Schedule for Spring 2012

**Note: Talks marked with a double asterisk are not ICS talks but are approved for the ICS Topics class.


January 17, 2012 
-First day of classes

January 20, 2012
-Tal Yarkoni, Ph.D.
University of Colorado at Boulder, Wager Lab and ICS
Title: "Bridging the mind/brain gap with text: a novel framework for large-scale automated synthesis of functional MRI data"

The explosive growth of the human neuroimaging literature has led to major advances in understanding of human brain function, but has also made aggregation and synthesis of neuroimaging findings increasingly difficult. In this talk, I discuss some of the major challenges neuroimaging researchers face, and describe a novel brain mapping framework (Neurosynth) that uses text mining, meta-analysis and machine learning techniques to help address some of these challenges. The Neurosynth framework can be used to automatically conduct large-scale, high-quality neuroimaging meta-analyses, address long-standing inferential problems in the neuroimaging literature (e.g., how to infer cognitive states from distributed activity patterns), and support 'decoding' of broad cognitive states from brain activity in both entire studies and individual human subjects. I illustrate these applications with concrete examples from several domains, and introduce a web interface that provides access to the data and tools (, before concluding with a discussion of future directions and potential avenues for integration with other tools.  


February 7, 2012
-David McDonald, Ph.D
Associate Professor of The Information School, University of Washington

February 10, 2012
-Alice Healy, Ph.D.
University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Title: "Specificity and Transfer of Learning"

Knowledge is often highly specific to the conditions of acquisition, so there is limited transfer of learning from training to testing.  A series of studies is reported examining specificity and transfer of learning in three very different tasks, including digit data entry, speeded aiming, and time production.  These studies address a variety of theoretical issues, including those involving mental practice, variability of practice, and task integration.  Despite these differences across studies, they converge on the conclusion that specificity and transfer of learning are not mutually exclusive.  That is, significant specificity can occur even when participants appear to transfer their learning from training to testing.  Furthermore, the studies show that the extent of transfer and its direction (i.e., positive or negative) is largely dependent on the definition of transfer employed, the baseline level during training (i.e., start or end of training), and the dependent measure used to assess performance (e.g., initiation time or execution time).

February 17, 2012
-Kurt A. VanLehn
Arizona State UniversityProfessor of Computer Science and Engineering School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering.

February 24, 2012
Date unavailable


March 2, 2012
-Dan Roth, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Computer Science
Title: " Learning from Natural Instructions"

March 16, 2012
-Julia Evans, Ph.D.
San Diego State University, Director of Child Language & Cognitive Processes Lab
Title: "The impact implicit learning and development of conceptual knowledge in children with Specific Language Impairment"

It has recently been suggested that SLI is a domain general deficit in implicit learning. Ullman and colleagues have argued that the implicit learning impairments in SLI are restricted to procedural learning impairments and that these procedural learning deficits impact the acquisition and use of bound morphology and syntax; leaving the acquisition and use of the mental lexicon largely intact in children with SLI. In this talk I will present behavioral, EEG, and aMEG data from our lab that suggests that implicit learning deficits in SLI may extend beyond procedural learning to include other aspects of implicit learning as well; and show how these implicit learning deficits result in a qualitatively different developmental trajectory of the acquisition and use of lexical conceptual knowledge for children with SLI as compared to typically developing children. 

March 23, 2012
-Jordan Boyd-Graber, Ph.D. 
University of Maryland iSchool and Institute for Advanced Computer Studies
Title: " Title: Making Topic Models more Human(e)"

March 26-30, 2012 
-Spring Break


April 6, 2012
-Nikolaus J. Correll, Ph.D. 
University of Colorado, Department of Computer Science

April 13, 2012
-Gregory Berns, MD, Ph. D.
Emory University, Professor of Neuroeconomics, Director of the Center for Neuropolicy
Title: "Neuroimaging of Brain-Culture Interactions"

I will present the results of two studies that examine the effects of society and culture on individual brain regions associated with decision making. 1) Sacred values, such as those associated with religious or ethnic identity, underlie many important individual and group decisions in life, and individuals typically resist attempts to trade-off their sacred values in exchange for material benefits. We utilized an experimental paradigm that used integrity as a proxy for sacredness and which paid real money to induce individuals to sell their personal values. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we found that values that people refused to sell (sacred values) were associated with increased activity in the left temporoparietal junction and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, regions previously associated with semantic rule retrieval. This suggests that sacred values affect behavior through the retrieval and processing of deontic rules and not through a utilitarian evaluation of costs and benefits. 2) Finally, we use neuroimaging to predict cultural popularity - something that is popular in the broadest sense and appeals to a large number of individuals. We used fMRI to measure the brain responses of a relatively small group of adolescents while listening to songs of largely unknown artists. As a measure of popularity, the sales of these songs were totaled for the three years following scanning, and brain responses were then correlated with these "future" earnings. Although subjective likability of the songs was not predictive of sales, activity within the ventral striatum was significantly correlated with the number of units sold. These results suggest that the neural responses to goods are not only predictive of purchase decisions for those individuals actually scanned, but such responses generalize to the population at large and may be used to predict cultural popularity. 

April 20, 2012

April 27, 2012
-Andrew McCallum, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor, Computer Science Department
Title: "Structured Topic Models for Natural Language and Social Network Analysis" 


May 4, 2012
-ICS Fiesta and Poster Session

May 5-10, 2012 
-Final Exams

May 11, 2012