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Cognitive Neuroscience Society 2015!

posted Apr 2, 2015, 2:24 PM by Keith Doelling   [ updated Apr 2, 2015, 2:24 PM ]
I spent the last week in San Francisco at CNS 2015. While I wasn't presenting this time I around, I was happy to discuss my new paper (under review at JoN) and see all of the exciting new work that presented in talks, mini-symposia and posters throughout the conference. It was great to talk to my lab mates outside of the lab and hear about their new ideas.

Of particular highlight was the Neural Bases of Speech Production Satellite Symposium to where a number of interesting talks were given on the role of sensory feedback in error monitoring in speech control as well as automatic responses to altered pitch feedback. One particularly interesting talk was presented by Carrie Niziolek. She showed findings that suggest that efferent copies (the signal sent from motor to sensory areas predicting sensory consequences of motor movement) do not represent acoustic variability associated with slightly different motor movements but rather reflect the most ideal goal or template sound. Further, she showed that the content that is represented is dependent on the speaker intent: if I'm more focused on the pitch of my utterance then the copy will contain pitch related predictions rather than the vowel space. Her findings were particularly interesting to me as it makes predictions as to what type of information can be communicated from motor to auditory areas. The idea that you send an ideal template of the sensory prediction rather than specific acoustic differences would lend itself to the idea that motor system could be useful to generate predictions of sounds generated of other speakers. I'm working now on some ideas that could get at this relationship. 

David Poeppel, my advisor, gave a great talk at a mini-symposium in the conference called "What can be, or should be, the relationship between language and neuroscience?" David pushed the audience to move beyond the typical correlations between behavior and brain area X, which, though useful, is merely descriptive. The focus should be on mapping the primitives of linguistics (syllables, morphemes, etc.) to the primitives of neuroscience (neuron, dendrites, populations, etc.) by fractionating them into more basic functions that can apply to both. One example relates to my work on neural oscillations, which could provide a function of segmenting words into syllables using the individual cycles.

Beyond the conference, San Francisco was beautiful and the weather phenomenal. I'm sad to leave but happy to be back with a bag of new ideas and a new burst of energy to try out some new experiments.