8 décembre 2015

Didier Démolin : "Syntactic structures and organization in music from the perspective of oral tradition musical systems"


The study of oral tradition of music permits discussing the question of the organization of musical syntax and reference systems in an interesting way. These musical systems are sometimes acquired without explicit teaching, as Pygmies polyphonies from Central Africa. When more explicit they are often based on non-verbalized knowledge. The organization of African polyphonies is based on a few simple principles to constantly renew the musical discourse and to create a very complex musical structure. The principles of simple melodic and rhythmic variations (swap intervals or changing the internal structure or rhythmic cells) are used to build a musical discourse of great complexity and which seem, at first sight, largely self-organized. The presence of similar musical structures in different places of the world, e.g. Hoquetus in polyphonic music, raises the question of universals in music. The musical scales taken outside of constructed systems pose the issue of possible auditory constraints.

24 novembre

Edouard Machery (U.Pittsburgh): "is there any hope for classical statistics?"


In this talk, I will examine the call for statistical reform in psychology and other sciences. Many statisticians and methodologists believe that classical statistics should be replaced with other statistical frameworks, such as Bayesian statistics. I will examine closely an influential argument for the call for statistical reform: Classical statistics leads to paradoxes. I will explain how classical statistics can be salvaged from these paradoxes.

17 novembre 2015

Isabelle Peretz (Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal, International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS)): "Unraveling the musical brain by the study of congenital anomalies"

Abstract: The study of musical disorders remains a rich, and perhaps unique, source of information regarding the brain organization underlying music cognition. Musical disorders reveal in vivo how musical abilities are organized by a process of reverse engineering. The study of musical disorders reveals causal and selective relations between brain and functions, while current neuroimaging techniques are mostly overinclusive and correlational. Moreover, the patient-based approach can be coupled to neuroimaging techniques to uncover unique links between musical abilities and the brain. In this presentation, I will focus on the detailed study of individuals who were born with severe musical problems. These disorders are particularly instructive because they have neurogenetic underpinnings. These disorders are termed “congenital amusia”, an umbrella term for lifelong musical disabilities that cannot be attributed to mental retardation, deafness, lack of exposure, or brain damage after birth. Congenital amusia provides a natural experiment—a rare chance to examine the biological basis of music by tracing causal links between genes, environment, brain, and behavior. I will present the main and most recent insights that the study of congenital amusia has provided on the biological foundations of music.

10 novembre 2015

Jean-Julien Aucouturier: "Covert Digital Manipulation of Vocal Emotion Alter Speakers' Emotional State in a Congruent Direction"

Abstract:Recent research about emotion regulation and forward models have suggested that emotional signals are produced in a goal directed way, and monitored for errors like other intentional actions. We created a digital audio platform to covertly modify the emotional tone of participants voices while they talked, in the direction of happiness,sadness or fear. We found that, while external listeners perceived the audio transformations as natural examples of the intended emotions, the great majority of the participants remained unaware that their own voices were being manipulated. We take this to indicates that people are not continuously monitoring their own voice to make sure it meets a predetermined emotional target. Instead, as a consequence of listening to their altered voices, the emotional state of the participants changed in congruence with the emotion portrayed, as measured both by self-report and skin conductance responses (SCR). This we believe is the first evidence of peripheral feedback effects on emotional experience in the auditory domain. As such, this result reinforces the wider framework of self-perception theory; that we often use the same inferential strategies to understand ourselves as those we use to understand others.

5 novembre 2015

Philippe Schyns (Univ. Glasgow): "Brain algorithmics: reverse engineering dynamic information processing in brain networks from EEG/MEG time series"

Salle Dussane 11h à 13h

The ultimate goal of cognitive neuroscience is to understand the brain as an organ of information processing. This will remain difficult unless we understand more directly what information the brain processes when it categorizes the external world. For example, our brain can extract from a face--a powerful social communication tool--information to categorize identity, age, gender, ethnicity, emotion, personality and even health. Though our brain knows what information to use for each task, as information receivers we typically do not have direct access to this knowledge. The current state of cognitive neuroscience is similar – we aim to understand the brain as an information processor, but we do not know what stimulus information it processes. Using face categorisations, I will present a framework and recent examples that started to address this fundamental problem. We start by first isolating what specific information underlies a given face categorization, and then we examine where, when and how the brain processes this information

6 octobre 2015

Jan Peters: "Functions of the neural "valuation network": neuroimaging and lesion evidence"

In recent years, functional neuroimaging studies have delineated a network consisting of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex / medial orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum that is involved in representing subjective reward values ("valuation" network). My talk focuses on this network, and is split into two parts. In the first part, I will present data from an ongoing fMRI study on how homeostatic changes (e.g. hunger vs. satiety) modulate responses in this "valuation" network to different classes of rewards. Homeostatic hormone levels (e.g. Leptin/Ghrelin) have been linked to neural processing in this network. Human participants took part in two counter-balanced fMRI sessions, once following 8hrs of fasting, and once following normal food intake. We explored parametric reward representation in response to monetary and food-related reward cues. In the second part on my talk I will show findings on decision-making and reward valuation impairments in patients with focal damage to this network. Patients with lesions to the medial orbitofrontal cortex / ventromedial prefrontal cortex (n=9) and controls (n=19) where tested on decision-making (risky and inter-temporal choice) and reward valuation tasks to explore the possibility that self-control impairments in this patient group might be associated with impairments in reward-valuation. Findings revealed considerable heterogeneity in the pattern of decision-making and valuation impairments observed in the patient group: Some patients showed striking impairments in self-control, whereas others where indistinguishable from controls. Potential reasons for this heterogeneity and implications for models of self-regulation are discussed.

22 septembre 2015

Timothy Behrens (Univ. of Oxford): "Precursors to valuation - coding schemes linking hippocampal and association cortices"

I will present some data that try to link some of the responses that we see during value-guided choice to ones familiar from studies of memory and spatial navigation. In doing so, I will try to find ways to look at the precursors to valuation during choices. I will try to focus on ways in which relationships between objects might be coded, and I will try to find evidence for these kinds of code using some representational imaging measures. At some point or another I will try to imply that grid codes seen in spatial navigation are just one type of covariance code, that they are not limited to space, can be seen in nonspatial dimensions, and can even work in discrete domains like choice paradigms. Sotto voce, I will suggest that the reason we see the networks that we do during choice and learning experiments is nothing to do with value, but because the types of tasks we do require these covariance codes. If you get me drunk, I may even say that these global covariance codes are unique to a set of brain regions commonly referred to as the default-mode network; that is what separates these regions from regions in the dorsal and lateral prefrontal and parietal cortices; and that these codes and brain areas allow complex problems to be solved instantaneously rather than through sequential simulation. You are progressively unlikely to believe these things in the order that they appear in this abstract. I will however show something that you will have to believe, which is that connectivity amongst these default mode brain regions predicts successful outcomes in life with almost every measure that can be thought of, across a large sample of 500 subjects in the Human Connectome Project.

15 septembre 2015

Peter Sterling (UPenn): "Principles of Neural Design"

The supercomputer that beat Garry Kasparov at chess fills a room and draws megaWatts; whereas our brain occupies 1.3 liters and draws only 12 watts. Therefore, brain design must reflect intense constraints on space and energy. One key is to compute with chemistry because diffusion is fast and cheap over short distances (micrometers). To transmit beyond that requires electrical signals, which are expensive, costs rising disproportionately with information rate. Consequently neural designs try to hold the steep part of the rate vs cost curve by sending only information that is needed, by sending it slowly, and by shortening the wires. To conserve space, the brain saves new information only for as long as it will be needed and couples learning to forgetting. To capture the overall design ten principles suffice.

8 septembre 2015

John Trueswell (Professor of Psychology, Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, University of Pennsylvania): "The role of cognitive flexibility in language processing and language acquisition"

Because children and adults interpret speech in real-time, rapidly making commitments to interpretation essentially on a word-by-word basis, they must learn to deal flexibly with temporary ambiguities that arise in the input. In this talk, I'll present a series of language studies that examine the relationship between language processing, language learning, and cognitive flexibility. Individual differences in how well children flexibly respond to representationa conflict during executive function tasks predict how well they deal with temporary syntactic ambiguity during real-time comprehension. I explore how the processing challenges associated with real-time comprehension constrain grammar learning, and might even constrain the types of grammars that arise in languages of the world. The results reveal some of the ways in which the cognitive abilities of the individual shape the linguistic-communicative system of the group.

26 mai 2015

Jonathan Smallwood: "How we escape from the here and now: a component process account of self-generated thought"


Conscious thought is not always focused on immediate sensory input and instead is often directed to information that arises from intrinsic changes that occur within an individual. Such self-generated thoughts occupy upwards of half our lives, and are experienced as daydreaming, mind-wandering and in extreme conditions as intrusive thoughts. Although the last decade has seen a rapid increase in studies exploring self-generated thinking, we currently lack an integrative framework for understanding these experiences from both neural and psychological perspectives. The current talk will describes a component process view of self-generated thought that provides insight into the neuro cognitive mechanisms through which this ubiquitous experience contributes to our daily life.

14 avril 2015

Michel Raymond: "Darwinian puzzles in humans"


Several human traits pose challenges to evolutionary thinking, as they are relatively prevalent but are associated with lower reproductive success through reduced fertility and/or longevity (Darwinian puzzles). Classical examples are left handedness, homosexual preference, menopause and mental disorders. The first two examples will be examined in details, and possible evolutionary explanations will be proposed. Predictions of the theoretical models will be presented, along with empirical tests. Some interesting consequences on the functioning of stratified societies will be considered, as well as the importance of female attractiveness.

7 avril 2015

Valerian Chambon (Institut Jean Nicod): "Agency and action selection"


Sense of agency refers to the feeling of controlling an external event through one’s own action. On one influential view, agency depends on how predictable the consequences of one’s action are, getting stronger as the match between predicted and actual effect of an action gets closer. Thus, sense of agency arises when external events that follow our action are consistent with predictions of action effects made by the motor system while we perform or simply intend to perform an action. According to this view, agency is inferred retrospectively, after an action has been performed and its consequences are known. In contrast, little is known about whether and how internal processes involved in the selection of actions may influence subjective sense of control, in advance of the action itself, and irrespective of effect predictability. In this talk, I'll review several classes of behavioral and neuroimaging data suggesting that earlier processes, linked to fluency of action selection, prospectively contribute to sense of agency. These findings have important implications for better understanding human causation, motor expertise, and abnormalities of action experience.

31 mars 2015

Alex Clarke (Department of Philosophy, King's College London): "Distributional learning and language acquisition"


One of the central problems for the cognitive sciences has been to account for language acquisition; the difficulty arises in coming up with a theory that simultaneously satisfies three conflicting goals (Jackendoff 2011); accounting for the variety and complexity of attested natural languages; explaining the acquisition of these from the available data, while not assuming too specific an innate endowment, which is implausible from an evolutionary perspective. In this talk we will outline a candidate solution, based on a mathematically precise theory of grammatical inference based on distributional learning techniques. These techniques, only recently developed (e.g. Clark & Eyraud 2007, Clark & Yoshinaka 2014), show how large classes of very powerful grammars can be learned from example sentences by decomposing the sentences into substrings and contexts which correspond respectively to the yields of subderivations and derivation contexts. These methods are applicable to a wide range of grammar formalisms, including mildly context-sensitive grammar formalisms such as Multiple context free grammars, which are equivalent to Stabler's Minimalist Grammars. We will describe the current state of this theory and the (in)compatibility of these models with standard models of syntax, make some precise predictions about the range of possible grammars based on learnability considerations, and discuss how plausible this is as the basis for a theory of language acquisition.

17 mars 2015

Thor Grunbaum: "Consciousness, Action, PAM!"


Milner and Goodale’s perception-action model (PAM) is a common ground for recent philosophical discussions of the role of visual consciousness in control of action. In this talk, I briefly introduce the current discussions and argue that PAM is ambiguous between a strong and weak version. The strong version posits separate and independent computational mechanisms and representations for visual cognition and visually guided motor action, whereas the weak version posits a common mechanism and representation for both cognition and action. I argue that available evidence is unable to distinguish between the versions. This issue not only has important consequences for philosophical theories of the cognitive role of visual consciousness, it also has implications for the role of experimental evidence in model testing in cognitive neuroscience.

10 mars 2015

Mark Steedman: "Statistical Parsing and Interpretation for Jazz Chord Sequences"


The paper describes work with Mark Granroth-Wilding on the problem of parsing and interpreting chord sequences using a grammar of tonal harmony. The grammar is drawn from the same "nearly context-free" class that is strongly adequate for natural languages, and supports a model theory of harmony. Though the grammar is much smaller than language grammars, the degree of ambiguity is much greater, in the sense that any chord can have an unboundedly large number of increasingly preposterous interpretations. Parsing requires the use of a supervised statistical model to limit search, of the same kind that is required for parsing natural language at scale. We evaluate its performance on held-out data against a baseline Markov model, which it outperforms, showing that the grammar is doing useful cognitive work.

3 mars 2015

Denis Forest: "Neurophilosophy: Pros and cons"


In his Explaining the brain (2007) Car Craver begins with a distinction between neurophilosophers and philosophers of neuroscience. Philosophers of the first kind use neuroscientific findings to address questions that belong traditionally to the field of philosophy of mind. Philosophers of the second kind are concerned with the goals and methods of neuroscientific research: for them neuroscience is an object of inquiry rather than a tool. In this communication, I want to suggest that it is not advisable to divorce completely neurophilosophy from philosophy of neuroscience, as the special task of the latter is to describe practices and to make explicit epistemic norms without which neurocognitive research cannot be characterized, assessed and made philosophically relevant. As cognitive neuroscience is a source of ongoing theoretical discussion rather than a compendium of empirical truths, extracting from it unambiguous support for philosophical claims is no easy task. Using recent work on episodic memory (Schacter & Addis, 2007), I shall try to show, however, that stressing the importance of “organized skepticism” does not necessarily prevent philosophy from drawing the moral of converging results.

3 février 2015

Wolfgang Prinz: "The roots of subjectivity"


In my talk I am going to raise some questions that seem simple but are difficult to answer: What do we mean when we talk about subjects? And what does it take to be one? How do subjects differ from non-subjects? And can one imagine that subjects emerge from things or beings that are not subjects at that time? These are questions which a theory of human subjectivity must answer. In my talk I am going to sketch an outline for such a theory. In the center of this sketch is an idea which at first glance seems rather unusual—if not absurd: Namely, that human subjectivity is not a natural fact but instead a social institution— something manufactured by people for people and for certain purposes. In other words, I will be trying to sell you a rather strange idea…

20 janvier 2015

M. Peelen: "Neural Mechanisms of Real-World Attention"


Attentional selection is a central part of our every day behavior as it allows us to prioritize processing of behaviorally relevant objects and thereby to achieve our goals. Recent research using ecological stimuli has yielded important new insights regarding attentional selection under naturalistic viewing conditions that were not predicted from classical attention theories. For example, visual search for familiar object categories (e.g., animals, people, cars) in cluttered natural scenes is remarkably more efficient than search in simple artificial stimulus arrays. These results are surprising because object category exemplars are complex objects consisting of specific conjunctions of several features, are highly variable from one viewing to the next, and are embedded in cluttered scenes with often dozens of other objects that compete for attention. I will discuss a series of fMRI and TMS studies that were aimed at elucidating the functional and neural basis of attentional selection from natural scenes.