Graduate Courses

Graduate Courses in Language and Cognition: SPRING 2015.

Please contact the course instructor for more details about scheduling, course numbers, location, permission numbers, etc.

  • Connectionist Models.  PSYC 5515 (Instructor:  Jay Rueckl). Friday 9:00AM – 12:00PM  Bous162.  This course examines the role of computational modeling in cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience.  As the course title suggests, one focus of the course will be connectionist models(AKA parallel distributed processing models or artificial neural networks).  However, we will also cover other approaches to computational modeling, including dynamical systems, ‘realistic’ neural network models, Bayesian approaches, and ‘stipulated’ cognitive models such as TRACE and the Dual-route Model. We will examine the use of computational modeling in domains such as reading, language, learning and memory, and semantic knowledge;  models addressing typical and atypical development, the impact of brain damage, and individual differences; and accounts of both behavioral and brain data.  A key goal will be to develop an understanding of the computational principles embodied in models of each sort and the meta-theories that different modelers adopt about the goals of modeling and the criteria for model evaluation.
  • Cognition Dynamics, (Instructor, Ed Large).Tu 1:00PM – 4:00PM in Bousfield A105.  The “Dynamical Systems Approach” is a broad theoretical framework imported from the physical sciences into psychology and cognitive science over the past several decades. It can be seen as offering an alternative to the computational and information-processing approach that has been traditionally applied in main stream cognitive science. Dynamical systems approaches treat neural, perceptual, cognitive, developmental and/or behavioral processes (among others) as dynamic systems that are best described as complex, nonlinear systems in which self-organization and emergent properties explain phenomena of interest. In this seminar we will survey the emerging field of cognition dynamics. Papers will be drawn from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, computation, physics, linguistics, music and philosophy. We will discuss dynamical systems approaches, models and theories, focusing on theoretical models and empirical reports that illustrate that breadth of phenomena to which the dynamical systems framework can be applied. This class will be taught seminar style: Each student will be responsible for one or two presentations covering the day’s reading material.
  • Advanced Speech Science II: Speech Perception. SLHS 5362 (Instructor, Emily Myers).  Thursdays, 5-8 PM.  The speech signal undergoes many transformations between the impact of sound upon the cochlea to understanding a spoken message.  Listeners must be able not only to perceive the acoustic cues which distinguish one speech sound from another, but must also be able to accommodate variation which comes from different speakers, different accents, different phonetic contexts, and different speech rates.  Moreover, the speech signal carries more information than just the linguistic message: we perceive emotion, prosody, and talker identity via the speech signal.  In this course we will examine the steps the listener undergoes to transform the acoustic signal into meaning.  We will focus on acoustic and visual properties of speech, models of speech perception, and the cognitive neuroscience of speech perception.   Each topic will be considered both from the perspective of unimpaired perception, as well as with respect to special populations.
  • Event Cognition. (Instructor, Gerry Altmann). Time & location TBA,  Events are a fundamental unit of cognition. They are also what typical sentences denote: i.e. that someone did something, possibly to someone, and possibly at some time and in some location. What are the critical aspects of language that convey event-relevant information? How are these aspects used, and when, as sentences unfold? And what other faculties, beyond language, support event cognition? For example, on hearing “the young boy will ride his bike from his front yard to school”, how do we use world knowledge to constrain our anticipation of what he might ride and where he might ride it? How do we keep track of where the bike is as the sentence unfolds? And how do we know where the bike will be if the sentence continues “but first he’ll pump up the tires”? We shall review relevant studies from different literatures ranging from neuroscience to sentence and discourse processing, across tasks as diverse as eye tracking, priming, and video segmentation. Our goal will be to understand what are the ‘representational products’ of language, and how these develop as we hear or read. Although most (but not all) of the readings will relate to language research, language can be considered a proxy for experiencing the world as it changes about us, and one purpose of the course is to stress how language is just a tool we use to convey to someone who was absent at the time of a real world-event what they would have experienced had they seen the event with their own eyes. The format will be seminar: At each class we will discuss the paper(s) that have been assigned for that day’s topic. Each discussion will have at least one “facilitator” who will start the discussion by providing a brief overview of the paper.
  • Sentence and Discourse Processing.  PSYC 5583, (Instructor, Whitney Tabor),  Tuesdays 9:30am-12:30pm. This course will provide a grounding in current work in sentence processing and in discourse processing.    Research in the generative linguistic tradition identifies a unity in language supported by formal insight at the syntactic level of description (key ideas are recursive generation and a combinatorial form-meaning map).  This framework forms a platform for work on sentence processing, in which precise methods for probing the way people comprehend language in real time are giving us detailed new information about the nature of language encoding.  Ironically, some of this new information, especially patterned grammatical interference phenomena, where people tend to blend grammatical structures (e.g., “The picture on the postcards are beautiful”)  is posing a challenge to assumptions about the nature of grammatical representation.  I will argue for a reformulation of the theory that preserves the insights of recursive computation but recognizes rich, continuous relationships among structures .   Relevant evidence comes from experiments on sentence and discourse processing,  grammaticality judgment, historical linguistics, philosophy of language, and artificial language learning.    The format will be a seminar with weekly readings, discussion, and a final paper.

Listed below are some of our current, past, and planned offerings:

The Mental Lexicon
Connectionist Modelling
Dynamics of Language and Cognition
Sentence & Discourse Processing
Speech Perception
Dynamical Systems and Cognition
Topics In Music Cognition/Auditory Perception
FMRI Methods
Neurobiology of Reading
Neurobiology of Language
Time Course Methods
Grant Writing
Semantic Memory
Event Cognition
Psychology of Language