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Cognitive Science Talk at Bogaziçi: Emrah Aktunç (Ozyegin) “Productive theory-ladenness in functional neuroimaging” (07/05/2019)

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Emrah Aktunç (Ozyegin, Psychology)  will give a talk on Tuesday, May 7th, from 5.15-6.45pm in JF507.  Everyone is welcome.

“Productive theory-ladenness in functional neuroimaging”

Abstract: Several developments in different fields for diverse scientific goals had to take place to eventually give rise to functional neuroimaging as one of the central research paradigms of cognitive neuroscience. Functional MRI, the most commonly used neuroimaging technique, stands on solid foundations established by the physics of magnetic resonance and the physiology of hemodynamics and is complimented by computational and statistical techniques. I argue, and support using concrete examples, that these foundations give rise to a productive theory-ladenness, which enables researchers to identify and control for the types of methodological and inferential errors. Consequently, this makes it possible for researchers to represent and investigate cognitive phenomena in terms of hemodynamic data and for experimental knowledge to grow independently of large scale theories of cognition, the implications of which I will discuss in the context of cognitive ontologies.
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Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 5, 2019 at 8:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Workshop at Koç on the Philosophy of Aristotle’s Biology (10-11/05/2019)

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Aristotle's Biology (6)
CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS
The Philosophy Society and the Department of Philosophy at Koç University wish to invite all who are interested, and especially advanced undergraduate and graduate students, to participate in its upcoming Workshop on the Philosophy of Aristotle’s Biology. The workshop will be held on 10 and 11 May at the ANAMED Auditorium in Beyoğlu, İstanbul. For further details, as well as to register to receive updates, readings, and to reserve a place at the workshop, please visit https://aristotlesbiology.wordpress.com/. Registration and participation are free of charge.
The Philosophy of Aristotle’s Biology
Aristotle is most well known as a philosopher. But he was also a scientist, and above all a biologist. In recent decades, readers of Aristotle the philosopher have come increasingly to acknowledge the extent to which his most celebrated contributions, from his ethics to his metaphysics, are indebted to the work of Aristotle the biologist. The seminars in this workshop will explore crucial connections between the work of Aristotle the philosopher and Aristotle the biologist, in an effort to bring out, for students and specialists alike, the biology of Aristotle’s philosophy as well as the philosophy of Aristotle’s biology.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 14, 2019 at 9:38 pm

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Cog-Sci talk at Boğaziçi this Tuesday: Ibrahim Hakan Gürvit (Neurology, Istanbul University): “A Psychoanalytically-inspired Neuroscientific  Conception of (De-centralized) Consciousness.” (16/04/2019)

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This Tuesday (April 16th, 2019), starting at 5.15pm in JF507, we have our next cognitive science talk at Boğaziçi:

Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Hakan Gürvit (Neurology, Istanbul University):

“A Psychoanalytically-Inspired Neuroscientific  Conception of (De-centralized) Consciousness.”

Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 14, 2019 at 9:26 pm

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Cognitive Science talk at Boğaziçi: Fuat Balcı (Koç, Psychology): “As the Irish say “Speed and accuracy do not agree”: Brain, Time, and Errors” (09/04/2019)

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Fuat Balcı (Koç, Psychology) will be giving a talk at Boğaziçi this Tuesday (09/04/2019) in JF507, starting at 5.15pm:

“As the Irish say “Speed and accuracy do not agree”: Brain, Time, and Errors”

 

ABSTRACT: In this presentation, I will talk about the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlay the adaptive decision threshold modulation. I will demonstrate that apparently suboptimal biases in decision making might actually be adaptive responses to endogenous uncertainty in magnitude representations. I will then show that humans can monitor the direction and magnitude of errors in their temporal and numerical estimates (that originate from uncertainty in their magnitude representations) in the absence of feedback. I will argue that such “metric error monitoring” ability might serve as one of the sources of the adaptive-bias signaling in decision-making. After showing these behavioral and psychophysical interactions between subjective time and decision making, I will demonstrate their theoretical integration by arguing that both interval timing and decision making can be modeled based on the same generative processing dynamics. Finally, I will present the results of our recent neuromodulation studies that investigated the neural basis of controlled-modulation of decision-making and will offer a neurocognitive framework for conceptualizing the adaptive nature of decision-making.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 7, 2019 at 8:38 pm

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New MA program in Philosophy at Koç University (Istanbul), with Scholarships.

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Application details can be found here.
Koc university philosophy ma program Kopyası Kopyası (1).jpg

Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 6, 2019 at 12:08 pm

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Cognitive Science Talks at Boğaziçi, Spring 2019

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This semester our cognitive science talks will generally take place on Tuesdays from 5.15-6.45 in JF507. A draft schedule can be found below. Additional talks will be added.

Tuesday, March 5th
Marco Fenici (Bilkent, Philosophy): “The sociocultural nature of mindreading:  an empirical, theoretical, and meta-theoretical defence”.

Tuesday, March 19th
Funda Yıldırım (Yeditepe, Computer Engineering): “Neurofeedback and Cognitive States”

Tuesday, April 9th
Fuat Balcı (Koç, Psychology): “As the Irish say “Speed and accuracy do not agree”: Brain, Time, and Errors”

Tuesday, April 16th 
Ibrahim Hakan Gürvit (Neurology, Istanbul University): “A Psychoanalytically-Inspired Neuroscientific  Conception of (De-centralized) Consciousness.”

Tuesday, April 30th
Saffet Murat Tura (Psychiatrist): “”Nasıl Oluyor da Rüyalarımızı anlatabiliyoruz” (in Turkish)

Tuesday, May 7th
Emrah Aktunc (Özyeğin, Psychology): “Productive theory-ladenness in neuroimaging”

POSPONED Tuesday, May 14th POSTPONED
Pavel Logačev (Boğaziçi, Linguistics): “Sentence Processing.”

Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 4, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Cog-Sci Talk at Boğaziçi: Marco Fenici (Bilkent) on “The sociocultural nature of mindreading: an empirical, theoretical, and meta-theoretical defence” (05/03/2019)

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Marco Fenici (Bilkent) will give a talk on Tuesday, March 5th from 5.15-6.45 pm in JF 507. Everyone is welcome. The talk will be on:

 

“The sociocultural nature of mindreading:  

an empirical, theoretical, and meta-theoretical defence”

 

Abstract: Mindreading—sometimes also referred to as “Theory of Mind” (ToM)—is usually defined as the ability “to report our propositional attitudes [i.e., such states as belief, desire, hope, or fear], to attribute such attitudes to others, and to use such postulated or observed mental states in the prediction and explanation of behaviour” (Garfield, Peterson, & Perry, 2001). According to a widely shared view in philosophy and cognitive science, this ability is an intrinsic component of the human biological endowment, thus being specified by natural selection within particular neurocognitive structures because of its adaptive value (Cosmides & Tooby, 1992; Dunbar, 1998). Subscribing to such a view, many developmental psychologists argue that mindreading is innate, manifests in early infancy, and becomes more flexible and sophisticated due to its progressive integration with executive and linguistic abilities (Baillargeon et al. 2010; Helming et al. 2016; Westra and Carruthers 2017).

Against the received naturalist view, advocates of a socio-cultural account have recently claimed that mindreading essentially depends on the practice of talking about mental states to explain behaviour, and has emerged in the course of human cultural evolution as a linguistic construct without being already innately specified within the neurocognitive architecture of the brain (Fenici & Garofoli, 2017; Heyes & Frith, 2014; Hutto, 2008). Accordingly, they argue, mindreading is still transmitted through the mediation of cultural practices, and is acquired during childhood because of social and linguistic interaction. Children’s exposure to conversations discussing mental states does not merely fine-tune some previously existing conceptual understanding but provides them with a new tool to enter the community of minds (Nelson, 2005).

The naturalist and the socio-cultural view provide radically divergent theoretical interpretations of the same empirical data, and furthermore differ with respect to the empirical phenomena that are claimed to be relevant to understand the nature of mindreading. However, their contrast also originates from opposite metaphysical intuitions on the nature of belief. More precisely, while the philosophical background of the naturalist view is widely known to philosophers and cognitive scientists, the socio-cultural view appeals to a set of philosophical intuitions that are rarely unified in a coherent framework. In the talk, I will aim to organize such a framework to provide a solid theoretical foundation for the socio-cultural view, which shows how plausible it is.

The supporters of the naturalist view implicitly assume that beliefs—and, more generally, mental states—are causal/functional states individuated by their representational content and identical with, or supervening on the physical states of the brain (Fodor, 1987). Accordingly, they argue that (i) attributing a belief amounts to recognizing a representational state in the mind/brain of its possessor (Carruthers, 2011; Fodor, 1992; Goldman, 2006), and consequently that (ii) understanding the verbal ascription of a belief requires mapping the linguistic structure of propositional attitudes—i.e., those expressions stating a relation between a cognitive agent, a mental verb, and a that-clause—on one’s internal representation of the attributed belief. All of this requires presupposing (usually implicitly) that beliefs are intrinsically relational, and that their structure mirrors the relational structure of propositional attitudes.

On the contrary, I will claim that the proposed socio-cultural account is coherent with a much less metaphysically compromised view on the nature of belief. According to it, we cannot really say what mental states actually are, and in particular we cannot infer anything about the relational nature of belief from observing the relational nature of PAs (Wittgenstein, 1953). However, we can deduce the conceptual properties of belief from observing how we attribute them in language (Davidson, 1984; Dennett, 1987; Mölder, 2010). I will argue first that, even though we deny that beliefs are representational states in the mind/brain of cognitive agents, we can still ground metaphysically the practice of on talking about beliefs within a measurement theoretic account of propositional attitudes (Matthews, 2007; see also Churchland, 1979; Davidson, 1991, 1999; Dennett, 1987; Sellars, 1980).[1] Second, I will claim that such a slim nominalist view on the nature of belief suggests an original and promising explanation of (i) what is to understand the meaning of the verbal ascriptions of belief, and consequently of (ii) what is to acquire the capacity of mindreading.

As to the first point, I will show how, within measurement theoretic semantics, the meaning of an expression is defined by the relation between the class of the possible utterances of that expression and a properly related class of primitive properties and relations in the world (Dresner, 2010). This view fits the usage-based theory of language acquisition (Carpendale & Lewis, 2015; Montgomery, 2002; Tomasello, 2009), according to which knowing the meaning of an expression amounts to knowing how the expression is uttered within conversation (Sellars, 1974; Brandom, 1994). Applied to mental verbs, it implies that understanding the meaning of the verbal reports of belief amounts to mastering the practice of ascribing beliefs in conversation.

Importantly, the usage-based theory of language acquisition implies that mastering the functional meaning of an expression can drive, rather than follow the conceptual knowledge of a category (Vygotsky, 1978). If this is the case, it may then be possible that children familiarise progressively with the concept of belief while they learn to master the practice of ascribing mental states in conversation. Based on recent discussion, I will argue that the psychological lexicon has the function of supporting the coordination and regulation of social interaction rather than that of describing the inner mental causes of behaviour (Andrews, 2012; Hutto, 2008; McGeer, 2007; Zawidzki, 2013). It follows that acquiring mindreading capacities essentially amounts to acquiring the practice of reporting propositional attitudes in conversation in order to explain and normalize unsuccessful social interaction. In support of this conclusion, I will discuss empirical data showing that infants’ earliest socio-cognitive abilities do not indicate a capacity to attribute mental states (Fenici, 2015a, 2015b), that social and linguistic experience shapes older children’s capacity to identify mental states to predict behaviour (Fenici, 2017), and that mastering the functional meaning of mental verbs may drive children’s acquisition of the concept of belief—as attested by their acquired capacity to succeed in elicited-response false belief tasks (Fenici, subm.).

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 17, 2019 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized