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Events & Programs

Please click HERE for a complete listing of all events this term.

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FALL 2015 SEMESTER
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Fall 2015 programs

Thursday, September 3, 2015
4:00 pm, Tarbutton 218

LECTURE:  Cultural Sociology and Moral Psychology

Steve Vaisey
Department of Sociology
Duke University

In recent years, cultural sociologists have grown increasingly interested in psychology and some influential psychologists (e.g., Oishi et al 2009; Haidt 2012) have argued for closer connections to sociological theory and research. In this talk, I will outline some past and current work in which I have attempted to create bridges between sociology and psychology. I will also consider some concrete ways to improve interdisciplinary research on morality.


Sponsored by the Coalition of Graduate Sociologists (COGS) with support from the Department of Sociology and the CMBC.

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 Tuesday, September 8, 2015      
4:00 pm, PAIS 280

GRADUATE STUDENT TALK:  No Support for Declining Effect Sizes Over Time:  Evidence from Three Meta-Meta-Analyses.

Chris Martin
Department of Sociology
Emory University

In psychology (e.g., Schooler, 2011) and other fields (e.g., Jennions & Møller, 2001), there are reported cases of effect sizes declining over time. Later studies of a given phenomenon report smaller effect sizes than earlier studies. This decline suggests a publication bias toward large effects and regression to the mean. In the current study, we examine whether evidence exists for such a decline effect. In Study 1, we analyzed 3,488 effect sizes across 70 meta-analytic tables, which were drawn from 33 Psychological Bulletin articles (1980–2010). A multilevel analysis revealed no evidence of a linear or quadratic decline effect over time (indexed by publication year).  In Studies 2 and 3, we examined 50 meta-analyses each from social psychology and clinical psychology. In both studies, the modal meta-analysis showed no correlation between effect size and publication year. The decline effect in psychology appears to be less prevalent than earlier anecdotal reports suggest. For replications, this finding suggests that expectations that replications will have lower effect sizes than the original may be inaccurate and unfounded.

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Friday, September 18, 2015
12:00 pm         

LUNCH DISCUSSION:  Challenges and Advances in Understanding the Varieties of Mental Experience.
*Limited seating by reservation only.   Opportunities to register will be announced.*

Jennifer Mascaro
Department of Anthropology
Emory University

Carol Worthman
Department of Anthropology
Emory University

Anthropology has a long history of investigating human variation with the goal of understanding the genetic, environmental, and epigenetic sources of variation existing within and between human populations. Yet the field has historically focused on variation from the neck down. In this discussion we identify inherent challenges to understanding the varieties of mental experience and explore several of the latest methodological advances that have helped researchers better address questions of human brain variation.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015  
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE:  Cognitive and Neural Mechanisms of Persistence. 

Joe Kable
Department of Psychology
University of Pennsylvania

People often choose larger future rewards over smaller immediate ones, but then abandon that choice before the future reward arrives. Examples include starting a diet but then not sticking to it, quitting smoking but then relapsing, and most new year's resolutions. Psychologists often explain such behavior by reference to fundamental limitations in human cognitive systems, such as limited willpower or self-control. I will argue for an alternative explanation, in which the failure to persist toward delayed outcomes arises from a rational reevaluation process regarding temporally uncertain delayed rewards. I will talk about our work showing the critical role of uncertainty in persistence towards future outcomes and examining how different forms of uncertainty are encoded in the brain and affect other neural representations during voluntary persistence.

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 Tuesday, September 29, 2015   
12:00 noon

LUNCH DISCUSSION:  What Is Normal Sleep?
*Limited seating by reservation only.   Opportunities to register will be announced.*

Benjamin Reiss
Department of English
Emory University

David Rye
Department of Neurology
Emory University School of Medicine

We will discuss our collaboration as co-teachers of a course called "Sleep in Science and Culture" and our consultations with each other since.  We aim to show how a discussion between disciplines can help define what is normal and what is pathological, and the consequences of making those distinctions.  

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015            
4:15 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE:  Perceiving Spanish and English in Miami: Discourse, Representation, & Implicit Bias

Phillip Carter
Department of Linguistics
Florida International University

In 1993, Time magazine dubbed Miami “the Capital of Latin America.” At the time, Miami’s Hispanic / Latino population was at roughly 50% and was overwhelmingly Cuban-origin. In the ensuing two decades, Miami’s Hispanic / Latino population has continued to grow, reaching 65% in Miami-Dade County and 78% in the City of Miami in 2010. At the same time, the Cuban-origin share has fallen to below 50%. Both of these developments owe to the economic and political crises in Latin America in the 1990s and 2000s that brought unprecedented numbers of Colombians, Venezuelans, Peruvians, Dominicans, and other Spanish-speaking groups to South Florida. As a result of the socio-demographic changes, Miami is now both the most Latino large city in the U.S. (79%) and the most foreign-born (65%). It is also most likely to be the most bilingual large city in North America and the most dialectally-diverse Spanish speaking city in the world. The richness of the sociolinguistic landscape raises important questions about the ways in which Miami’s linguistic diversity is mentally represented and enacted in social interaction. How are Spanish and English perceived in terms of sociocultural prestige? Which language is thought to be most valuable for success in Miami’s boom-and-bust economy? Do Latinos and non-Latinos differ in their perceptions of English and Spanish? Do Miami residents exhibit implicit biases toward Spanish or English? If so, how do these biases vary according to social categories, such as ethnicity? Do biases co-vary with length of residency in Miami? And does living in Miami strengthen or diminish an individual’s automatic preferences for English or Spanish? In this talk, I present the findings of two ongoing perceptual studies conducted with over 500 residents of Miami-Dade County. The first is a matched guise experiment (Lambert et al. 1956) designed to test perceptions of English and Spanish across a range of sociocultural and socioeconomic factors, including warmth and competence personality traits. The second is an implicit association test (IAT, Greenwald, McGhee, and Schwartz, 1998) designed to test biases to textual and oral stimuli in Spanish and English. Findings from both studies are considered in light of competing national narratives about Spanish in the United States: Spanish-as-threat (Chavez 2008) and Spanish-as-commodity (Dávila 2008).

Sponsored by the CMBC and the Stipe Fund, the Departments of German Studies and Russian and East Asian Languages (REALC), and the Program in Linguistics.  

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Thursday, October 1, 2015          
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE:  Why Do We Perform Rituals?

Dimitris Xygalatas
Department of Anthropology
University of Connecticut

Ritual is a puzzling aspect of behavior, as it involves obvious expenditures of effort, energy and resources without equally obvious payoffs. Evolutionary theorists have long proposed that such costly behaviors would not have survived throughout human history unless they conveyed certain benefits to their practitioners. But what might those benefits be, and how can they be operationalised and measured? This talk will present a series of studies that combined laboratory and field methods to explore the puzzle of ritualized behavior among humans.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015        
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE:  Speech Is Special and Language Is Structured

David Poeppel
Max Planck Institute, Frankfurt Main
and
Department of Psychology and Neural Science
New York University

I discuss two new studies that focus on general questions about the cognitive science and neural implementation of speech and language. I come to (currently) unpopular conclusions about both domains. Based on a first set of experiments, using fMRI and exploiting the temporal statistics of speech, I argue for the existence of a speech-specific processing stage that implicates a particular neuronal substrate that has the appropriate sensitivity and selectivity for speech (Overath et al. 2015). Based on a second set of experiments, using MEG, I show how temporal encoding can form the basis for more abstract, structural processing. The results demonstrate that, during listening to connected speech, cortical activity of different time scales is entrained concurrently to track the time course of linguistic structures at different hierarchical levels. Critically, entrainment to hierarchical linguistic structures is dissociated from the neural encoding of acoustic cues and from processing the predictability of incoming words. These results demonstrate syntax-driven, internal construction of hierarchical linguistic structure via entrainment of hierarchical cortical dynamics (Ding et al. 2015). The conclusions I reach — that speech is special and language syntactic-structure-driven — provide new neurobiological provocations to the prevailing view that speech perception is ‘mere' hearing and that language comprehension is ‘mere' statistics.

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Friday, October 30, 2015
Saturday, October 31, 2015

NEUROSCIENCE WORKSHOP:  Dimensionality Reduction

Byron Yu
Biomedical Engineering
And
Electrical & Mechanical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University

Dimensionality Reduction of Large-Scale Neural Recordings during Sensorimotor Control

Most sensory, cognitive, and motor functions rely on the interaction among many neurons.  To analyze the activity of many neurons together, many groups are now adopting advanced statistical methods, such as dimensionality reduction.  In this talk, I will first describe how dimensionality reduction can be used in a closed-loop experimental setting to understand how learning is shaped by the underlying neural circuitry.  Then, I will describe a novel latent variable model that extracts a subject's internal model during sensorimotor control.

Gordon Berman
Biology
Emory University

Compressing Animal Behavior

Animals perform a complex array of behaviors, from changes in body posture to vocalizations to other dynamic outputs.  Far from being a disordered collection of actions, however, there is thought to be an intrinsic structure to the set of behaviors and their temporal and functional organization.  In this talk, I will introduce a novel method for mapping the behavioral space of organisms.  This method relies only upon the underlying structure of postural movement data to organize and classify behavior, eschewing ad hoc behavioral definitions entirely and effectively compressing the vast amounts of data being collected.  Applying this method to videos of freely-behaving fruit flies (D. melanogaster), I will show that the organisms’ behavioral repertoire consists of a hierarchically-organized set of stereotyped behaviors.  This hierarchical patterning results in the emergence of long time scales of memory in the system, providing insight into the mechanisms of behavioral control over that occur over seconds, minutes, hours, days, and the entire lifetime of the fly.  Lastly, I will show the generality of this approach to behavioral analysis — specifically its applicability to other species, alternative behavioral modalities, and high-throughput screens investigating the underlying neurobiology and genetics of behavior.

Chris Rozell
Bioengineering
And
Data Signal Processing
Georgia Institute of Technology

Dimensionality Reduction as a Model of Efficient Coding in the Visual Pathway

The engineering and applied math communities often exploit the fact that natural stimuli have significant structure that lends itself well to dimensionality reduction.  The efficient coding hypothesis for sensory neural coding postulates that stages of neural processing should sequentially make the representations more efficient by removing stimulus redundancies, and this is often expressed in the language of information theory.  In this talk I will present our work exploring efficient coding models of vision based on dimensionality reduction, including sparsity, low-rank matrix factorizations and random projections.  I will show that such approaches are able to account for many observed properties in visual cortex, including classical receptive fields, response properties based on nonclassical or nonlinear receptive fields, and properties of the inhibitory interneurons.

Lena Ting
Biomedical Engineering
Emory University
and
Georgia Institute of Technology

Modularity in Neural Control of Movement

Neuromechanical principles define the properties and problems that shape neural solutions for movement. Although the theoretical and experimental evidence is debated, I will present arguments for consistent modular structures in motor patterns that are neuromechanical solutions for movement particular to an individual and shaped by evolutionary, developmental, and learning processes.

Phil Wolff
Psychology
Emory University

The Large-Scale Structure of the Mental Dictionary: A Data Mining Approach Using Word2Vec, t-SNE, and GMeans

Sponsored by CMBC with additional support from the Emory College Neuroscience  Fund, the Institute for Quantitative Methods (QuanTM), and the Cognitive Neuroscience Training Grant (CNTG).

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015             
4:15 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE:  Bilingualism:  Consequences for Mind and Brain

Ellen Bialystok
Department of Psychology
York University, Toronto

A growing body of research points to a significant effect of bilingualism on cognitive outcomes across the lifespan. The main finding is evidence for the enhancement of executive control at all stages in the lifespan, with the most dramatic results being maintained cognitive performance in elderly adults and protection against the onset of dementia. These results shed new light on the question of how cognitive and linguistic systems interact in the mind and brain. I will review evidence from both behavioral and imaging studies and propose a framework for understanding the mechanism that could lead to the reported consequences of bilingualism and the limitation or absence of these effects under some conditions.

Sponsored by the CMBC with additional support from the Department of Psychology, the Departments of German Studies and Russian and East Asian Languages (REALC), the Program in Linguistics, and the Hightower Fund.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015    
12:00 noon, PAIS 464

POST-DOCTORAL LUNCH SYMPOSIUM:
*Limited seating by reservation only.   Opportunities to register will be announced.*

‘Precision Medicine’ Approach for Oxytocin’s Role in Social Behavior, from Rodents to Humans

Elissar Andari
Yerkes National Primate Research Center
Emory University

The neuropeptide oxytocin modulates a range of complex behaviors from parental care to pair bonding and memory. By using knockout mice, we show that oxytocin plays a role in the memory formation of social events. We also found that oxytocin is likely to play a significant role in the regulation of fear expression and extinction of negative events. Furthermore, through pharmacological manipulations, we observed that central administration of oxytocin antagonist to socially monogamous prairie voles abolishes their prosocial-like responses to the stress of others. There is growing evidence for the role of this molecule in promoting socio-emotional skills in healthy subjects and in neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We show that acute intranasal administration of oxytocin impacts social behavior and the BOLD activity of key brain regions involved in perception and emotional processes in individuals with ASD. Here, I will discuss the social dysfunction of ASD and oxytocin’s role in social behavior within a “precision medicine” approach that accounts for phenotype, outcome measures and inter-individual variability.

The Oral Microbiome of Pregnant Smokers and Marijuana Users

Irene Yang
School of Nursing
Emory University

In 2013, 11.39% of births in the US were preterm. African American (AA) women have a higher risk of preterm birth and premature infants are vulnerable to a host of immediate and long-term complications. Tobacco smoking and marijuana use are associated with the occurrence of preterm birth. Biological mechanisms underlying these associations, however, are not well understood. Periodontal disease may be a mediating mechanism by virtue of the dysregulation it causes in the normal pregnancy
systemic inflammatory state. Periodontal disease results from an infection of microorganisms at the tooth-gingival interface, and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to this infection due to the hormonal shifts occurring in their body. Exposure to tobacco and marijuana smoke increases that vulnerability. This presentation will describe the oral microbiome of pregnant African American non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers, and any relationship that their microbial environment may have with the occurrence of preterm birth.

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 Thursday, November 19, 2015   
4:00 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE:  Self, Schizophrenia, and the Unwholly Spirit:  A Pathway to Ecumenical Naturalism

George Graham
Department of Philosophy and Neuroscience Institute
Georgia State University

Normal self-consciousness typically includes the compelling sense that my own experiences belong to me – one person, one whole and unified center of consciousness.  That common and compelling feature of wholeness and distinctness often is lost or broken in certain experiences in schizophrenia as well as in mystical or religious experiences. The experience of self-consciousness or self-awareness in schizophrenia often is constituted by dramatic breakdowns in the experience of the self or “I”.  Many so-called mystical or religious experiences include similar breakdowns.

Such similarities have long been recognized in the literatures on mental illness and mysticism.  The question is, ‘What to do about them?’  It would be a mistake to equate mysticism with psychosis but helpful to examine whether the two sorts of experiences are similar in their cognitive foundations.  Ecumenical Naturalism (EN) claims that experiences of self in schizophrenia and in mysticism share some of the same cognitive foundations.  Various religious social contexts and practices elicit, engage and manipulate those psychological systems in ways that yield thoughts and experiences that are quite similar to those associated with mental disorders like schizophrenia.  EN aims to identify those foundations and to compare and contrast the differences in consequences between relevant illnesses and mystical experiences (when not signs of illness). My talk will describe EN, one of its essential assumptions, which is derived from some recent work in the cognitive science of religion, and illustrate its method. The relevant assumption is that religious experiences are sustained by a whole variety of cognitive systems, which are part of our regular psychological equipment, mystical experiences or no mystical experiences, schizophrenia or no schizophrenia.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015
4:15 pm, PAIS 290

LECTURE:  Myths and Misunderstandings about Dual Language Acquisition in Young Learners

Fred Genesee
Department of Psychology
McGill University, Montreal

There has been growing interest in children who learn language in diverse contexts and under diverse circumstances. In particular, dual language acquisition has become the focus of much research attention, arguably as a reflection of the growing awareness that dual language learning is common in children.  A deeper understanding of dual language learning under different circumstances is important to ensure the formulation of theories of language learning that encompass all language learners and to provide critical information for clinical and other practical decisions that touch the lives of all language learners. This talk will review research findings on dual language learning in both school and non-school settings, among simultaneous and sequential bilinguals, and in typically-developing learners and those with an impaired capacity for language learning. Key findings with respect to common myths and misunderstandings that surround dual language acquisition in young learners will be reviewed and discussed and their implications for both theoretical and practical matters will be considered. 

Sponsored by the CMBC with additional support from the Departments of German Studies and Russian and East Asian Languages (REALC), the Program in Linguistics, and the Hightower Fund.

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