Spotlight image
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Hide

Welcome, First Years!

by Melissa Troyer


Welcome to the incoming first-year class of 2014, introduced here. (more)



Miller, L.E, Longo, M.R., Saygin, A.P. (2014). Tool morphology constrains the effects of tool use on body representations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. In press.
What factors constrain whether tool use modulates the user's body representations? To date, studies on representational plasticity following tool use have primarily focused on the act of using the tool. Here, we investigated whether the tool's morphology also serves to constrain plasticity. In 2 experiments, we varied whether the tool was morphologically similar to a target body part (Experiment 1, hand; Experiment 2, arm). Participants judged the tactile distance between pairs of points applied to their tool-using target body surface and forehead (control surface) before and after tool use. We applied touch in 2 orientations, allowing us to quantify how tool use modulates the representation's shape. Significant representational plasticity in hand shape (increase in width, decrease in length) was found when the tool was morphologically similar to a hand (Experiment 1A), but not when the tool was arm-shaped (Experiment 1B). Conversely, significant representational plasticity was found on the arm when the tool was arm-shaped (Experiment 2B), but not when hand-shaped (Experiment 2A). Taken together, our results indicate that morphological similarity between the tool and the effector constrains tool-induced representational plasticity. The embodiment of tools may thus depend on a match-to-template process between tool morphology and representation of the body.
Creel, S. C. (2014). Preschoolers’ flexible use of talker information during word learning. Journal of Memory and Language, 73, 81–98.
abstract Previous research suggests that preschool-aged children use novel information about talkers’ preferences (e.g. favorite colors) to guide on-line language processing. But can children encode information about talkers while simultaneously learning new words, and if so, how is talker information encoded? In five experiments, children learned pairs of early-overlapping words (geeb, geege); a particular talker spoke each word. Across experiments, children learned labels for novel referents, showing an advantage for original-voice repetitions of words which appeared to stem mainly from semantic person-referent mappings (who liked what referent). Specifically, children looked to voice-matched referents when a talker asked for their own favorite (‘‘I want to see the geege’’) or when the liker was unspecified (‘‘Point to the geege’’), but they looked to voice-mismatched referents when a talker asked on behalf of the other talker (‘‘Conor wants to see the geege’’). Initial looks to voice-matched referents were flexibly corrected when later information became available (Anna saying ‘‘Find the geege for Conor’’). Voice-matching looks vanished when talkers labeled the other talker’s favorite referent during learning, possibly because children had learned two conflicting person-referent mappings: Anna-likes-geeb vs. Anna-talks-about-geege. Results imply that children’s language input may be conditioned on talker context quite early in language learning.


Research Opportunities (199s)
  • Tools, Virtual Reality and Your Body
    In everyday life there is a boundary between our bodies and the external environment. Is this perceived boundary fixed or can it be altered? What happens to your body perception when you use a tool? What about when you immersed in virtual reality? The Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology Lab (http://www.sayginlab.org) ...
    (click for details)
  • Cognitive Processes
    “Raednig thees wrods semes to be esaeir tahn you mgiht hvae tohuhgt; waht colud epxlian tihs?” Could you read the sentence above? Having any trouble understanding or recognizing these words? How possible it could be to understand such a sentence, with/without recognize words? What could you explain your effortless ability ...
    (click for details)
  • Body Movements: Dots, Humans, Robots
    The perception and comprehension of others’ actions and body movements is ubiquitous and important. Our lab carries out a range of behavioral, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological experiments on how people perceive others' body movements. In many experiments, we use body movements depicted by point-lights (like this: http://sayginlab.org/bio-highkick.gif). We are also exploring ...
    (click for details)
  • Space, Time, and Gesture
    While it is clear that people around the world talk and think about time in terms of spatial concepts, many questions remain regarding the link between spatial and temporal concepts. The Embodied Cognition lab is interested in understanding cognition from the perspective of the embodied mind, investigating how the peculiarities ...
    (click for details)
  • Language Development and Remediation in Children
    We are evaluating two interventions for dyslexia that involve training the temporal dynamics of the visual system (magnocellular pathway) and the auditory system, and whether the two interventions together have super-additive effects. As a Research Assistant, you would be traveling to one or two of five participating local elementary schools ...
    (click for details)

Recent News & Links (see all)


UCSD Professor Uses Zombies To Teach About Neuroscience

KPBS article: There's no escaping zombies. They've infected every corner of pop culture and more recently have been shambling into academia. Professor Bradley Voytek combines the living dead and neuroscience in the new book, "Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?"


Founding Chair of Cognitive Science returns to UCSD

Don Norman, an engineer and psychologist famous for pushing companies to develop products that are easy to use, is setting up a design lab at UC San Diego, a campus he left decades ago to help shape the future of Apple Computer.


Coursera and UC San Diego Partner to Offer New Interaction Design Specialization

Learners in massive open online courses offered by Coursera can now enroll in 18 new Specializations – a targeted sequence of courses designed to build high-demand skills and subject matter expertise. One of the specializations  “Interaction Design”  is being led by University of California, San Diego Professor Scott Klemmer.


Brad Voytek and brainSCANr

BrainSCANr is designed to help neuroscientists choose research projects, a device by Bradley Voytek of the University of California, San Diego, and his wife Jessica.


UCSD Conference for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, & Humanities (CRASSH)

Are you an undergraduate interested in the Arts, Social Sciences, or Humanities?  Then consider presenting your research at the UCSD Undergraduate Conference for Research in the Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities (CRASSH) to be held on November 4 from 10am to 2pm at the UCSD Price Center.


Department Events (see all)

Patricia Churchland (CogSci Colloquium)

The Brains Behind Morality

Self-preservation is embodied in our brain’s circuitry: we seek food when hungry, warmth when cold, and mates when lusty. In the evolution of the mammalian brain, circuitry for regulating one’s own survival and well-being was modified. For sociality, the important result was that the ambit of me extends to include others -- me-and-mine. Offspring, mates, and kin came to be embraced in the sphere of me-ness; we nurture them, fight off threats to them, keep ...
(click for details)

Mon, Oct 27th, 12:00pm-1:00pm (CSB 003)
(3 days, 11 hours from now)


Judith Degen (CRL talk)

Context in pragmatic inference

In the face of underspecified utterances, listeners routinely and without much apparent effort make the right kinds of pragmatic inferences about a speaker’s intended meaning. I will present a series of studies investigating the processing of one type of inference -- scalar implicature -- as a way of addressing how listeners perform this remarkable feat. In particular, I will explore the role of context in the processing of scalar implicatures from “some” to “not all”. ...
(click for details)

Tue, Oct 28th, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CSB 280)
(4 days, 15 hours from now)


Faculty Meeting

Wed, Oct 29th, 12:00pm-2:00pm (CSB 180)
(5 days, 11 hours from now)


Tanya Luhrmann (CogSci Colloquium)

Invisible others: How metacognitive practices make the unseen real

For a while now my work has settled on the way that people monitor and attend to their cognitive and affective experiences. The first part of my talk will describe my ethnographic
work with evangelical Christians who seek a personal, intimate relationship with God—one
in which God will talk back. My work suggests that these Christians use prayer practice to
monitor their mental experience and that they selectively ...
(click for details)

Mon, Nov 3rd, 12:00pm-1:00pm (CSB 003)
(1 week, 3 days from now)


CRL talk

Tue, Nov 4th, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CSB 280)
(1 week, 4 days from now)


Campus-wide Events (see all)

Michael C. Crair (Neurobiology talk)

Activity Dependent Neural Circuit Development Prior to Sensory Experience

In the brains of mammals, birds, and invertebrates, the sensory world is organized into regular neuronal arrays, or maps. Common examples are the map of body surface in the somatosensory cortex (the so called "homunculus") and the representation of oriented bars, or edges, in the visual cortex. Dr. Crair is interested in understanding how genes ('nature') and the environment ('nurture') interact to guide the development of neuronal maps. His ...
(click for details)

Mon, Oct 27th, 12:00pm-1:00pm (Marilyn G. Farquhar Seminar Room, CNCB)
(3 days, 11 hours from now)


Emmanuel Mignot (Pharmacology talk)

Immunological and Genetic Aspects of Narcolepsy

Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD
Department of Psychiatry, Sleep Medicine
Stanford University, School of Medicine

Host: William Joiner
(click for details)

Tue, Oct 28th, 12:00pm-1:00pm (Leichtag Building, Room 107)
(4 days, 11 hours from now)


Eran Mukamel (Psych talk)

Computational Networks of the Brain: From Epigenomes to Global Brain States

How do complex biological networks, composed of thousands to millions of interacting and dynamic units, coordinate the information processing that is essential for healthy brain function? This broad question applies equally to the gene regulatory networks that govern the identity and adaptability of brain cell types, and to the networks of synaptically coupled neurons whose electrical activity underlies cognitive behavior. A computational perspective is essential for understanding the ...
(click for details)

Tue, Oct 28th, 12:00pm-1:00pm (Crick Conference Room (third floor of Mandler Hall))
(4 days, 11 hours from now)


Roman Giger (Neuro talk)

Neural circuit assembly, plasticity, and repair in CNS health and injury

Dr. Roman Giger's research pursues a mouse genetic approach to study the function of different classes of proteins that are known to regulate neuronal growth during development, adult plasticity, and following injury (i.e. stroke, spinal cord or traumatic brain injury, and multiple sclerosis). Dr. Giger's lab has uncovered functional redundancy among CSPG receptors, discovering that Nogo receptor family members NgR1 and NgR3 participate in CPSG inhibition in cultured ...
(click for details)

Tue, Oct 28th, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CNCB Marilyn Farquhar Seminar Room (formerly Large Conference Room))
(4 days, 15 hours from now)