Integrating the Study of Mind, Brain, Behavior, and Language

Housed in a completely renovated 36,000 sq. ft. building, our aim is to represent a leading center for the multidisciplinary study of mind, brain, behavior, and language - including such phenomena as perception, thinking, learning, memory, attention, action, personality, speech, language processing, and linguistic structure. The department examines the functional organization of these capacities, the representational and computational processes that underlie them, their neural bases, their development across the lifespan, and how they shape individual and social behavior. (See more...)

 

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

Upcoming Events

  • Ali Arslan PhD Defense Download Ali Arslan PhD Defense to my desktop calendar

    September 2, 2015 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Structural Representations in Action Recognition Metcalf Research Building, Room 101, Friedman Auditorium Open to the Public, Dept: CLPS, Audience, Departments
  • Boaz Keysar, University of Chicago Download Boaz Keysar, University of Chicago to my desktop calendar

    September 9, 2015 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM Richard B. Millward Colloquium: "Living in a Foreign Tongue" Abstract: Hundreds of millions of people live and work while using a language that is not their native tongue. Given that using a foreign language is more difficult than using a native tongue, one would expect an overall deleterious effect on their mental and physical performance. We have discovered that the opposite is often true. We argue that a foreign language provides psychological and emotional distance, thereby allowing people to be less biased in their decision-making, more willing to take smart risks and to be guided more by hope than by fear of loss. We show that a foreign language also affects ethical behavior such as cheating and moral choice. But we also find that when emotions are crucial for learning from experience, native tongue is crucial for improving choice over time. Living and functioning in a foreign tongue, then, has surprising consequences for how individuals think, feel and operate, and it has important implications for social policy, negotiation, diplomacy and immigration issues. http://www.brown.edu/Departments/CLPS/events Metcalf Research Building, 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
  • Edward Gibson, MIT Download Edward Gibson, MIT to my desktop calendar

    September 16, 2015 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM Michael S. Goodman '74 Memorial Lecture Series: "Information Theoretic Approaches to Language Universals" Abstract: Finding explanations for the observed variation in human languages is the primary goal of linguistics, and promises to shed light on the nature of human cognition. One particularly attractive set of explanations is functional in nature, holding that language universals are grounded in the known properties of human information processing. The idea is that grammars of languages have evolved so that language users can communicate using sentences that are relatively easy to produce and comprehend. In this talk, I summarize results from explorations into several linguistic domains, from an information-processing point of view. First, we show that all the world’s languages that we can currently analyze minimize syntactic dependency lengths to some degree, as would be expected under information processing considerations. Next, we consider communication-based origins of lexicons and grammars of human languages. Chomsky has famously argued that this is a flawed hypothesis, because of the existence of such phenomena as ambiguity. Contrary to Chomsky, we show that ambiguity out of context is not only not a problem for an information-theoretic approach to language, it is a feature. Furthermore, word lengths are optimized on average according to predictability in context, as would be expected under and information theoretic analysis. Then we show that language comprehension appears to function as a noisy channel process, in line with communication theory. Given si, the intended sentence, and sp, the perceived sentence we propose that people maximize P(si | sp ), which is equivalent to maximizing the product of the prior P(si) and the likely noise processes P(si → sp ). We discuss how thinking of language as communication in this way can explain aspects of the origin of word order, most notably that most human languages are SOV with case-marking, or SVO without case-marking. http://www.brown.edu/Departments/CLPS/events Metcalf Research Building, 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