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Welcome, First Years!

by Melissa Troyer


Welcome to the incoming first-year class of 2014, introduced here. (more)



Miller, L.E, Longo, M.R., Saygin, A.P. (2014). Tool morphology constrains the effects of tool use on body representations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. In press.
What factors constrain whether tool use modulates the user's body representations? To date, studies on representational plasticity following tool use have primarily focused on the act of using the tool. Here, we investigated whether the tool's morphology also serves to constrain plasticity. In 2 experiments, we varied whether the tool was morphologically similar to a target body part (Experiment 1, hand; Experiment 2, arm). Participants judged the tactile distance between pairs of points applied to their tool-using target body surface and forehead (control surface) before and after tool use. We applied touch in 2 orientations, allowing us to quantify how tool use modulates the representation's shape. Significant representational plasticity in hand shape (increase in width, decrease in length) was found when the tool was morphologically similar to a hand (Experiment 1A), but not when the tool was arm-shaped (Experiment 1B). Conversely, significant representational plasticity was found on the arm when the tool was arm-shaped (Experiment 2B), but not when hand-shaped (Experiment 2A). Taken together, our results indicate that morphological similarity between the tool and the effector constrains tool-induced representational plasticity. The embodiment of tools may thus depend on a match-to-template process between tool morphology and representation of the body.
Creel, S. C. (2014). Impossible to _gnore: Word-Form Inconsistency Slows Preschool Children’s Word-Learning. Language Learning and Development, 10(1), 68–95. doi:10.1080/15475441.2013.803871
Many studies have examined language acquisition under morphosyntactic or semantic inconsistency, but few have considered word-form inconsistency. Many young learners encounter word-form inconsistency due to accent variation in their communities. The current study asked how preschoolers recognize accent-variants of newly learned words. Can preschoolers generalize recognition based on partial match to the learned form? When learning in two accents simultaneously, do children ignore inconsistent elements, or encode two word forms (one per accent)? Three- to five-year-olds learned words in a novel-word learning paradigm but did not generalize to new accent-like pronunciations (Experiment 1) unless familiar-word recognition trials were interspersed (Experiments 3 and 4), which apparently generated a familiar-word-recognition pragmatic context. When exposure included two accent-variants per word, children were less accurate (Experiment 2) and slower to look to referents (Experiments 2, 5) relative to one-accent learning. Implications for language learning and accent processing over development are discussed.
Wang B., Mezlini A. M., Demir F., Fiume M., Tu Z., Brudno M., Haibe-Kains B., Goldenberg A. (2014). Similarity Network Fusion for Aggregating Data Types on a Genomic Scale. Nature Methods, Jan. 26.
recent technologies have made it cost-effective to collect diverse types of genome-wide data. computational methods are needed to combine these data to create a comprehensive view of a given disease or a biological process. similarity network fusion (snF) solves this problem by constructing networks of samples (e.g., patients) for each available data type and then efficiently fusing these into one network that represents the full spectrum of underlying data. For example, to create a comprehensive view of a disease given a cohort of patients, snF computes and fuses patient similarity networks obtained from each of their data types separately, taking advantage of the complementarity in the data. We used snF to combine mrnA expression, dnA methylation and micrornA (mirnA) expression data for five cancer data sets. snF substantially outperforms single data type analysis and established integrative approaches when identifying cancer subtypes and is effective for predicting survival.


Research Opportunities (199s)
  • Cognitive Processes
    “Raednig thees wrods semes to be esaeir tahn you mgiht hvae tohuhgt; waht colud epxlian tihs?” Could you read the sentence above? Having any trouble understanding or recognizing these words? How possible it could be to understand such a sentence, with/without recognize words? What could you explain your effortless ability ...
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  • Body Movements: Dots, Humans, Robots
    The perception and comprehension of others’ actions and body movements is ubiquitous and important. Our lab carries out a range of behavioral, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological experiments on how people perceive others' body movements. In many experiments, we use body movements depicted by point-lights (like this: http://sayginlab.org/bio-highkick.gif). We are also exploring ...
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  • Tools, Virtual Reality and Your Body
    In everyday life there is a boundary between our bodies and the external environment. Is this perceived boundary fixed or can it be altered? What happens to your body perception when you use a tool? What about when you immersed in virtual reality? The Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology Lab (http://www.sayginlab.org) ...
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  • Language Development and Remediation in Children
    We are evaluating two interventions for dyslexia that involve training the temporal dynamics of the visual system (magnocellular pathway) and the auditory system, and whether the two interventions together have super-additive effects. As a Research Assistant, you would be traveling to one or two of five participating local elementary schools ...
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  • Space, Time, and Gesture
    While it is clear that people around the world talk and think about time in terms of spatial concepts, many questions remain regarding the link between spatial and temporal concepts. The Embodied Cognition lab is interested in understanding cognition from the perspective of the embodied mind, investigating how the peculiarities ...
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Recent News & Links (see all)


UCSD Professor Uses Zombies To Teach About Neuroscience

KPBS article: There's no escaping zombies. They've infected every corner of pop culture and more recently have been shambling into academia. Professor Bradley Voytek combines the living dead and neuroscience in the new book, "Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?"


Founding Chair of Cognitive Science returns to UCSD

Don Norman, an engineer and psychologist famous for pushing companies to develop products that are easy to use, is setting up a design lab at UC San Diego, a campus he left decades ago to help shape the future of Apple Computer.


Coursera and UC San Diego Partner to Offer New Interaction Design Specialization

Learners in massive open online courses offered by Coursera can now enroll in 18 new Specializations – a targeted sequence of courses designed to build high-demand skills and subject matter expertise. One of the specializations  “Interaction Design”  is being led by University of California, San Diego Professor Scott Klemmer.


Brad Voytek and brainSCANr

BrainSCANr is designed to help neuroscientists choose research projects, a device by Bradley Voytek of the University of California, San Diego, and his wife Jessica.


UCSD Conference for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, & Humanities (CRASSH)

Are you an undergraduate interested in the Arts, Social Sciences, or Humanities?  Then consider presenting your research at the UCSD Undergraduate Conference for Research in the Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities (CRASSH) to be held on November 4 from 10am to 2pm at the UCSD Price Center.


Department Events (see all)

Patricia Churchland (CogSci Colloquium)

The Brains Behind Morality

Self-preservation is embodied in our brain’s circuitry: we seek food when hungry, warmth when cold, and mates when lusty. In the evolution of the mammalian brain, circuitry for regulating one’s own survival and well-being was modified. For sociality, the important result was that the ambit of me extends to include others -- me-and-mine. Offspring, mates, and kin came to be embraced in the sphere of me-ness; we nurture them, fight off threats to them, keep ...
(click for details)

Mon, Oct 27th, 12:00pm-1:00pm (CSB 003)
(4 days, 8 hours from now)


CRL talk

Tue, Oct 28th, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CSB 280)
(5 days, 12 hours from now)


Faculty Meeting

Wed, Oct 29th, 12:00pm-2:00pm (CSB 180)
(6 days, 8 hours from now)


Tanya Luhrmann (CogSci Colloquium)

Invisible others: How metacognitive practices make the unseen real

For a while now my work has settled on the way that people monitor and attend to their cognitive and affective experiences. The first part of my talk will describe my ethnographic
work with evangelical Christians who seek a personal, intimate relationship with God—one
in which God will talk back. My work suggests that these Christians use prayer practice to
monitor their mental experience and that they selectively ...
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Mon, Nov 3rd, 12:00pm-1:00pm (CSB 003)
(1 week, 4 days from now)


CRL talk

Tue, Nov 4th, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CSB 280)
(1 week, 5 days from now)


Campus-wide Events (see all)

Careers in Scientific Publishing Seminar

Careers in Scientific Publishing

It is now clear that the number of new PhDs vastly surpasses the availability of tenure-track faculty positions. Luckily, there are various alternatives for newly minted scientists looking for careers outside academia. For example, many journals employ professional editors to handle the evaluation and peer review of manuscripts. This talk will give you an overview of the ins and outs of scientific publishing.

Alexander Arguello, PhD
Associate Editor, Nature Neuroscience
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Thu, Oct 23rd, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CNCB Marilyn Farquhar Seminar Room (formerly Large Conference Room))
(12 hours, 55 minutes from now)


Michael C. Crair (Neurobiology talk)

Activity Dependent Neural Circuit Development Prior to Sensory Experience

In the brains of mammals, birds, and invertebrates, the sensory world is organized into regular neuronal arrays, or maps. Common examples are the map of body surface in the somatosensory cortex (the so called "homunculus") and the representation of oriented bars, or edges, in the visual cortex. Dr. Crair is interested in understanding how genes ('nature') and the environment ('nurture') interact to guide the development of neuronal maps. His ...
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Mon, Oct 27th, 12:00pm-1:00pm (Marilyn G. Farquhar Seminar Room, CNCB)
(4 days, 8 hours from now)