Cognitive,Linguistic and Psychological Sciences

Integrating the Study of Mind, Brain, Behavior and Language

We are delighted to announce the formation of the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences (CLPS) as of July 2010. CLPS is dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of mind, brain, behavior, and language.

As part of the University's ongoing Plan for Academic Enrichment, CLPS has been formed from the former faculties of the Department of Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences and the Department of Psychology, as well as several new hires. CLPS is housed in a newly renovated 36,000 sq ft building.

Which variables influence control over learning and action? How do we make decisions and learn from experience? How do people decide to blame others for their behavior? Searching for memory. A stroke leads to resolution of foreign accent syndrome. Using electrophysiology & optogenetics to probe memory. How do we select an appropriate action, given our goals? How do we integrate higher-order cognitive processes & actions? New software automatically identifies behaviors of laboratory mice. How does the brain develop & change in response to cues? Using an immersive virtual environment to test perception & action.

Upcoming Events

  • LingLangLunch Download LingLangLunch to my desktop calendar

    October 22, 2014 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Friedman Family Lecture in Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences. Speaker: Masako Fidler, Brown University. Title: Mining reader receptions of text with keyword analysis. Abstract: "Keyness” is a property attributed to words extracted from statistical tests (e.g., chi-square and log-likelihood tests), which contrast word frequencies in the target text (Ttxt) against the background of the word frequencies in a larger corpus (the reference corpus, RefC) (Scott 1996, Baker and Ellece 2011). Words with keyness (keywords, KWs) are said to point to what the text is about (“aboutness”), and/or the structural characteristics of the text (Bondi 2010), although what exactly constitutes “aboutness” is still under debate. It is also noted in existing literature that KWs differ when different reference corpora are used as the background. This presentation will show one application of such keyword analysis (KWA). It attempts to demonstrate that KWA can be sensitive to political shifts in a society/region to varying degrees when RefCs from two distinct historical periods are used to extract data. KWA, then, can point not only to genre-specific properties of a text, but also to what readers, whose usage patterns are reflected in the reference corpus, consider prominent or surprising in a text. KWA can help us motivate different reader receptions of a text. http://brown.edu/Departments/CLPS/events Metcalf Research Laboratory, Room 305 Dept: CLPS, Lectures, Conferences, and Meetings, Departments, Lectures
  • Social Cognitive Brown Bag Seminar Series Download Social Cognitive Brown Bag Seminar Series to my desktop calendar

    October 24, 2014 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Friedman Family Lecture in Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences. Speaker: Jennifer Prewitt-Freilino, RISD Title: Conveying and Reproducing Gender Hierarchies through Language. Abstract: Despite sensationalized media reports that claim women may soon be surpassing men in terms of wealth, power, and status, data from around the world demonstrate a clear and persistent gap between men and women. Clearly, many factors contribute to this gap and there are divergent theories that attempt to explain how differences in men and women emerge and persist. This presentation will focus on the relationship between gender inequality and language, highlighting the potential of language to shape gender hierarchies. I will present research in which I examined at the relationship between the grammatical gender of dominant languages used within a country and indices of gender equality, demonstrating that countries with gendered languages demonstrate lower levels of gender equality. I will also present some of my more recent work on the use of first person pronouns as a gendered marker of status. Discussion will focus on how subtle, seemingly mundane aspects of language may ultimately shape notions of power and status. http://www.brown.edu/Departments/CLPS/events Metcalf Research Laboratory, Room 305 Dept: CLPS, Brain Science Program, Biology and Medicine, Lectures, Conferences, and Meetings, Departments, Lectures
  • Cognitive Science Seminar Series Download Cognitive Science Seminar Series to my desktop calendar

    October 24, 2014 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM Friedman Family Lecture in Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences. Speaker: Jeff Semla, Brown University. Title: Feedback and vigilance affect speed-accuracy tradeoffs in decision making. Abstract: Many simple decisions allow us to trade off between speed and accuracy, such that one can spend longer making a decision in order to be more accurate. Though factors such as feedback and sustained attention are thought to improve performance in a variety of tasks, it is not always clear what cognitive mechanisms are driving these performance gains: a change in underlying ability, or a change in speed-accuracy tradeoff policy. Feedback and block length were manipulated in a perceptual decision-making experiment. The data were modeled using the Drift Diffusion Model in order to discern how these factors affected task performance. Feedback led to higher accuracy and shorter response times, driven by transient improvements in ability (drift rate) but stable improvements in one's speed-accuracy tradeoff policy (decision threshold). Shorter block lengths led to shorter response times but did not affect accuracy, a result of transient changes in one's ability and speed-accuracy tradeoff policy. Moreover, feedback and shorter block lengths facilitated adoption of a more optimal speed-accuracy tradeoff according to a normative theory of reward rate maximization. http://brown.edu/Departments/CLPS/events Metcalf Research Laboratory, Room 305 Dept: CLPS, Lectures, Conferences, and Meetings, Departments, Lectures
  • LingLangLunch Download LingLangLunch to my desktop calendar

    October 29, 2014 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Friedman Family Lecture in Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences. Speaker: Sophia Malamud, Brandeis University. Title: Utterance modifiers and the emergence of illocutionary force. Abstract: Recent years have seen much research addressing expressions whose contribution to meaning seems to modify the illocutionary force of an utterance, rather than its truth-conditions. These expressions range from clause-type morphology (e.g. Portner 2007, Starr 2010), to utterance-level adverbial modifiers (Potts 2005; Scheffler 2008, among others), to discourse connectives (e.g. Blakemore 2002; Webber 2004), to evidentials (e.g., Murray 2009, 2014). This research has shown that the tools of formal semantics are useful in modelling grammatical constraints on illocutionary force. It has also shown that illocutionary force modifiers can provide insight into a number of questions that arise at the semantics-pragmatics interface: Which aspects of illocutionary force arise compositionally from the grammatical meaning of the utterance and the modifier, and which aspects are computed through general reasoning based on speakers’ assumptions about rationality? Do context and rationality serve simply to resolve underspecified or ambiguous grammatical representations, or do they provide additional meaning above and beyond the literal and direct? Is (in)directness a categorical distinction, or is it a gradient – and if the latter, how can this be modelled? What are the universals and what is the cross-linguistic variation in the way illocutionary force is conveyed? I explore these questions using Mandarin particle ba, as well as English tag questions and rising intonation; time permitting, I will suggest a follow-up study using English please and its Russian translational equivalentpo┼żalujsta. The Mandarin particle ba occurs with a variety of speech acts and clause types, typically declarative and imperative, but in rare cases interrogative as well. The English reverse-polarity tags (John is here, isn’t he?) occur with declarative utterances, as does rising intonation (John is here↑) which also occurs in other types of utterances (Congratulations↑). English please and its Russian translational equivalent po┼żalujsta are canonically used in imperative requests, but occur in other clause types (Can you help me, please?) and other speech acts (Can I sit?—Please do.). I build on my prior work (Ettinger and Malamud 2013, Malamud and Stephenson 2014, inter alia) to offer a model of conversation where a unified semantics of clause types (cf. Starr 2010) constrains the range of interpretations for an utterance. A pragmatic conversational scoreboard tracks speakers’ public commitments to propositions, issues, and actions/preferences (cf. Farkas & Roelofsen forthcoming). These commitments constitute a target for collaborative updates; conversational moves may fall short of this target. Moves that fall short place their at-issue content on different parts of the Table, depending on the degree of authority the speaker and the hearer exercise over this content. Mandarin ba signals a lower degree of speaker authority, and potentially higher degree of hearer authority than would otherwise be expected for assertions and requests; pragmatic reasoning then derives the various effects of the utterance modifier. http://brown.edu/Departments/CLPS/events Metcalf Research Laboratory, Room 305 Dept: CLPS, Lectures, Conferences, and Meetings, Departments, Lectures
  • Daniel McAdams, Northwestern University Download Daniel McAdams, Northwestern University to my desktop calendar

    October 29, 2014 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM Michael S. Goodman '74 Memorial Lecture Series. Speaker: Daniel McAdams, Northwestern University. Title: The Redemptive Self: How Generative Adults Narrate Their Lives. Abstract: Generativity is an adult's concern for and commitment to promoting the well-being of future generations. Past research has shown that adults who score high on self-report measures of generativity tend to be positively and meaningfully engaged in their families, communities, and societal institutions. But generativity is hard work, involving thankless tasks and long-term commitments to uncertain ends. Accordingly, many highly generative adults construct and draw upon an especially powerful story for their lives to support their generative commitments -- a story I call the redemptive self. The story describes how a gifted protagonist journeys forth into a dangerous world, equipped with moral steadfastness and overcoming adversity on the way to leaving a positive legacy of the self for future generations. I will describe empirical research that links this kind of redemptive life narrative to generative lives, and I will examine cultural variations on the redemptive self that appear in narratives of atonement, recovery, personal emancipation, and upward social mobility. The findings suggest that shaping one's life into a redemptive form may bring with it the benefits of strong societal engagement and enhanced well-being for American adults, even as the story hints at certain cultural shortcomings and limitations. Department of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences, Friedman Auditorium, 190 Thayer Street. Metcalf Research Laboratory, Room 101, Friedman Auditorium Colloquia, Open to the Public, Dept: CLPS, First Years, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, For Masters candidates only, For PhD candidates only, Audience, Brain Science Program, Biology and Medicine, Lectures, Conferences, and Meetings, Faculty, Staff, Postdocs, Departments
  • LingLangLunch Download LingLangLunch to my desktop calendar

    November 5, 2014 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Friedman Family Lecture in Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences. Speaker: Chigusa Kurumada, University of Rochester. Title: TBA http://brown.edu/Departments/CLPS/events Metcalf Research Laboratory, Room 305 Dept: CLPS, Lectures, Conferences, and Meetings, Departments, Lectures
  • CANCELLED - Richard Davidson, University of Wisconsin-Madison Download CANCELLED - Richard Davidson, University of Wisconsin-Madison to my desktop calendar

    November 5, 2014 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM - CANCELLED - Metcalf Research Laboratory, Room 101, Friedman Auditorium Colloquia, Open to the Public, Dept: CLPS, First Years, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, For Masters candidates only, For PhD candidates only, Audience, Brain Science Program, Biology and Medicine, Lectures, Conferences, and Meetings, Faculty, Staff, Postdocs, Departments