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Cognitive Science Speaker Series

Unless otherwise noted, all talks are Wednesdays 12:30–2:30 in Ross Hall S421. Some talks will be held remotely on Zoom. In these cases, the Zoom link will be emailed to all students and faculty from Cognitive Science and Philosophy. If you're affiliated with York but not in one of those groups, and want to receive the Zoom links, email from your York email address.

Speaker Series 2023-2024

September 20

Blake Richards (McGill University)

Sequential Predictive Learning is a Unifying Theory for Hippocampal Functions

The mammalian hippocampus contains spatially tuned cells and can generate offline simulations for the purposes of recall, planning, and long-term memory formation. The hippocampus has also been shown to engage in prediction of upcoming events, and spatially tuned cells emerge in recurrent neural networks trained to predict, suggesting a potential link between prediction, spatial tuning, memory, and offline simulation. However, a unifying theory is still lacking. Here, we show that predictive learning of egocentric sensory inputs and the presence of spatially-tuned cells do not guarantee the ability to engage in offline simulations or recall recent locations. Offline simulations only emerged when networks used recurrent connections and head-direction information to predict multiple steps into the future, which promoted the formation of a continuous attractor manifold in which population activity reflected the spatial topology of the environment. Specifically, these networks generated realistic trajectories from noise and were able to replay recently experienced locations. Finally, a multi-step predictive algorithm inspired by sequential spiking in the hippocampus led to faster and more efficient learning. Altogether, our results demonstrate how continuous attractors can emerge in neural networks engaged in sequential predictive learning, which provides a unifying theory for hippocampal functions and hippocampal-inspired approaches to artificial intelligence.

October 4

Yang Xu (University of Toronto)

Discovering Shared Knowledge of Human Lexical Creativity

A defining property of the human lexicon is the creative use of words to express multiple meanings through word meaning extension (WME). Such lexical creativity is manifested across languages and at different timescales, ranging from historical evolution of word meanings to child language development. I describe work exploring the idea that different manifestations of WME might build on a common cognitive foundation: a shared repertoire of knowledge grounded in human experience. Taking a computational approach, I show that models drawing on multiple sources of information such as associativity, visual perception, and taxonomy, can jointly predict patterns of word meaning extension observed across languages and in speech errors made by young children. These findings suggest a unified view of human lexical creativity that connects the evolutionary products of phylogeny across languages with the fleeting products of individual ontogeny. I discuss the implications of this work toward understanding the cognitive mechanisms in the creative construction of the lexicon.

October 25

Carrie Branch (University of Western Ontario)

Sexual Selection, Female Choice, and Cognitive Adaptation in a Food-Caching Bird

Environmental gradients often create different selective pressures among populations and may drive local adaptation. Along mountain slopes, heterogeneity occurs rapidly and predictably, resulting in local adaptions on a rather small spatial scale. Mountain chickadees are food-caching birds that inhabit a continuous elevation gradient associated with predictable variation in winter climate, such that birds living at higher elevations experience harsher winter conditions compared to their lower elevation counterparts. These birds use spatial cognition to recover their food stores and survive winter. Previous research shows that individuals at higher elevations exhibit superior cognitive abilities and associated brain morphology compared to their lower elevation counterparts. During my talk, I will present evidence for evolution by natural selection on the spatial cognitive abilities of mountain chickadees inhabiting these differentially harsh winter climates and the role females play in maintaining local adaptation.

November 8

Lily Hu (Yale University)

Does Calibration Mean What They Say It Means; Or, The Reference Class Problem Rises Again

Discussions of statistical criteria for fairness commonly convey the normative significance of calibration within groups by invoking what risk scores “mean.” On the Same Meaning picture, group-calibrated scores “mean the same thing” (on average) across individuals from different groups and accordingly, guard against disparate treatment of individuals based on group membership. My contention is that calibration guarantees no such thing. Since concrete actual people belong to many groups, calibration cannot ensure the kind of consistent score interpretation that the Same Meaning picture implies matters for fairness, unless calibration is met within every group to which an individual belongs. Alas only perfect predictors may meet this bar. The Same Meaning picture thus commits a reference class fallacy by inferring from calibration within some group to the “meaning” or evidential value of an individual’s score, because they are a member of that group. Furthermore, the reference class answer it presumes is almost surely wrong. I then show that the reference class problem besets not just calibration but all group statistical facts that claim a close connection to fairness. Reflecting on the origins of this error opens a wider lens onto the predominant methodology in algorithmic fairness based on stylized cases.

Winter 2024

January 17

Christina Starmans (University of Toronto)

How Temptation Makes Us Moral

We often know the right thing to do, but also feel tempted to do the wrong thing—to cheat on our taxes or our spouses, lie to avoid trouble, or skip out on an obligation. How do these struggles with temptation affect our moral judgments?

In this talk I will review a series of studies examining how both adults and young children reason about inner conflict and temptation. These studies find that in most cases, adults judge that someone who has acted morally in the face of temptation deserves more moral credit than someone who acted morally but was never tempted to be immoral. Conversely, children (aged 38 years) give more moral credit to the person who was never tempted to act immorally. I’ll discuss some theories for how children’s moral intuitions come to match those of adults and argue that these developmental changes may help us understand certain puzzles in adults’ moral reasoning.

January 31

Robert Geirhos (Google DeepMind)

Do Machines See the World Like Humans?

From ChatGPT to models that generate images from a text description, today’s deep learning models are more powerful than ever and increasingly reach human-level performance on challenging tasks. But do machines see the world like humans, or completely differently? I will discuss recent advances in comparing machine and human vision, focusing on the task of recognizing objects from images. After a broader introduction to the area, I’ll talk about our recent work on using generative, rather than discriminative, models for recognizing objects from images. These models show four intriguing emergent properties: they recognize objects by shape rather than texture, achieve near human-level accuracy even on heavily distorted images, make more human-like errors, and they understand certain perceptual illusions. This indicates that even though machines don’t fully see the world like humans, the gap is narrowing year by year, sometimes even month by month.

February 14

Daniel Munro (York University)

Conspiracy Theories and the Epistemic Power of Narratives

The truth can be emotionally painful or otherwise difficult to confront. We often try to distract ourselves from ugly truths by retreating to familiar, comforting stories (think: a classic rom-com you’ve seen a dozen times, or a cookie-cutter true crime documentary that ends with justice being served). Such stories can do us a lot of good. However, this talk explores a darker side of our tendency to use comforting narratives as a way of avoiding difficult truths. I argue that false conspiracy theories are often packaged as part of such emotionally comforting narratives. Furthermore, I argue that this way of packaging and disseminating conspiracy theories can make people more likely to believe them, since it gives conspiracy theories a greater ring of truth than the facts. My account of conspiracy narratives helps to bring out some more general considerations about the power of narratives for misleading people into believing falsehoods.

March 6

Dora Biro (University of Rochester)

Collective knowledge in animal groups: From the ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ to cultural evolution

Living in groups poses a range of challenges and opportunities, in which individual perceptual and cognitive powers can be pooled to give rise to complex collective outcomes. For example, how animals travelling in groups collectively perceive, map, and orient through space addresses enduring questions in animal navigation and collective decision-making, while regional variation in groups’ behavioural “traditions” underscores the profound influence of the social context on the emergence and maintenance of learnt behaviour. I will illustrate these examples with research in avian and primate study systems to highlight how, in combination with laboratory and field experimentation, a range of biologging technologies (on-board GPS, head-mounted sensors, accelerometers) and other remote sensing and data processing techniques (camera traps, AI-based automated video analysis) can now provide us with varied novel insights into animal behaviour. These are related both to basic processes of perception and cognition (learning and memory), and to more complex collective outcomes such as collective problem-solving, collective vigilance, the ‘wisdom of the crowd’, and the cultural accumulation of collective knowledge. These insights have important implications for our understanding not only of the psychological machinery that underlies animals’ ability to cope with specific problems posed by their environment, but also of their capacity to adapt when these environments undergo rapid change. 

Past Events

September 21st

Elizabeth Schechter (University of Maryland)

Consciousness and agency after split-brain surgery

In this talk, I respond to a recent paper by Pinto and colleagues describing empirical work purportedly demonstrating that consciousness remains unified after split-brain surgery. The paper in question argues that a preserved capacity for cross-responding, after split-brain surgery, demonstrates that a split-brain subject remains a unitary conscious agent, and that therefore split-brain consciousness itself remains unified. I first address the question of under what conditions a preserved capacity for cross-responding provides evidence for unified agency. I then discuss the picture of conscious unity Pinto sketches, arguing that its acceptance would require developing an account of conscious unity that distinguishes it from the having of a unitary perspective.

October 5th

Patrick Cavanagh (York University)

Illusions of position and art reveal the language of vision

Abstract: Illusions are errors in perception and we can use them not only to uncover the processes underlying vision but also to identify where perception emerges in the brain. I will first present examples involving the effect of motion on position. These illusions show how the brain constructs what we see and, surprisingly, it appears to do so outside the visual system, in the frontal lobes. We have also uncovered a remarkable effect of moving frames on position that suggests a hierarchy of frameworks for coding scene organization. However, the most compelling visual illusion is representational art, where impressions of depth and light arise from nothing more than pigments on a flat surface. Moreover, paintings often include impossible shadows, shapes, and reflections that go unnoticed by viewers – these undetected errors are the ones that tell us which rules of physics actually count for visual perception and which can be ignored. Finally, I will suggest that vision communicates with the rest of the brain in a language format. The possibility of a visual language raises the question of how its grammar is acquired and whether this acquisition process was borrowed and adapted for spoken language.

October 26th

Barbara Fredrickson (UNC at Chapel Hill) — Zoom

The Goods in Everyday Love:  Implications for Individuals and Communities

Abstract:  Professor Barbara Fredrickson has investigated the nature of positive emotions for more than three decades.  In this virtual colloquium she will share her foundational Broaden-and-Build Theory of positive emotions as a backdrop for her latest thinking and evidence on the value of those positive emotions that individuals co-experience with others in day-to-day positive social connections.  Mental health and resilience grows stronger through these shared moments of emotional uplift—they help individuals bounce back to wellbeing from illbeing. Moments of positivity resonance within close relationships predict trajectories of chronic illness and longevity. Character virtues also grow stronger: When people connect over positivity they gain greater appreciations for oneness, altruism and humility, benefits that stand to benefit whole communities. Dr. Fredrickson will highlight the evidence that supports these conclusions and also describe a simple “micro-intervention” that anyone can use to increase positive connections to reap the associated benefits.

November 9th

Zoe Jenkin (Washington University)

Encapsulated Failures

Abstract: Agents are rationally required to respond to their reasons. When agents violate this requirement, they are thereby irrational. What is the scope of the requirement to respond to reasons? The scope clearly includes person-level failures to respond to reasons, such as those due to pride or indolence. This paper considers whether failure to respond to reasons due to basic features of cognitive architecture, specifically informational encapsulation, are also within the scope of the requirement to respond to reasons. Informational encapsulation in perception, social cognition, emotion, and other subsystems renders some reasons inaccessible, due not to character traits or epistemic habits, but simply to how human minds are constructed. I consider two polarized positions: Austerity, on which we are only required to respond to the reasons that are accessible in the moment, and Lenience, on which accessibility is irrelevant. I argue that neither position is correct. Instead, I propose an alternative called Architectural Sensitivity according to which an agent’s degree of irrationality is sensitive to the degree of encapsulation of her subsystems.

January 18th

Bill Kowalsky (York University)

A Minimal Bayesian Realism for Perceptual Systems

Abstract: In recent decades, scientific modeling of perception has made extensive and fruitful use of tools adopted from Bayesian decision theory. The success of such “Bayesian models” has led philosophers and psychologists to ask about their realism: how much psychologically real structure is captured by them? I propose, first, a reframing of the question. The relevant questions of realism pertain to the causal-computational structure of perceptual processes. Typically, Bayesian models in perception science are purposely given at a higher level of abstraction, and are compatible with a great variety of different processing models. Some of these processing models will “look” more Bayesian than others, and so there are many ways to identify those that count as Bayesian. Consequently, there are different grades of Bayesian realism, corresponding to how much is required for a processing model to count as Bayesian. After discussing the different forms of realism, I turn to a minimal constraint on a processing model’s being Bayesian: that it involve the formation of credal states, or levels of confidence. Every kind of Bayesian realist should accept this constraint. This minimal constraint, however, is not probative unless we know what is to count as a credal state. To that end, I defend two conditions on being a credal state, one tied to a notion of evidential support and the other tied to a notion of effect on downstream processing. I then describe a popular processing model in perception science: probabilistic population codes. I illustrate how such models embed credal states, understood according to my two conditions. Thus, a minimal Bayesian realism is as plausible as population code models are.

February 1st

Liad Mudrik (Tel Aviv University) — Zoom

Taking a neuroscientific-philosophical approach in studying free will and consciousness

Abstract: For centuries, questions about the nature of consciousness or the existence of free will were considered outside the realm of scientific investigation. Yet in recent decades, studies in neuroscience and cognitive science have taken a stab at these questions, giving rise to new empirical findings and novel theories. In this talk, I will describe three attempts to translate these long-lasting philosophical questions into empirically testable ones, regarding the role of consciousness in voluntary action, the relations between conscious experience and neural activity, and the possible dissociation between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness. I will further highlight some of the challenges entailed in such works, and suggest that our understanding of these highly complex and intricate phenomena can substantially benefit from a multidisciplinary dialogue, tying together experimentalists and philosophers.

February 15th
Morgan Barense (University of Toronto)

Understanding memory disorders: At the level of cognitive process or representational content?

How does perceiving an object relate to subsequent memory for that object? A central assumption in most modern theories of memory is that memory and perception are functionally and anatomically segregated. For example, amnesia resulting from medial temporal lobe (MTL) lesions is traditionally considered to be a selective deficit in long-term declarative memory with no effect on perceptual processes. This view is consistent with a popular paradigm in cognitive neuroscience, in which the brain is understood in terms of a modular organization of cognitive function. The work I will present offers a new perspective. Guided by computational modeling complemented with neuropsychology and neuroimaging, I will provide support for the notion that memory and perception are inextricably intertwined, relying on shared neural representations and computational mechanisms. 

March 8th

Bruno Breitmeyer (University of Houston)

Superficial and In-depth Explorations of Conscious and Unconscious Vision

Abstract: The presentation will be divided into three parts: Part 1 deals with the “superficial” nature of visual consciousness. To reveal this aspect of visual consciousness, it is important to explore the differences between unconscious and conscious levels of vision regarding the temporal aspects of their respective processing of surface (chromatic, achromatic, texture) features and form (contour, edge) features of a visual stimulus. The “superficial” nature of visual consciousness bears on what historically were the differences between primary and secondary properties of objects studied by past philosophers and scientists. Part 2 deals with the “depths” of conscious and unconscious visual processing. In both cases, processing depths can be related to functional (psychophysically determined) levels of visual processing, which in turn can be tentatively related to corresponding anatomical (cortical) levels. A rationale is proposed for current and future explorations of the relative functional/anatomical levels of both unconscious and conscious processing. Part 3 deals with a more global look at the deeper processing that characterizes both the unconscious and the conscious levels of visual processing and the phenomenal, surface processing found at only the conscious level.

March 9

Sarah Robins, Philosophy, University of Kansas

The Memory Trace in Philosophy and Neuroscience 

Memory traces are a persistent yet puzzling feature of our thinking about memory. They have been a part of theorizing about memory for as long as there has been theorizing about memory. But they’re also mysterious. The primary way of ‘making sense’ of them is via metaphors—traces are likened birds in aviaries, impressions in wax, items in a warehouse, or grooves in a record. As philosophy of memory has grown recently into an active subfield, many working in this area consider traces an unnecessary and outdated idea. Meanwhile, memory researchers in neurobiology proclaim that we are in the midst of “engram renaissance” (Josselyn, Köhler, & Frankland, 2017). Engram is a new word for an old idea, the current scientific term for the memory trace. New tools like optogenetics have produced a number of discoveries, exciting not only for what they reveal about the basic mechanisms of memory, but for the opportunities they provide to connect with broader areas of memory science. What are memory traces, and do we need them? The memory trace (or engram) remains woefully undertheorized—a neglect that persists even as the philosophy of memory expands. In this talk, I sketch a way to address this, developing a theory of the engram/trace that captures work in contemporary neurobiology and conveys its significance for our theorizing about memory more broadly. The account also serves to appropriately situate the neurobiology of memory as a central contributor in the interdisciplinary inquiry into memory, and as an area of memory science worth the attention of philosophers of memory. 

February 2

Joel Zylberberg, Physics, York University

Learning from Unexpected Events in Hierarchical Cortical Circuits

Scientists have long conjectured that the cortex learns the structure of the environment in a predictive, hierarchical manner. According to this conjecture, expected, predictable features are differentiated from unexpected ones by comparing bottom-up and top-down streams of information. It is theorized that the cortex then changes the representation of incoming stimuli, guided by differences in the responses to expected and unexpected events. To test these ideas, we compared neural activity recorded at the somata and distal apical dendrites of cortical pyramidal cells: these neuronal compartments tend to receive bottom-up and top-down information, respectively. While previous work showed different responses to expected and unexpected sensory features at the somata (bottom-up information), the top-down signals (apical dendrites) had not previously been measured, leaving the nature of this hierarchical computation largely untested. Leveraged recent improvements in in vivo microscopy, and in image processing, we were able to track the responses of individual somata and apical dendritic branches of layer 2/3 and layer 5 pyramidal neurons over multiple days in awake, behaving mice using two-photon calcium imaging, while the mice were exposed to stimuli that were initially unexpected. Our main finding was that both somata and distal apical dendrites of cortical pyramidal neurons exhibit distinct unexpected event signals that systematically change over days, as the animals learn about these stimuli. Interestingly, these top-down vs bottom-up responses evolved in opposite directions in the somata and distal apical dendrites as a result of learning, supporting the hierarchical predictive coding model of sensory cognition.

January 19

Joey T. Cheng, Psychology, York University

Force and Persuasion: How Do We Humans Climb the Social Hierarchy?

This talk will explore how two fundamental strategies to social rank—dominance (i.e., relying on intimidation to induce compliance) and prestige (i.e., earning respect via competence to increase persuasion)—influence individual and group outcomes. In both field and lab groups, individuals who use a dominance or a prestige strategy exercise greater behavioral impact and receive more visual attention. Prestige, however, appears to offer a more stable form of influence over time. Highlighting the distinction between these strategies, individuals signal their dominance by deepening their voice pitch—a unique vocal pattern that is absent among those who adopt a prestige strategy. In the biological domain, individuals who gain high prestige in their community show a subsequent increase in testosterone, which may function to motivate future rank-seeking behavior in an adaptive manner. In terms of collective outcomes, when these strategies are deployed by leaders, dominant leaders lead to group-wide negative affect. By contrast, prestigious leaders boost team creativity, follower loyalty, and positive affect. Together, these findings indicate that although both dominance and prestige strategies reward individuals with higher rank and social success, they are underpinned by distinct nonverbal signals and biological substrates, and confer distinct benefits and costs on self, other, and teams. Other current and future research will be highlighted.

September 22
Tania Lombrozo
, Department of Psychology, Princeton University

Explanation: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Like scientists, children and adults are often motivated to explain the world around them, including why people behave in particular ways, why objects have some properties rather than others, and why events unfold as they do. Moreover, people have strong and systematic intuitions about what makes something a good (or beautiful) explanation. Why are we so driven to explain? And what accounts for our explanatory preferences? In this talk I’ll present evidence that both children and adults prefer explanations that are simple and have broad scope, consistent with many accounts of explanation from philosophy of science. The good news is that a preference for simple and broad explanations can sometimes improve learning and support effective inferences. The bad news is that under some conditions, these preferences can systematically lead children and adults astray.

October 6
Lisa Miracchi,
Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania

Real intelligence: Avoiding Substitution Bias, Echo Chambers, and Philosophical Laundering
I argue for what I call a stance of practical emergence towards intelligence and related kinds such as perception, knowledge, and action. Practical emergence is a commitment in explanatory practice to treating higher-level kinds as distinct from lower-level kinds, such that they cannot be reductively identified in lower-level terms, and to assuming that explanations of them in terms of lower-level kinds may be substantive, in that behavior of higher-level kinds cannot be logically or mathematically deduced from lower-level behavior. I’ll flesh out this stance using the Generative Framework for explaining how higher-level kinds obtain in virtue of lower-level kinds. Then I’ll show how this stance of practical emergence, bolstered by the Generative Framework, saves us from three main pitfalls affecting much contemporary cognitive science, AI, and robotics research. First, it helps us better understand our explananda by avoiding substitution bias — the phenomenon of accidentally trading the problem we want to solve for an easier one. Second, it helps us avoid creating echo chambers where the reductive hypotheses about intelligence kinds are amplified, not because they are empirically supported but because they allow for more simple interdisciplinary communication. Third, it helps us empirically examine our commitments about the nature and key features of intelligence kinds by avoiding philosophical laundering, a phenomenon where support for a philosophical view is illegitimately strengthened because it is adopted as a working hypothesis in empirical research but is not itself an object of empirical scrutiny. In each case, I’ll use examples from contemporary cognitive science and engineering to demonstrate the payoff of retaining higher-level vocabulary in intelligence research. Lastly, I’ll discuss some important ethical implications of adopting this approach.

October 27
Amanda Seed,
School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St. Andrews

Thinking in the Abstract: Evolutionary Origins
Abstract concepts allow wide-ranging predictions in new situations based on sparse data. Whereas some looking-time studies point towards an early emergence of this ability during the first year of life (e.g. Dewar & Xu, 2010, Yin & Csibra2015), others show failure to use abstract concepts like same and different until 4-5 years of age, and suggest a relationship with linguistic ability (Hochmann et al., 2017). Similarly, the evolutionary emergence of the ability to form abstract concepts remains highly debated, both because of mixed results from non-human primates, and different interpretations of positive results following long training regimens. I will present data from two recent lines of work, aiming to shed new light on this old question.

The first is a series of experiments designed to test a computational model of abstract knowledge formation (Kemp et al. (2007)). We developed an ecologically valid method for testing chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys and 3-5-year-old human children, and compared their performance to the model predictions.  The second is a series of experiments examining the ability to imagine an unseen physical cause to infer the location of food rewards.  We developed paradigms which required little verbal framing, exploring participants’ ability to find rewards when they could benefit from applying prior physical knowledge to make sense of the information given.

Our results show some areas of overlap in performance.  We also find some differences in ability between preschoolers and non-human primates, though interestingly, in these cases we also find, in the children, a relationship between performance and age, and the ability to provide verbal explanations. I will suggest an account whereby non-human primates are able to make use of some kinds of abstract information when the testing situation does not overwhelm other cognitive abilities, and discuss what might develop in the later part of the pre-school years to allow children to outperform their nearest primate relatives.

November 10
Charles Yang, Departments of Linguistics, Computer Science, and Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

Good Enough is Better than Best
What is the past participle of the verb “stride”?

I stride down the street, you strode down the street, and they have __ down the street???

The thought is perfectly natural but the linguistic form is not available for speakers of (North) American English. Why not “they have strode down the street”? After all, the vast majority of verbs have the same form for past tense and participle: “walk-walked-walked”, “jump-jumped-jumped”, “think-thought-thought”, “sleep-slept-slept” …

Language is famous for being infinitely productive: when “google” became a verb in English, no one hesitated to add “-ed”  (“googled”), despite the rule (“add -ed”) has quite a few exceptions, namely, the irregular verbs.  But language also has a soft underbelly where rules break down: we are bound by experience and refuse to generalize—as in the case of “stride".

It turns out that rule learning in language requires a delicate calibration of evidence: We form generalizations when the supporting evidence is sufficient, or good enough, even though some residual exceptions may remain. This enables children in a linguistic community to learn essentially the same rules, even though their individual experience with language (e.g., vocabulary) can vary significantly.  I will offer a very precise theory of how good is good enough.

Good enough learning protects the learner from over-fitting, a problem that plagues modern machine learning systems, which are invariably predicated on some optimization principle: maximize the probability of the training data, minimize the error term for the learning function, etc.  Insights from how biological systems learn may prove necessary for the development of robust learning and AI systems.

September 30
Thibaud Gruber
, Swiss Institute for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva

A Cognitive Approach to Wild Cultures
Environment and genetics have played a central part in the debate on the existence of the question of animal—particularly chimpanzee—culture, often as a way to dismiss the possibility of their existence. Today, the debate is no longer on whether chimpanzees have culture or not. Rather, empirical researchers and theorists now attempt to decipher how much chimpanzee cultures compare to human cultures, and the evolutionary relatedness between the two phenomena. In particular, the interaction between social and ecological mechanisms appears crucial. Here, I will use the results of my own research on tool use with the Sonso community of Budongo Forest, Uganda (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) to provide novel insights on chimpanzee culture and how it compares to human culture. Critically, the Sonso chimpanzees, a community with a leaf-based culture, have proven surprisingly reluctant to learn stick use, a behaviour long classified as a universal in chimpanzees. The once particularly favourable environment of the Budongo Forest may have both led to the disappearance of the stick use behaviour in the community, but also provided a buffer against the re-invention of the behaviour. More recent results on the development of a novel tool use behaviour, moss-sponging, suggest that chimpanzees expand their cultural repertoire in the vicinity of what they know already rather than through brand new innovations. The emerging picture is that ecological reasons, particularly through their impact on energy balance, can trigger the appearance of novel cultural behaviour, which will then be transmitted through social learning processes. At the cognitive level, my work supports the idea that apes are limited in their ability to represent their cultural knowledge, a determining feature of modern human cultures, a hypothesis named the Jourdain Hypothesis, after Molière's character. I will also connect this research with my work in child development, to evaluate what features may have changed in our cognitive evolution to make our cultures so different from those of our closest relatives. In particular I will argue that emotions have to be part of the debate to fully understand the differences between humans' and other animals' cultures.

October 7
Cecilia Heyes,
All Souls College and Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

Cultural Evolutionary Psychology
The character and effectiveness of cognitive mechanisms has traditionally been explained by nature and nurture. In the last decade, evidence has emerged that distinctively human cognitive mechanisms, like physical technology, are shaped by culture. At the individual level, these “cognitive gadgets” are inherited via social interaction.  At the population level, they have been made fit for purpose by cultural selection.  In the first part of the talk I will introduce these ideas using the example of imitation.  In the second, focussing on metacognition, I will discuss the prospects for a cultural evolutionary psychology.

November 18
Natalie Brito
, Department of Applied Psychology, New York University

Early Bilingual Experience and Neurocognitive Development
It is well known that early experiences play a critical role in shaping trajectories of brain development and behavior. Research that examines how children learn from their caregivers and environments are needed, but more importantly, studies that incorporate culturally and linguistically diverse families are imperative to gain a fuller understanding of how basic learning mechanisms may vary across children’s experiences.Understanding the wider effects of the sociocultural context on development can potentially help to disentangle the many pathways through which adaptations to the environment impact brain and behavior. This talk will highlight two experiences common to many children, social inequality and multilingualism, and will examine associations between these experiences and neurocognitive development.

January 20
Gary Lupyan, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison

How Words Structure Our Concepts
Does language reflect the categories of our mind or does it help create them? On one widespread view learning a language involves mapping words onto pre-existing categories, leaving little room for language to affect the conceptual landscape. Alternatively, many of our concepts — including some that seem very basic  — may derive from our experience with and use of language. I will argue in favor of this second view and present evidence for the causal role of language in categorization and reasoning.

February 3
Maria Gendron, Department of Psychology, Yale University

Sources of Diversity in Emotion Perception
Unpacking the nature of emotions is critical to a scientific understanding of the human condition.  Recent evidence reveals that emotion categories contain considerable neural, physiological and behavioural variation, challenging long-held views of emotion in psychology and neuroscience. Consistent with these broad patterns, I will present research highlighting diversity in perceptions of emotion across societies and individuals.  I will suggest that the functioning of the conceptual system (what we "know" about emotions) serves as a source of both variation and consistency across levels. This research is informed by the constructionist proposal that culturally learned knowledge may account for the discrete and functional nature of emotions.

March 10
Oliver Scott Curry
, Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, Oxford University

Morality as Cooperation: Past, Present, and Future
What is morality, where does it come from, how does it work? According to the theory of morality-as-cooperation, morality is a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the problems of cooperation recurrent in social life. As evolutionary game theory has shown, there are many types of cooperation, hence the theory explains many types of morality, including: family values, group loyalty, reciprocity, hawkish heroism, dovish deference, fairness and property rights. Previous research has shown that, as predicted, these seven types of morality are psychologically distinct, and cross-culturally universal. Current research is investigating their genetic, neuroanatomical, and cultural-phylogenetic bases. Future research will explore the implications of morality as a ‘combinatorial system’, and show how cooperation explains sexual morality. Continuing to test the many implications of the theory will help to put the study of morality on a firm scientific foundation.

March 24
Gabrielle Johnson, Department of Philosophy, Claremont McKenna College

Proxies Aren’t Intentional, They’re Intentional
This talk concerns 'The Proxy Problem': often machine learning programs utilize seemingly innocuous features as proxies for social sensitive attributes, posing various challenges for the creation of ethical algorithms. I argue that to address this problem, we must first settle a prior question of what it means for an algorithm that only has access to seemingly neutral features to be using those features as ‘proxies’ for, and so to be making decisions on the basis of, protected class features. I argue against theories of proxy discrimination in law and political theory that rely on overly intellectual views of the intentions of the agents involved or on overly deflationary views that reduce proxy use to mere statistical correlation. Instead, using insights from philosophy of language and mind, I adopt an anti-individualist account of representational content to argue for a constitutive account of ‘contentful proxy use’. On this view, proxies represent socially sensitive features when and only when they constitutively depend on discriminatory practices against

September 18
Myrto Mylopoulos
, Philosophy & Cognitive Science, Carleton University

On Skepticism about Unconscious Perception
While there seems to be much evidence that perceptual states can occur without being conscious, some theorists recently express skepticism about unconscious perception. Drawing on joint work with Jacob Berger, I explore here two kinds of such skepticism: Megan Peters and Hakwan Lau’s experimental work regarding the well-known problem of the criterion—which seems to show that many purported instances of unconscious perception go unreported but are weakly conscious—and Ian Phillips’ theoretical consideration, which he calls the ‘problem of attribution’—the worry that many purported examples of unconscious perception are not perceptual, but rather merely informational and subpersonal. I argue that these concerns do not undermine the evidence for unconscious perception and that this skeptical approach results in a dilemma for the skeptic, who must either deny that there is unconscious mentality generally or explain why perceptual states are unique in the mind such that they cannot occur unconsciously. Both options, I argue, are problematic.

October 2
Josh Plotnik , Psychology, Hunter College, City University of New York

Can Comparative Cognition Play a Role in Endangered Species Conservation?
The study of convergent cognitive evolution is an exciting research area aimed at understanding how similarities in cognition emerge in evolutionarily distant taxa, like primates, elephants and corvids. One significant concern in the field is that fair comparisons require careful attention to species’ unique sensory perspectives. Here, I'll discuss some of our research over the past decade on elephant cognition, and will detail studies focused on the elephant's use of olfaction in the decision-making process. I’ll also discuss how we are applying our growing understanding of elephant behavior to the mitigation of human-elephant conflict in Thailand. Comparative cognition and animal behavior research have important roles to play in the conservation of endangered species.

October 30
Michael L. Anderson, Philosophy, University of Western Ontario

Neural Reuse, Dynamics, and Constraints: Getting Beyond Componential Mechanistic Explanation of Neural Function
This talk will review some of the evidence that structure-function relationships in the brain are complex, dynamic, and--most importantly--not adequately captured by the leading form of explanation in the neurosciences, componential mechanistic explanation (CME). In CME one identifies the spatial subparts of a system, discerns their functions, and determines how the parts are organized and interact to give rise to system-level function. However, in the brain neural sub-systems are not stable, function-determining interactions can be bottom up and also top-down, and function-relevant parts are not always spatial sub-parts of the system in question. In light of this, I will suggest that it would be more fruitful to look for the ways that function emerges from interacting structures via the imposition of enabling constraints, that temporary stabilize the system's configuration (i.e. enact a synergy) to achieve the cognitive or behavioural task at hand.

November 13
Parisa Moosavi
, Philosophy, York University

On the Moral Psychology of Intelligent Machines
This talk examines the suitability of intelligent machines for learning to replicate moral judgment and behaviour in light of the objection that morality is uncodifiable. I appeal to the distinction between symbolic and connectionist representation to evaluate this objection. I argue that although the uncodifiability of morality would raise a problem for encoding morality by symbolic AI, it leaves room for the possibility of a connectionist representation. However, I also argue that even if connectionist AI can in principle replicate moral judgment, the problem of explainability in connectionist AI raises important challenges for replicating moral justification.

January 22
David Barner
, Linguistics and Psychology, UC San Diego

Humans Create Abstract Symbols to Explain the Perceptual World
How do words and other symbolic forms get their meaning? One popular and intuitive solution to this problem appeals to simple associative learning: A word like "chair" gets its meaning from patterns of association between the word form and perceptual experiences with chairs in the world.  A natural challenge to this idea, however, is that many symbols that humans use, whether linguistic or otherwise, are not only abstract, but also make distinctions that simply don't exist in the perceptual signal. For example, perceptual representations can't easily explain the nature of human representations of mental states, time, and number, inter alia. In my lab, we study this problem and how humans use symbolic representations to represent and explain a noisy perceptual world. In this talk, I will discuss one example of this work by focusing on numerical cognition. In particular, I will argue that only the very smallest number words (i.e., one, two, three) are learned by associating words with perceptual representations of number, and that the meanings of all larger numbers - which are infinite - are constructed via processes of inference that are defined over the structure of number words themselves, not perceptual representations of number. I provide evidence for this hypothesis using data from seven different languages, as well as from French-English and Spanish-English bilinguals.

February 5
Rami Gabriel
Psychology, Columbia College Chicago

The Emotional Brain: The Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition
An affective approach to culture and cognition may hold the key to uniting findings across experimental psychology and, eventually, the Human Sciences. Many accounts of the human mind concentrate on the brain’s computational power yet for nearly 200 million years before humans developed a capacity to reason the emotional centers of the brain were running the show. To attain a clearer picture of the evolution of mind, we challenge the cognitivist and behaviorist paradigms in psychology by exploring how the emotional capacities that we share with other animals saturate every thought and perception. Many of the distinctive social and cultural behaviors of our species, including: bonding, social learning, hierarchy, decision-making, self-identity can be integrated if we use an affective approach. Even the roots of so much that makes us uniquely human—art, mythology, religion—can be traced to feelings of caring, longing, fear, loneliness, awe, rage, lust, and playfulness. An affective framework is developed through elaborations upon biological intentionality, an ecological model of social intelligence, and biocultural loops in the ontogeny of affective systems. Furthermore, we explain the evolution of imagination through its early manifestations in body grammar, dreams, and spatial cognition. Drawing from research in anthropology, we describe how affect is domesticated through social and cultural technologies like norms, ceremonies, and goods. Finally, we explore the spiritual emotions in how art, religion, and mythology create ecological niches for belief, commitment, and solidarity.

February 26
E.J. Green
Philosophy, MIT

What Is Perceptual Constancy?
Perceptual constancy involves a type of sensory stability across change in the proximal stimulus for perception. Constancy has played a significant role in recent philosophy of perception. The phenomenon figures centrally in debates over direct realism, color ontology, and the minimal conditions for perceptual representation. Despite this, the philosophical literature lacks a systematic account of what constancy is. In this talk, I argue that an adequate account of perceptual constancy must distinguish it from three superficially similar but fundamentally distinct phenomena: mere sensory stability through change, stability through irrelevant change, and perceptual categorization of a distal dimension. Standard characterizations of constancy fall short in one or more of these respects. I develop an account of constancy that meets these challenges. The account has two parts: a theory of constancy mechanisms, and a theory of the conditions under which a constancy capacity is exercised. Finally, I exhibit some consequences of this account for the debate over whether constancy is a necessary condition for perceptual representation of the external world.

March 11
Kristin Andrews
, Philosophy, York University

Can Animals Be Moral?
Recent research challenges the idea that adult humans are the only actors whose behavior is evaluable by other members of their group. Very young children, great apes, dolphins, and monkeys may also find some actions to be acceptable, and others not. Normative thinking, that is, seeing actions as right or wrong, is the foundation of morality, and the current science suggests these roots may run deep in the animal kingdom. To investigate normative thinking in other animals I present an account of animal social norms and show that there are four cognitive capacities involved in normative thinking: identification of agents; sensitivity to in-group/out-group differences, social learning of group traditions, and the conscious awareness of appropriateness. Drawing on comparative cognition and developmental psychology research, I show that these capacities of naïve normativity are part of typical human social cognitive practices and they are seen in other species; therefore, they are likely an ancient human cognitive endowment. Finally, I show that these capacities they are necessary for moral cognition from the framework of standard ethical theories.

Sep 12—Laura Niemi (Munk School, University of Toronto), Tracing the Process of Moral Judgment in Language and Cognition
When things go wrong, people ask questions like: “Who made it happen?” “Who was responsible?” and “Who is to blame?” In other words, they engage in a process of moral judgment that involves causal cognition. To what extent is this process permeated by people’s diverse values and ideological commitments; and, to what extent is it influenced by the language used to describe the event? This talk will cover findings from several studies combining individual differences measures with vignette-based experiments and psycholinguistics tasks. Collectively, the research demonstrates that values systematically map onto different patterns of causal attribution and language use. Studying morality through the lens of language brings precision to our understanding of the psychological underpinnings of diverse values, and also indicates that our understanding of language is incomplete without consideration of moral psychology.

Oct 3—Dale Stevens (Psychology, York University), Are Object Concepts Hardwired in the Brain?
Discrete parts of the human brain respond preferentially to very particular categories of objects. Moreover, the general organization of these “category-specialized” brain regions is remarkably similar across individuals. This is one of the most robust and oft replicated findings in the field of cognitive neuroscience, and it has sparked much controversy and debate regarding the fundamental nature of object concepts in the brain. Is this category-related organization innate/hardwired in the brain, or driven solely by external perceptual characteristics of objects, or something else? In this talk, I present recent evidence from my neuroimaging research demonstrating that while stable anatomical connectivity constrains the spatial topography of this category-related organization, malleable experience-driven "functional connectivity" among brain regions gives rise to category-specilazation.

Oct 24—Adam Pautz (Philosophy, Brown University), How Does Experience Represent the World?
Like many others, I think we should accept a representational theory of sensory consciousness: being conscious of the world is a matter of representing the world. Thus the hard problem of consciousness becomes the hard problem of representation. For example, how do electrical events in soggy grey matter enable us to represent bright orange pumpkins? The most popular answer (Armstrong, Dretske, Tye, Byrne and Hilbert, Hill) is that the sensible qualities (colors, smells, tastes, etc.) are "in the world" and the brain represents them by undergoing states that have the biological function of indicating them. In this talk, my primary aim is to develop some empirical arguments against this view. At the end, I will briefly motivate a radically different approach: a kind of internalist, non-reductive form representationalism.
NB: Pautz will be giving a companion talk the next day at the University of Toronto in which he will develop some quite different, more a priori arguments for a non-reductive, internalist theory of consciousness. The arguments will be founded on a series of novel thought-experiments.

Nov 7—Hayley Clatterbuck (Philosophy, University of Rochester), How Does Language Create New Concepts?
Compared to other species, humans seem to have an exceptional capacity for representing and learning abstract concepts. According to the “language-first hypothesis”, language – and not some antecedent change in our representational abilities – explains how we first gained these abilities and how individuals today learn new concepts. To test this hypothesis, I consider whether and how language can play this role, drawing on Carey’s bootstrapping account and several techniques from machine learning. Finally, I investigate whether associative mechanisms found in other species suffice for the kind of word learning that creates new abstract concepts.

CHAZ FIRESTONE (Psychology, Johns Hopkins University)

Friday, January 25, 2pm, BSB 163 (this is a joint talk with the Centre for Vision Research)
How similar is the human mind to the sophisticated machine-learning systems that mirror its performance? Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have taken our field by storm, achieving human-level benchmarks in recognizing novel images and objects. These advances support transformative technologies such as autonomous vehicles and machine diagnosis, but beyond this they also serve as candidate models for the human mind itself -- not only in their output but perhaps even in their underlying mechanisms and principles. However, unlike humans, CNNs can be "fooled" by adversarial examples -- carefully crafted images that appear as nonsense patterns to humans but are recognized as familiar objects by machines, or that appear as one object to humans and a different object to machines. This seemingly extreme divergence between human and machine classification challenges the promise of these new advances, both as applied image-recognition systems and also as models of the human mind. Surprisingly, however, little work has empirically investigated human classification of such stimuli: Does human and machine performance fundamentally diverge? Or could humans engage in some “machine theory of mind” and predict the CNN’s preferred labels? Here, I’ll show how human and machine classification of adversarial stimuli are surprisingly related: I will present data showing that, across many prominent and diverse adversarial imagesets, human subjects can reliably identify the machine's preferred label over relevant foils, even for images described in the literature as "totally unrecognizable to human eyes". I suggest that human intuition may be a more reliable guide to machine (mis)classification than has typically been imagined, and explore the consequences of this result for minds and machines alike.

MAGGIE TOPLAK (Psychology, York University)
Wednesday, February 6, 12:30pm, Ross S421
Many cognitive abilities show a steady increase throughout childhood and adolescence.  However, previous research has found that performance on some cognitive biases (such as heuristics and biases tasks) show improvement with age, but others do not. The developmental course of cognitive biases remains largely unknown. It is particularly challenging to identify suitable stimuli for the assessment of cognitive biases in developmental samples, given that these paradigms were originally developed using adult samples. In addition to the developmental suitability of these items, an additional challenge of using developmental samples is the rapid, parallel development of general cognitive abilities such as intellectual abilities and executive functions. In order to advance our understanding of the development of cognitive biases, we have examined their association with different indicators of cognitive sophistication. In our program of research, we have examined performance on cognitive abilities and cognitive biases cross-sectionally across different periods of development. We have also examined whether cognitive abilities and dispositional tendencies that support rational thinking are correlated with resistance to cognitive biases. Our work has demonstrated that children and youth who display resistance to cognitive biases tend to display higher cognitive abilities and tendencies toward actively open-minded thinking. Most recently, we have conducted a longitudinal follow-up of our original developmental sample to examine developmental trajectories of these measures. I will also report on the findings from a cohort-sequential longitudinal design of typically developing children and youth. Our sample spans the range from 8 to 20 years of age based on testing at three time points, each separated by three years. We estimated latent growth curve models to examine the developmental trajectories of resistance to cognitive biases, based on a composite measure including baserate sensitivity, ratio bias, belief bias syllogisms, resistance to framing and temporal discounting. We also estimated these models for intellectual abilities (verbal and nonverbal), executive functions (interference control and mental flexibility), and actively open-minded thinking (AOT).  Together, our results provide further evidence for the development of resistance to cognitive biases and convergence with other indicators of cognitive sophistication. These results also highlight the role of individual differences for understanding how children and youth improve or fail to show improvement on resisting cognitive biases.

MUHAMMAD ALI KHALIDI (Philosophy, York University)
Wednesday, February 27, 12:30pm, Ross S421
Researchers in the cognitive sciences often seek neural correlates of psychological constructs. In this talk, I argue that even when these correlates are discovered, they do not always lead to reductive outcomes. To this end, I examine the psychological construct of a critical period and briefly describe research identifying its neural correlates. Although the critical period is correlated with certain neural mechanisms, this does not imply that there is a reductionist relationship between this psychological construct and its neural correlates. Instead, this case study suggests that there may be many-to-many psychological-neural mappings, not just one-to-one or even one-to-many relations between psychological kinds and types of neural mechanisms.

STEVEN PIANTADOSI (Psychology, University of California Berkeley)
Wednesday, March 27, 12:30pm, Ross S421
I'll present an overview of my research that is aimed at understanding how human learners solve complex, structured learning problems. Recent theories of human learning have hypothesized that people can infer the algorithm or computation giving rise to the data they can observe. This approach shows promise in explaining human behavior across a variety of domains, including language learning, number acquisition, and conceptual development generally. It also allows the field to address even more basic questions about what types of knowledge might be "built in" for humans, and how children develop the rich systems of knowledge found in adults. I'll describe a series of studies on mathematical learning and cognitive development in children, US adults, and indigenous Amazonians, and describe families of computational models that we can use to capture the remarkable statistical inferences carried out by human learners.

Nov 03, 2017,  at 3.30 pm

Geoffrey MacDonald (Psychology, University of Toronto)

Love is the Drug: Social Reward and Interpersonal Behaviour Regulation

Abstract: Although a general principle is that animals regulate behaviour based on avoiding punishments and approaching rewards, relationship science has largely focused on safety rather than reward motives. In this talk, I argue for the importance of reward in the regulation of interpersonal behaviour. The studies I will discuss show that people regret missing opportunities for social reward and pursue relationships that promise reward. My data suggest that social reward is mediated by the release of endogenous opioids reflecting its addictive qualities. Finally, I explore boundary conditions to the pursuit of reward such that individuals high in the fear of being single or attachment avoidance are less motivated by social rewards.

Time and location:  3.30-5.30 pm (Friday), Ross S 421

Oct 14 (Fri) with Philosophy: Sharon Street (NYU, Philosophy)
Meditation, Metaethics, and the View from Everywhere

Oct 19: Daphna Buchsbaum (UofT, Developmental Psychology)
How do you know that? Integrating Causal Knowledge and Learning from Others

We live in a causally complex world, where we must learn not only to predict the consequences of events (“the wind blowing could make that branch fall on me”), but also to act causally on the world ourselves (“pressing the remote control button turns on the TV”). How do children learn causal relationships, especially when the world presents them with sparse, ambiguous data or with multiple, conflicting sources of evidence? Social learning may be especially beneficial —with little expertise and few life experiences, children can quickly acquire large amounts of new information from other people without spending the time and effort to learn through trial-and-error. However, not all information from others is equally dependable. People can be ignorant, make mistakes, or give conflicting information. I will first present work suggesting that children are able to rationally combine multiple sources of information about which actions are causally necessary when deciding what to imitate, interpreting the same statistical evidence differently when it comes from a knowledgeable teacher versus a naïve demonstrator. I will next present research looking at how children and adults combine direct observation of probabilistic data with causal predictions provided by a social informant, and how this influences their future trust in that informant. Finally, I will present research looking at how people reconcile differences in opinion amongst multiple demonstrators, including how they balance the opinion of a majority against the quality of informants’ information. Throughout this work, I use computational probabilistic models to evaluate what learners with differing social assumptions should rationally infer from the social and statistical evidence they receive.

Oct 26: Chris Westbury, Cognitive Psychology, Linguistics
Beyond ‘takete’ and ‘maluma’: Using big data to understand sound symbolism

Sound symbolism is the phenomenon of extracting semantics from formal (orthographic and/or phonological) elements of a string. Köhler (1929/1947) famously showed that people were much more likely to associate the nonword ‘takete’ with a spiky shape and the nonword ‘maluma’ with a round shape than the other way around. Sapir (1929) showed that people were more likely to associated the string ‘mal’ than the string ‘mil' with large things. These findings have been much replicated: indeed, a large proportion of the sound symbolism literature (40% in a review of 99 studies) consists of follow-up studies to Köhler and Sapir. I will point out several limitations in the sound symbolism literature and present results from three recent studies that try to overcome these limitations by using ‘big data’ (experiments that use thousands of randomly-generated stimuli). The first two studies address an unusual question that turns out to have a surprisingly clear and simple answer: Why do people consistently find some nonword strings humourous? The third study characterizes sound symbolic effects in nearly two dozen semantic categories, including several for which no sound symbolism effects have ever been suggested. I will end by discussing several plausible reasons why sound symbolic effects exist, and what their existence suggests about human cognitive processing.

Paul Katsafanas (Boston, Philosophy): "Fanaticism and Sacred Values"
Jan 11

Luke Roelofs (Philosophy, Australian National University)
'Octopuses, split-brains, and the universe: how unified does consciousness have to be?'

Short abstract: Normal human consciousness is in many ways remarkably well-integrated; plausibly this is part of what leads us to think of each person as a single conscious subject. By contrast, the conscious goings-on in the universe as a whole are not similarly well-integrated; plausibly this is part of what leads us to think of them as not belonging to a single conscious subject. But what should we think about systems that seem to fall somewhere in between, displaying too much integration to be called simply many and too little to be called simply one? With an eye to two particular examples of such cases (cephalopods and callosotomy patients) I review some rival ways of thinking about this question, and consider how far we can retain the simplicity of the common-sense outlook.

Feb 15
Jacob Beck (Philosophy, York University)
‘Is sensory experience analog?’

Abstract: Back in the 1980s several philosophers argued, on broadly introspective and a priori grounds, that sensory experience is analog. In the ensuing years, these arguments have been forcefully criticized, leaving the thesis that sensory experience is analog in doubt. My talk will have two aims: to diagnose a common flaw in these past arguments that traces to their armchair methodology; and to begin to develop a new, and more empirically informed, argument for the same conclusion.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided at the talks.

Wednesday, November 18
Jennifer Steele (Psychology, York)
“How and When Do Children's Implicit Racial Biases Develop?”

Wednesday, December 02
Tim Bayne (Philosophy, University of Manchester and Western University)
"Can we Build a Consciousness Meter?

September 10, 2014
Otavio Bueno (Philosophy, University of Miami)
“What Does a Mathematical Proof Really Prove?” *

September 24, 2014
Joni Sasaki (Psychology, York University)
“The Cultural and Biological Shaping of Religion's Effects”

October 8, 2014
Tina Malti (Psychology, University of Toronto, Mississauga)
“Mind, Emotions, and Morality”

October 22, 2014
Serife Tekin (Philosophy, Daemen College)
“Against Grief Erosion: Incompatible Research and Clinical Interests in Psychiatric Taxonomy”

November 19, 2014
Laurence Harris (Psychology and CVR, York University)
“The Vestibular System and the Sense of Self”

Wednesday, January 28
Frank Russo (Psychology, Ryerson)
"Oscillatory Brain Dynamics Underlying the Perception of Pitch, Rhythm,
and Emotion in Music and Speech"

Friday, February 6*
Ernie Lepore (Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Rutgers)
"On the Perspective-Taking and Open-Endedness of Slurring"

Wednesday, February 25
Robert Foley (Philosophy, Western)
"Flexible Interaction as a Criterion for Consciousness"

The speaker series is held on Weds at 3:30 pm in Ross S 421, unless otherwise indicated.

* = Joint session with Philosophy Department Colloquium

September 18, 2013
Keith Schneider (Biology and Centre for Vision Research, York University)
"Visual Attention Affects our Decisions but not Perceptions"

October 16, 2013
Wayne Wu (Philosophy and Center for Neural Basis of Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University)
"What is Attention?"

January 31, 2014*
Robert McCauley (Philosophy, Emory University)
"The Cognitive Foundations of Science and Religion"

February 26, 2014
Steven Sloman (Psychology, Brown University)
"Explanation Fiends and Foes: Different Modes of Causal Reasoning"

March 12, 2014
Tina Malti (Psychology, University of Toronto - Mississauga)
"Mind, Emotions, and Morality" -- (Postponed due to weather)

* Joint with Philosophy Department Colloquium, scheduled for Friday instead of Wednesday.

September 19, 2012
John Heil (Philosophy, Washington University St Louis)
"Real Modalities"

October 17, 2012
Adam Cohen (Psychology, Western)
“Theory of mind as a cognitive reflex”

November 7, 2012

Louise Barrett (Anthropology, Lethbridge)
“A little less representation, a little more action, please”
January 30, 2013

Rebecca Saxe (Neuroscience, MIT)
"The Happiness of Fish: Neural Mechanisms for Understanding Minds Unlike Your Own"

March 6, 2013
Hakob Barseghyan (Institute for History and Philosophy of Science, University of Toronto)
"A Descriptive Theory of Scientific Change"

April 5, 2013
Tyler Burge (Philosophy, UCLA)
"Perception: Origins of Mind"

January 11, 2013
Interdisciplinary Workshop - Animal Pain and Consciousness

Colin Allen (Department of Philosophy, University of Indiana)
Kristin Andrews (Department of Philosophy, York University)
Verena Gottschling (Department of Philosophy, York University)
Suzanne McDonald (Department of Psychology, York University)
Anne Russon (Department of Psychology, York University, Glendon)
Adam Shriver (The Rotman Institute of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario)