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Cognitive Seminar Series

ELTE Cognitive Seminar: Bálint Forgács - Babies’ understanding of understanding: ERPs at the intersection of social cognition & language comprehension

When: 14th September 2016, Wednesday 10.30-12.00
ELTE-PPK, Institute of Psychology, Izabella utca 46, 4th floor, room 405

Infants already at 7 months of age seem to be tracking other people’s beliefs, and under certain conditions, already at 9 months of age seem to exhibit the N400 event related potential component, a neural marker of semantic incongruity detection well known in adults. In our study we wanted to investigate whether infants, similarly to adults, evaluate utterances from the perspective of a potential communicative partner. In order to investigate such social aspects of language processing, we presented various toys to 14-month-old infants, named them in the presence of an adult observer, and measured their electroencephalogram (EEG). On the basis of previous studies, we chose fifteen toys for which the labels are suspected to be known to infants, and named them by playing an audio file. We measured the infants’ ERPs time-locked to the onset of the object’s name. Half of the time the object was named congruently from the perspective of the infant, but incongruently from the perspective of the observer (who had a false belief about the identity of the object), and half of the time it was named congruently from both of their perspectives. Therefore, infants experienced a correct object label at all times, but the observer had either a true or a false belief about the identity of the object at the time of the object naming. Preliminary analysis of the ERPs revealed that the label incongruent for the observer evoked a greater negativity in the 300-500 ms time window over centro-parietal electrode sites in infants compared to the label congruent for both parties (p < .05). Further analyses and control experiments are under way, but the present finding already suggests that infants use their language comprehension system right from the onset to evaluate not only their own, but also their communicative partner’s comprehension of utterances.

ELTE Cognitive Seminar: Tom Verguts - Grounding cognitive control in associative learning

We would like to invite you to the next event from the ELTE Cognitive Seminar series:

Tom Verguts

Grounding cognitive control in associative learning

Place: ELTE-PPK, Institute of Psychology, Izabella utca 46, room P3
Time: September 15th, 2016 (Thursday), 10:30
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1234333133301257/

When: 15th September 2016, Thursday 10.30-12.00
ELTE-PPK, Institute of Psychology, Izabella utca 46, room P3

Traditionally, cognitive control and associative learning have been studied in different research traditions. In the cognitive control tradition, cognitive control is considered to go beyond, or be independent from, associative learning (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974; Bugg & Crump, 2012). However, recent models of cognitive control that have tried to pinpoint its computational and neural basis have, ironically, found associative learning to be an excellent basis for implementing cognitive control (Abrahamse, Braem, Notebaert, & Verguts, 2016; O’Reilly & Frank, 2006).

I will describe some of these models (Verguts & Notebaert, 2008; Verguts, Vassena, & Silvetti, 2015), and how they inform both behavioral and neural data. Behaviorally, a major emerging theme is choosing to invest effort in a task (or not); neurally, a major emerging theme is the role of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in relation to subcortical (dopamine, noradrenaline) structures.

Abrahamse, E. L., Braem, S., Notebaert, W., & Verguts, T. (2016). Grounding cognitive control in associative learning. Psychological Bulletin, 142(7), 693–728.
Baddeley, A., & Hitch, G. J. (1974). Working memory. In G. D. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (pp. 47–89). Academic Press.
Bugg, J. M., & Crump, M. J. C. (2012). In Support of a Distinction between Voluntary and Stimulus-Driven Control: A Review of the Literature on Proportion Congruent Effects. Frontiers in Psychology, 3(September). http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00367
O’Reilly, R. C., & Frank, M. J. (2006). Making working memory work: a computational model of learning in the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia. Neural Computation, 18(2), 283–328. http://doi.org/10.1162/089976606775093909
Verguts, T., & Notebaert, W. (2008). Hebbian learning of cognitive control: dealing with specific and nonspecific adaptation. Psychological Review, 115(2), 518–25. http://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.115.2.518
Verguts, T., Vassena, E., & Silvetti, M. (2015). Adaptive effort investment in cognitive and physical tasks: A neurocomputational model. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 9, 1–17.

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