will be presenting their first year projects in the Cognitive Brown Bag series in Tobin 521B at noon Wednesday, April 29. Everyone is welcome.

Junha’s talk: Does the quality of target representation reduce the dual target cost in visual search?

Qiuli’s talk: Dilution and working memory

Merika’s talk: The Representational Hierarchical Account: A new theory of amnesia.

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Duchaine at NSB Seminar Series, Weds. 4/29 at 4 p.m.

Brad Duchaine (Dartmouth College, Psychological and Brain Sciences) will be presenting Investigating Social Perception via Prosopagnosia in the NSB Seminar Series in 222 Morrill II at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 29. Everyone is welcome.

His lab uses neuropsychology, psychophysics, neuroimaging, twin studies, and TMS to explore the cognitive, neural, developmental, and genetic basis of social perception. Much of his work focuses on prosopagnosia, a condition defined by severe face recognition deficits.

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Keil at Five College Cognitive Science Speaker series, Thurs. 4/23 at 1 p.m.

Frank Keil (Yale University) will be presenting The Growth of Explanatory Insight: Causal Understanding and the Outsourced Mind as part of the Five College Cognitive Science Speaker series in Tobin 423 at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 23. Everyone is welcome – the abstract is below.

Abstract: Despite having highly impoverished understandings of the world at the mechanistic level, children and adults alike have strong interests in mechanistic explanations. These seemingly futile interests in mechanisms may in fact support the development of everyday understandings by enabling even the very young to build a sense of causal patterns that exist far above the level of mechanisms. That sense of causal patterns then works in combination with strategies for identifying and evaluating both experts and their explanations, enabling lay people of all ages to supplement their highly incomplete knowledge by accessing and relying on the divisions of cognitive labor that exist in all cultures. Illusions of explanatory depth and insight, as well as biases concerning distribution of knowledge across minds, create a false impression of the nature of folk science. Studies on the development of folk science in children, however, offer a more cognitively feasible account for all ages and levels of expertise.

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Zobel at Cognitive Brown Bag, Weds. 4/15 at noon

Ben Zobel (PhD Candidate in PBS) will be presenting A neurobehavioral test of discrete-state and continuous recognition memory models in the Cognitive Brown Bag series in Tobin 521B at noon Wednesday, April 15. Everyone is welcome – the abstract is below.

Abstract: Behavioral and ERP measures were used to test the predictions of two models of recognition memory: 1) the Double High-Threshold Model (2HT), which posits that recognition memory involves judgements based on discrete mental states, and Signal Detection Theory (SDT), which posits that recognition memory involves judgements based on continuous values of memory strength. Behavioral analysis provided strong evidence in support of SDT and against 2HT. However, ERP analysis of the FN400, a putative index of memory strength, was not consistent with either model, suggesting that 1) the FN400 may not be a comprehensive index of memory strength, as previously assumed, but may only be useful at sufficiently high levels of strength, or 2) the FN400 may not index strength at all, but may instead represent an N400 effect facilitated by semantic/conceptual priming arising from word repetition (Voss and Federmeier, 2011).

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DeGraff at Freeman Lecture, Fri. 4/10 at 3:30 p.m.

Michel DeGraff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be presenting on Kreyol Pale, Kreyol Konprann: Power/knowledge at the Crossroads of History, Linguistics & Education in Haiti in the Freeman Lecture in ILC N151 at 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 10. Everyone is welcome.

DeGraff specializes in syntax, morphology, language change, Creole studies, Haitian Creole, education in Haiti, and the linguistics-ideology interface. In his Freeman Lecture, he will discuss his participation in and the rationale, accomplishments and prospects of the MIT-Haiti Initiative, which is a project for the development, evaluation and dissemination of active-learning resources in Kreyòl (the national language of Haiti and one of its two official languages) to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education plus leadership and management in Haiti.

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Loewer at Philosophy Colloquium, Fri. 4/10 at 3:30 p.m.

Barry Loewer of Rutgers University will be presenting The Mentaculus Vision in the UMass Philosophy Colloquium in Bartlett 206 at 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 10. Everyone is welcome – a description* of his work is below:

I will describe a proposal for the structure for a fundamental physical theory that makes connections between statistical mechanics, cosmology, the metaphysics of time, laws, objective probabilities, counterfactuals and causation, and some issues in epistemology.

*This is the abstract for a talk of the same name that he was supposed to give at Rutgers last week. An abstract for the current talk is not posted.

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Chen at Cognitive Brown Bag, Weds. 4/8 at noon

Tina Chen (PhD Candidate in PBS) will be presenting Not just noise: Individual differences in response bias in memory and reasoning in the Cognitive Brown Bag series in Tobin 521B at noon Wednesday, April 8. Everyone is welcome – the abstract is below.

Abstract: Response bias is a component of decision-making that can be defined as the general willingness to respond a certain way. For example, in recognition memory, one can have a response bias towards responding that a test item has been previously studied, or in reasoning, one can have a response bias towards responding that a conclusion is logically valid. However, not all individuals have the same response bias. Indeed, there is some evidence that response bias is a stable cognitive trait in memory that differs across individuals (Kantner & Lindsay, 2012, 2014). One predictor of this trait may be cognitive ability, since it appears to predict response bias in memory (Zhu et al., 2010) and in reasoning (e.g., Handley & Trippas, 2015). While memory and reasoning have similar decision-making components and may be very related (e..g, Heit & Hayes, 2011; Heit, Rotello, & Hayes, 2012), this experiment will be the first to demonstrate whether cognitive ability predicts response bias in both tasks. Preliminary findings will be presented.

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Gligoric at Computer Science Seminar, Thurs. 4/2 at 4pm

Milos Gligoric (PhD candidate in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) will be presenting Regression Testing: Theory and Practice in the Computer Science Seminar series in CS150 at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 2. Everyone is welcome – the abstract is below.

Abstract: Developers often build regression test suites that are automatically run for each code revision to check that code changes  did not break any functionality.  While regression testing is important, it is also expensive due to both the number of revisions and the number of tests.  For example, Google recently reported that they observed a quadratic increase in daily test-suite run time (a linear increase in the number of revisions per day and a linear increase in the number of tests per revision).

In this talk, I present a technique, called Ekstazi, to substantially reduce test-suite run time.  Ekstazi introduces a novel approach to regression test selection, which runs only a subset of tests whose dependencies may be affected by the latest changes; Ekstazi keeps file dependencies for each test. Ekstazi also speeds up test-suite runs for software that uses modern distributed version-control systems; by modeling different branch and merge commands directly, Ekstazi computes test sets that can be significantly smaller than the entire test suite.  I developed Ekstazi for JVM languages and evaluated it on several hundred revisions of 32 open-source projects (totaling 5M lines of code).  Ekstazi can reduce test-suite run time an order of magnitude, including runs for merge revisions.  Finally, only a few months after the initial release, Ekstazi was adopted and used daily by many developers from several open-source projects, including Apache Camel, Commons Math, and CXF.

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Munoz at PREP Intern Poster Session, Fri. 4/3 at 5pm

Miriam Munoz (postbac student in Lisa Sander’s NeuroCognition and Perception Lab) and others (including students in Alexandra Jesse’s Language, Intersensory Perception, and Speech Lab, Rebecca Spencer’s Cognition and Action Lab, and David Moorman’s neuroscience lab; click here for a full list) will be presenting their research in UMass’s 2015 Annual Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) Poster Session in the Marriott Center, 11th floor of the Campus Center from 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 3. Everyone is welcome.

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Levy at Cognitive Brown Bag, Weds. 4/1 at noon

Joshua Levy (graduate student in PBS) will be presenting Category Learning of Musical Chords in the Cognitive Brown Bag series in Tobin 521B at noon Wednesday, April 1. Everyone is welcome – the abstract is below.

Abstract: Musical chords can vary with respect to several music-theoretic attributes, such as root, quality, and inversion. In ear training classes, musicians are expected to learn to identify these attributes of a chord upon as little as a single presentation. We present data from a supervised category learning task (Shepard et al., 1961) examining the rate of learning of these attributes. In the task, subjects are asked to induce a rule that groups eight chords into two categories. While some subjects learn a simple music-theoretic rule (e.g. root position vs. first inversion), other subjects learn a complex music-atheoretic rule (e.g. major root position or minor first inversion vs. minor root position or major first inversion). The results show unequal learning rates of each attribute when learning music-theoretic rules. Morever, learning rates are in some cases even higher when learning music-atheoretic rules that partition the eight chords according to the average frequency of the three notes in a chord. Average frequency is a perceptually salient attribute that subjects rely upon when first learning to categorize chords.