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IM seminars

February 19Uffe SchjødtThe optimal context for praying: effects of sensory deprivation and material symbols
We investigate how sensory deprivation and material symbols affect the performance and experience of praying. Building on a prediction model of experience, we suggest that darkness and the presence of a crucifix may increase the probability of participants reporting a successful prayer experience. Whereas darkness effectively reduces individuals’ access to information that conflicts with their religious beliefs and expectations, the presence of a crucifix may provide cognitive support for these beliefs. Importantly, we hypothesize that the crucifix may only support religious experience in the context of darkness because darkness prevents detection of mismatches between individual expectations and coflicting details of the artifact. I also present two bonus studies on the effects of prayer on empathy and social cohesion.

February 26Gregory MillsClarifying reference and plans in dialogue
One of the most contentious debates in studies of dialogue concerns the explanatory role assigned to interlocutors' intentions. In (post) Gricean cognitive/pragmatic models of meaning (e.g. Sperber and Wilson 1987, Searle 1979, Levinson 2006), intentions play the central role: intentions are a priori mental states determining a speaker's utterance formulation. Similarly, for hearers, comprehension involves recognizing or inferring the speaker's intentions. Successful communication is idealized as involving intentional transparency between speaker and hearer, and a key problem for these models is accounting for which structures (beliefs, codes, inferences) are shared or known
to be shared by interlocutors (Kecskes and Mey 2008).

By contrast, empirical approaches which focus in the first instance on how language is used in dialogue present a more nuanced view of the role of intentions: for example, in a series of maze game experiments, Garrod et al (2004) found that explicit articulation of speaker intentions is much less effective than more tacit forms of communication via collaborative feedback (e.g. hesitations, disfluencies, partial repeats, clarifications and repair). Moreover, the basic findings of dialogue research show how collaborative feedback often leads to speakers adapting their own utterance mid-stream, resulting in incrementally and jointly produced utterances which necessarily do not correspond to the original speaker's own intention or goal (Goodwin, 1979). Under this view, intentions, plans, and beliefs are treated as joint construals
(Clark, 1996) that are emergent from the interaction.

To address these issues this talk reports a variant of the "maze task" (Garrod et al 1987, 2004), in which participants are required to collaboratively develop sequences of steps for solving the mazes. Participants communicate with each other using an experimental chat tool (Healey and Mills 2006), which interferes with the unfolding dialogue by inserting artificial clarification requests thatappear, to participants as if they originate from each other. Two kinds of clarification request were introduced: (1) Artificial "Why?" questions to query the participants' plan,(2) Fragment clarification requests (Healey et al 2003) that repeat a single word from the prior turn, querying the content of participants' referential descriptions.

Over the course of the interaction, interlocutors change how they treat these two kinds of clarification request: "Why?" clarification requests querying higher level plans become easier to respond to as co-ordination develops, while for fragment clarification requests the converse is the case: they become harder to respond to as the task progresses. Further, we show how this differential pattern is not arrived at via explicit negotiation, but through the tacit turn-by-turn feedback mechanisms of dialogue.

March 5Claire Petitmengin (Institut Télécom) "Enaction as lived experience"
May the "first person" point of view contribute to evaluate the relevance of the theory of enaction, according to which the separation between the knower and the known, the subjective and objective poles, far from being given, is the result of a process?  Starting from an exploration of the micro-dynamics of pre-reflective experience, we will try to provide elements of answers  to this question.

See also the workshop with Claire  March 5th.

March 12: Andreas Roepstorff: The Proof  of the pudding: predictive brains in interaction (or how to “culturally marinate” extended minds).

Innovation and Coordination
This paper discusses innovation as a social process by relating such processes to research on social cognition. Social cognition entails the alignment of two or more persons’ meaningful representations of the world. Such alignment, we propose, may be particularly difficult during innovation processes because the innovation itself is surrounded by uncertainty and ambiguity. The paper outlines some key theoretical premises for such a proposition and discusses whether it is possible to investigate experimentally whether uncertainty and indeterminacy add to the complexity of alignment.

March 26: No seminar (Easter Break)
April 2: Riccardo Fussaroli & Kristian Tylen
A Heart for Coordination: heart rate synchronization in a collective, creative construction task
What happens when people jointly engage and manipulate representational artefacts for purposes of reasoning? How do they manage to coordinate and build a common ground? Which kinds of individual and collective cognitive processes are involved? In this talk we report from an experiment in which groups of participants cooperated to jointly construct LEGO models illustrating abstract concepts such as ‘responsibility’ and ‘justice’. Participants' heart rate was recorded and their behaviours coded.
First we investigated behavioural coordination and we show that both verbal and building behaviours get increasingly coordinated between participants. Interestingly coordination grows also across modalities, with one participant verbal behaviour becoming increasingly coordinated with the other's building behaviour.
Second, we investigated physiological synchronisation. We show that participants display increase in heart rate synchronisation over time as modulated by two factors: the shared affordances of the task the participants are accomplishing and the increasing verbal co-ordination between them.
Third we are investigating group differences in the coordinative strategies developed and their effects on physiological synchronisation.
We thus argue that participant groups, each in slightly different ways, increasingly become one LEGO construction system by tightly integrating their behaviours and synchronising physiological indexes.

April 9: No Seminar: Workshop on Collaboration

April 16: Davide Folloni: 
Oxytocin: the key for the social interactions
Oxytocin is a neuropeptide released by the hypothalamus and play an important role in the modulation of the social behavior in humans as well as animals. In rodents it is deputated to several functions such as: social recognition, stress response, bonding,  anxiety and aggression. The rat model for the fetal Valproate Syndrome has yielded an interesting impairment in some features of the social behavior in these animals. In particular have been proposed that a disfunction in the oxytocinergic system may contribute to the observed behavior in this model.
April 23: Lene Aarøe and Michael Bang Petersen
Cognitive Bias and the Social Transmission of Political Frames


A rich body of research demonstrates that media framing and elite communications can influence how ordinary citizens think and talk about political issues. However, there has been surprisingly little systematic research into the factors that make particular frames strong over time – i.e., influence why some frames are strongly transmitted in public debate while others perish over time? Based on theories of cultural transmission from the cognitive sciences, we outline a model for understanding the transmission of political frames that focus on the fit between the psychological input conditions of evolved cognitive systems and frames available in political communication. We make the key prediction that political frames that fit cognitive systems are more easily copied and transmitted among lay individuals than frames lacking fit. Focusing on the case of transmission of episodic and thematic frames, we test this prediction in a unique research design implementing the kids game ‘Broken Telephone’ in three consecutive experimental online surveys fielded to nationally representative samples. This design allows us to investigate which rhetorical frames that are reliably encoded and transmitted by observing actual chains of transmission.

April 30: Frederik Stjernfelt
Peirce and Cognition: What are Dicisigns?

This presentation outlines my ongoing preoccupation with Peirce's semiotics - why I find it has much to offer current studies in cognition. It provides an overarching framework where notions like logic, cognition, perception, reasoning connect in quite different ways than often taken for granted.
I shall highlight two interrelated points particularly: 1) The broad notion of propositions: Dicisigns. 2) Diagrammatical reasoning

May 7: Martin Dietz

May 14: No seminar

May 21: Morten Aagard

May 28: Katrin Heyman:
 Blink along = think along - Some ideas about blinking, thinking, communication and film
In his book "In a blink of an eye" the cameraman and editor Walter Murch, wondering about our seemingly natural ability to understand cuts in movies, puts forward the provocative thesis: 
"A cut is a cinematic blink." 
His intuitions leading to this statement might be pointedly summed up as follows:
Blinks can be described as short interruptions of vision elicited by mostly non-conscious eye closures often followed by a switch of perspective. As such they provide us with an experience similar to cuts. This can be "used" by the filmmaker in the sense of 
a) "hiding" cuts - as the disruption of normal vision that cuts seem to represent
b) "preparing" cuts/ "helping" the storyline - in announcing a switch of perspective/attention.
In my talk I will elaborate on these ideas by referring to previous research about blinking:
its rate (in normal and pathological individuals), its precise timing (in visual and non visual tasks as well as in communicative situations), and its supposed functions (lubrication/protection, attention guiding/attention switching?).
This leads me to hypothesize the existence of a special "communicative-cognitive blink" possibly facilitating communication among individuals by enabling attentional/cognitive synchronization of the communicative partners. I will end by presenting some experimental ideas how to explore this hypothesis - for which I hope to receive your input.

June 4: Alejandra Scherman
Cultural Life Script Theory: The Greenlandic Life Script & Life Story Events 
Adults older than 40 years remember a significantly greater amount of personal life events from their 15 - 30 years of age. This phenomenon is known as the reminiscence bump. The reminiscence bump is highly populated by emotionally positive events, such as falling in love, getting married, having children, and going to college. Berntsen and Rubin presented a cultural explanation for the bump: Cultural Life Script Theory. Their theory claims that the bump can be explained by the life script; that is, culturally shared expectations about the order and timing of life events in an typical, idealized life course. According to the cultural life script theory, the life script is used as a guideline for the recall of autobiographical memories, which help construct personal life stories.
In order to test the cultural life script theory, we collected life script and life story events from 565 participants in Mexico, Greenland, China, and Denmark. Results show that the life-span distribution of life script events resemble the life-span distribution of life story events, therefore adding empirical support to the cultural life script theory. This finding is replicated across countries. I will present data from the Greenlandic sample to illustrate such results.
June 11: TBA
June 18:  Anders Brodin: Cognitive skills in the great tit Parus major and speciation by perception in the crow Corvus corone hybrid zone in Jutland. 

I will talk about two different questions, a lab experiment observational learning in the great tit and an artifical neural network simulation of visual perception and species recognition in crows. 
      Scatter hoarding birds rely on their spatial memory to relocate cached food. Species that are large scale hoarders have an especially good memory capacity with ensuing specialization of the brain. Specialized hoarders among the Corvidae (crows, nutcrackers, jays, etc.) and the Paridae (titmice and chickadees) can memorize the positions of hundreds of separate caches in nature. Individuals of such species will also steal caches from each other, and such cache loss is a serious problem for scatter hoarders. The ability to observe others cache and memorize their caching positions, however, seems to be poorly developed. Such an ability is more advanced than the ability to memorize own caches, for excample it might require understanding of allocentric spece. 

The common raven is considered to be an unusually smart bird and it is the only species that appears to be really good at this type of observational learning. Some other corvids, for example scrub jays, can also do it even if they are not as accurate as ravens. it has been demosntrated that parids (black-capped chickadees) do not have this ability. In a laboratory we allowed caged great tits to observe marsh tits store in a hoarding arena. Later, the great tits remembered caching locations both after one and 24 hours. 

One of Europes most famous hybrid zones is the one between the all black carrion crow (sort krage) and the grey and black hooded crow (grå krage). The carrion crow occurs in Western Germany (and France, England and Spain) whereas the hooded crow occurs in Scandinavia (and Scotland, Ireland, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe). Where these subspecies meet they hybridize in a narrow hybrid zone. This zone crosses Southern Jutland in an east-Weastern direction just north of the German/Danish border. The zone is 50-70 km wide and around 30% of the individuals in it are hybrids. The zone is maintained by assortative mating, hooded crows are prone to mate with hooded crows and carrions with carrions. Crows learn their mating preferences as nestlings in a process called sexual imprinting, by obsering their parents. In an artifial neural network simulation I have trained networks to recognize either carrions, hoodeds or hybrids as their own, parental type. After training the networks were exposed to pictures of crows they had not "seen" during training. networks of types carrion or hoodeds made few errors, they recognized their own type. Hybrid type networks were more confused. I discuss the partner recognition abilities suggested by the network simulation, and what effects this will ahev on the shape of the crow hybrid zone.
June 25: TBA