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Welcome, First Years!

by Melissa Troyer


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



Bregman, M. R., & Creel, S. C. (2014). Gradient language dominance affects talker learning. Cognition, 130(1), 85–95. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2013.09.010
Traditional conceptions of spoken language assume that speech recognition and talker identification are computed separately. Neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies imply some separation between the two faculties, but recent perceptual studies suggest better talker recognition in familiar languages than unfamiliar languages. A familiar-language benefit in talker recognition potentially implies strong ties between the two domains. However, little is known about the nature of this language familiarity effect. The current study investigated the relationship between speech and talker processing by assessing bilingual and monolingual listeners’ ability to learn voices as a function of language familiarity and age of acquisition. Two effects emerged. First, bilinguals learned to recognize talkers in their first language (Korean) more rapidly than they learned to recognize talkers in their second language (English), while English-speaking participants showed the opposite pattern (learning English talkers faster than Korean talkers). Second, bilinguals’ learning rate for talkers in their second language (English) correlated with age of English acquisition. Taken together, these results suggest that language background materially affects talker encoding, implying a tight relationship between speech and talker representations.
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.
Borovsky, A., & Creel, S. C. (2014). Children and adults integrate talker and verb information in online processing. Developmental Psychology, 50(5), 1600–13. doi:10.1037/a0035591
Children seem able to efficiently interpret a variety of linguistic cues during speech comprehension, yet have difficulty interpreting sources of nonlinguistic and paralinguistic information that accompany speech. The current study asked whether (paralinguistic) voice-activated role knowledge is rapidly interpreted in coordination with a linguistic cue (a sentential action) during speech comprehension in an eye-tracked sentence comprehension task with children (ages 3–10 years) and college-aged adults. Participants were initially familiarized with 2 talkers who identified their respective roles (e.g., PRINCESS and PIRATE) before hearing a previously introduced talker name an action and object (“I want to hold the sword,” in the pirate’s voice). As the sentence was spoken, eye movements were recorded to 4 objects that varied in relationship to the sentential talker and action (target: SWORD, talker-related: SHIP, action-related: WAND, and unrelated: CARRIAGE). The task was to select the named image. Even young child listeners rapidly combined inferences about talker identity with the action, allowing them to fixate on the target before it was mentioned, although there were developmental and vocabulary differences on this task. Results suggest that children, like adults, store real-world knowledge of a talker’s role and actively use this information to interpret speech.


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) ...
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  • 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 ...
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  • 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 ...
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  • 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 ...
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  • 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 ...
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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.


Jamie Alexandre is awarded a Chancellor's Dissertation Medal - 2014

The purpose of the Chancellor's Dissertation Medal is to recognize outstanding PhD research in one of six divisional 
areas.


Andrea Chiba, one of four UCSD Faculty to receive "Early Concept" grants from Obama's BRAIN Initiative

Andrea Chiba, associate professor of cognitive science, for “Socially Situated Neuroscience: Creating a Suite of Tools for Studying Sociality and Interoception.” “The “interoceptive” system is said to be a neural system that is critical to our physiological self-awareness and the feelings we share with others,” said Chiba.“This project aims to co-develop light, wireless, flexible recording sensors, an iRat (a robotic ‘animat’ with rat-like social behavior) and a set of experiments to interrogate the ‘interoceptive system’ by simultaneously examining physiological measures, neural activity and complex social behavior.” Primary researchers on the grant, in addition to Chiba, are Laleh Quinn, Todd Coleman and Marcelo Aguilar-Rivera of UC San Diego and Janet Wiles of the University of Queensland Australia.


Department Events (see all)

Morana Alac (CRL talk)

Social robots: things or agents?

In our digital, post-analog times, questions of where the world stops and the screen starts, and how to discern the boundary between agency and things are common. A source of such a conundrum are social robots. For their designers, social robots are fascinating as they combine aspects of machines with those of living creatures: they offer the opportunity to ask how matter can be orchestrated to generate impressions of life and sociality. Social science ...
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Tue, Oct 21st, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CSB 280)
(16 hours from now)


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


CRL talk

Tue, Oct 28th, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CSB 280)
(1 week from now)


Faculty Meeting

Wed, Oct 29th, 12:00pm-2:00pm (CSB 180)
(1 week, 1 day from now)


Campus-wide Events (see all)

Anne Milasincic Andrews (KIBM talk)

Decoding Serotonin Transmission

Serotonin is believed to be involved in the regulation of
emotion-related behavior and the etiology and treatment of mood and
anxiety disorders. Yet direct evidence for encoding of emotionally
salient information has not been forthcoming largely due to the
inability to investigate serotonin signaling in a highly time-resolved
manner. We have developed paradigms for measuring serotonin
neurotransmission on minute-by-minute (fast microdialysis) and
second-by-second (voltammetry) time scales. These approaches enable us
to record changes in extracellular serotonin ...
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Tue, Oct 21st, 12:00pm-1:00pm (Natural Sciences Building, Auditorium, UC San Diego)
(12 hours from now)


Eva-Maria Schoetz Collins (BioCircuits talk)

Neuronal control of escape behavior in planarians

Planarians are famous and widely studied for their regenerative capabilities. When a moving planarian is cut through the middle, the resulting head and tail pieces instantaneously retract and the head piece exhibits a characteristic escape response that differs from normal locomotion. In asexual animals, a similar reaction is observed when the planarian undergoes fission, suggesting that reproduction through self-tearing is a rather traumatic event for the animal.

Using a multiscale approach, ...
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Tue, Oct 21st, 2:00pm-3:00pm (CNCB Marilyn Farquhar Seminar Room (formerly Large Conference Room))
(14 hours from now)


Kausik Si (Neuro talk)

The biochemical basis of the persistence of memory

Dr. Kausik Si is interested in understanding how a persistent memory is formed and why just some experiences - but not others - induce memory formation. His recent work has led to a potential biochemical mechanism addressing both of these issues. Dr. Si’s lab has found that the prion-like behavior of a neuronal cytoplasmic polyadenylation element binding protein (CPEB) is required specifically for the persistence of memory in Drosophila. Investigating ...
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Tue, Oct 21st, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CNCB Marilyn Farquhar Seminar Room (formerly Large Conference Room))
(16 hours from now)


Douglas Nitz (DNS-TDLC talk)

FROM PARTS TO WHOLE IN SPACE AND TIME

Nobel Prize-winning place cells of the hippocampus and grid cells of the medial entorhinal cortex are rightly celebrated as cornerstones of the brain’s global positioning system. Yet, the neural dynamics generated by these structures in collaboration with the posterior parietal cortex also provide a framework by which other, highly complex forms of cognition emerge. Together, these three brain regions play a critical role in generating and structuring episodic memory and in ...
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Wed, Oct 22nd, 3:00pm-4:00pm (Sanford Consortium / Duane J. Roth Auditorium - 2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr., La Jolla, California)
(1 day, 15 hours from now)


Careers in Scientific Publishing Seminar

Careers in Scientific Publishing

It is now clear that the number of new PhDs vastly surpasses the availability of tenure-track faculty positions. Luckily, there are various alternatives for newly minted scientists looking for careers outside academia. For example, many journals employ professional editors to handle the evaluation and peer review of manuscripts. This talk will give you an overview of the ins and outs of scientific publishing.

Alexander Arguello, PhD
Associate Editor, Nature Neuroscience
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Thu, Oct 23rd, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CNCB Marilyn Farquhar Seminar Room (formerly Large Conference Room))
(2 days, 16 hours from now)