04 October 2015

Gerry Altman at Cognitive Brown Bag

Gerry Altmann of UConn Psychology will be giving the Cognitive Brown Bag on Wednesday, 10/7, at 12:00 in Tobin 521B.  The abstract for the untitled talk is:

Language is often used to describe the changes that occur around us – changes in either state (“I cracked the glass…”) or location (“I moved the glass onto the table…”). To fully comprehend such events requires that we represent the ‘before’ and ‘after’ states of any object that undergoes change. But how do we represent these mutually exclusive states of a single object at the same time? I shall summarize a series of studies, primarily from fMRI, which show that we do represent such alternative states, and that these alternative states compete with one another in much the same way as alternative interpretations of an ambiguous word might compete. This interference, or competition, manifests in a part of the brain that has been implicated in resolving competition. Furthermore, activity in this area is predicted by the dissimilarity, elsewhere in the brain, between sensorimotor instantiations of the described object’s distinct states. I shall end with the beginnings of a new account of event representation which does away with the traditional distinctions between actions, participants, time, and space. [Prior knowledge of the brain is neither presumed, required, nor advantageous!].