Colloquium Schedule

Institute of Cognitive Science Colloquium Schedule

All colloquia take place on Friday from 12:00 to 2:00 pm (unless otherwise noted) in Room D428 and D430 on the fourth floor of the Muenzinger Psychology Building.

If you have questions, please call the ICS Office at 303-492-5063.

Fall 2016

September 2, 2016 ~ Opening Session
ICS Director, Dr. T. Sumner, Opening Speech
• Christine Brennan (SLSH/ICS), and Jennifer Jacobs (Math Education/ICS): Neural bases of language scaffolding for math abilities
• McKell Carter (Psych/ICS) and Zach Kilpatrick (Applied Math): How risky is my rival? Probabilistic inference models of decision making under social uncertainty
• Al Kim (Psych/ICS) and Mans Hulden (Ling/ICS): Harnessing computational language models to understand the neurophysiology of real-time human language processing

September 5, 2016
Labor Day, Campus Closed

September 8, 2016 (Thursday), 5-6 PM
Hosted at:
Colorado State University, Lory Student Center Theatre
Elizabeth Loftus
Distinguished Professor at University of California-Irvine, School of Social Ecology

September 9, 2016
Jessica Witt
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Colorado State University

Title: Spatial Perception Is Action-Specific: Softballs Look Bigger to Batters Who Are Hitting Better Than Others

Abstract: Perception of the surrounding environment is shaped by a person’s body and ability to act within the environment. For example, hills appear steeper and distances appear farther to people who are obese, lack physical fitness, or are fatigued.  Sports targets appear bigger and slower to athletes who are playing better than others. Even though the optical information processed by the eye is exactly the same, target objects look different across perceivers and across situations as a function of the perceiver’s ability to act. This research calls for changes to current theories of spatial perception to incorporate the body and its actions as an influential source of information.

September 16, 2016 - Distinguished Speaker Talk
Lucy Vanderwende
Senior Researcher, Microsoft

Title: Question Generation, More Than a Syntactic Transformation

Abstract: In this talk, I will focus on the role that questions play in human communication. Most of the data used in NLP has been WSJ and other expository text, with questions underrepresented in our data, to the extent that there are excellent parsers in existence that simply fail to parse the simplest question. The role of questions in automated tutoring systems has been explored, but only as needed for a specific domain. As we move to building NLP systems that understand and take part in general conversation, however, it is a good time to get curious about how questions are formulated and what they reveal about the underlying grounding of the conversation. I will review three related studies of question generation: determining the question focus given a sentence, question formulation with scope beyond the sentence, and question generation for images. For each of these topics, we demonstrate that question generation is not a matter of syntactic transformation, but rather presents a challenge to identify what the focus of the question should be, distinguishing what is in a question from what is understood or observed. We hope to use our study of questions to learn more about what people choose to be curious about, using only a small set of question words to explore the wide range of our experience.

September 30, 2016
INC 5 Year Anniversary Talk **NOTE LOCATION CHANGE: Center for Innovation & Creativity (1777 Exposition Dr. Bldr)

Join INC scientists as we celebrate our 5th anniversary and upgraded facilities. Dr. Marie Banich, Professor of Psychology and Executive Director of INC, will give an overview of brain imaging research at the INC. Drs. Angela Bryan, Tor Wager and McKell Carter will discuss and take questions regarding their research on aging and exercise, pain, and autism and social decision making. In addition, we will have ongoing tours of the INC facilities. Please RSVP by filling out the brief registration form:

October 14, 2016 - Distiguished Speaker Talk
Bill Croft

Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of New Mexico

Title: Linguistic Typology Meets Universal Dependencies - From Teaching Syntax to Annotating Digital Corpora

Abstract: Current work on universal dependency schemes in NLP do not make reference to the extensive typological research on language universals, but could benefit since many principles are shared between the two enterprises. I propose a revision of the dependency types in the Universal Dependencies scheme (UD 2014; Nivre 2015) based on the UD principles of lexicalism and content word to content word dependencies, and four principles derived from contemporary typological theory: dependencies should be based primarily on universal construction types over language-specific strategies; syntactic dependency labels should match lexical feature names for the same function; dependencies should be based on the information packaging function of constructions, not lexical semantic types; and dependencies should distinguish the “levels” of the functional dependency tree. The proposed revisions are based on a typological annotation scheme developed, and continuing to be developed, for teaching syntax to undergraduates at the University of New Mexico.

October 28, 2016
Steve Maier

Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder; Director of the Center for Neuroscience

Title: Dissecting Prefrontal Circuits That Mediate Resilience

Abstract: The ability to exert behavioral control over an adverse event both blunts the behavioral and neurochemical impact of that event, and also blunts responses to future adverse events even if they are quite different. This talk will review research (in rodents) that indicates that the resilience-inducing impact of control is mediated by three separable and distinct prefrontal circuits—a prefrontal-striatal circuit that detects control and prefrontal-brainstem (DRN) and prefrontal limbic (amygdala) circuits that uses this detection information to blunt the impact of the adverse event on stressor-sensitive brainstem and limbic structures. These prefrontal circuits utilize different and non-overlapping prefrontal cells, and control induces plasticity selectively in the prefrontal-brainstem and prefrontal limbic circuit, thereby conferring protection in the future (resilience). Other issues to be discussed include whether all sequelae of aversive events are blunted or whether there is selectivity/specificity and whether all resilience-inducing experiential variables utilize this same prefrontal circuitry.

November 4, 2016
Daniel Szafir

Assistant Professor, ATLAS Institute/Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado Boulder

Title: Leveraging Cognitive Engineering for Human-Robot Interaction

Abstract: Robots hold great promise in aiding humans across a range of domains, including emergency response, manufacturing and delivery, construction, space exploration, and health and fitness. While prior research has conducted in-depth investigations into various aspects related to robotic manipulation, planning, and control theory, the field of human-robot interaction (HRI), which examines issues pertaining to collaboration, safety, and real-world use, is still quite young. This talk will advance an argument that prior work in cognitive engineering and human-computer interaction (HCI) can be an invaluable source of inspiration for researchers and practitioners seeking to develop robots that can successfully interact with users. In particular, I will present three studies within the context of the Human Action Cycle, which appears to be a promising model that can help contextualize user interactions with robots and identify when and what type of breakdowns may occur. This work will be situated within the space of aerial robots, ranging from consumer-grade quadcopters to NASA robots developed for the International Space Station, with a discussion of how cognitive engineering might inform robotics more broadly.

November 11, 2016
Rafael Frongillo

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado Boulder

Title: Grading the Graders - Mechanisms for Peer Grading in Large Courses

Abstract: How should you grade the graders, review the reviewers, or score the scorers?  This is a question on the minds of many instructors coping with ever-increasing enrollments both in person and online.  One could try to automate the grading, as is done in many programming classes, but what about essays or even mathematical proofs, which are nuanced or inherently subjective?  The solution explored in this talk is peer grading: have the students grade each other.  The question then becomes, how do you grade these students on their own grading, so that they will have an incentive to give detailed and accurate feedback, but not to game the system or collude with friends?

We will see how to design peer grading mechanisms using a technique called peer prediction, where one reasons about how one grader's opinion "predicts" that of another grader.  I will give an overview of peer prediction mechanisms, how they apply to peer grading, and then show a few numerical experiments that suggest which mechanisms are most likely to work well in real classrooms.  We will also see how peer prediction applies to other crowdsourcing settings, such as labeling large data sets on Mechanical Turk for machine learning applications.

November 21-25, 2016
Fall/Thanksgiving Break
Campus closed November 24th and 25th