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Welcome, First Years!

by Melissa Troyer

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

Creel, S. C. (2014). Tipping the scales: Auditory cue weighting changes over development. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40(3), 1146–1160. doi:10.1037/a0036057
How does auditory processing change over development? This study assessed preschoolers’ and adults’ sensitivity to pitch contour, pitch height, and timbre in an association-memory paradigm, with both explicit (overt recognition) and implicit measures (visual fixations to melody-linked objects). In the first 2 experiments, child and adult participants associated each of 2 melodies with a cartoon picture, and recognition was tested. Experiment 1 pitted pitch contour cues against pitch height cues, and Experiment 2 pitted contour cues against timbre cues. Although adults were sensitive to multiple cues, children responded predominantly based on pitch height and timbre, with little sensitivity to pitch contour. In Experiment 3, however, children detected changes to all 3 cues well above chance levels. Results overall suggest that contour differences, although readily perceptible, are less memorable to children than to adults. Gradual perceptual learning over development may increase the memorability of pitch contour.
Borovsky, A., & Creel, S. C. (2014). Children and adults integrate talker and verb information in online processing. Developmental Psychology, 50(5), 1600–13. doi:10.1037/a0035591
Children seem able to efficiently interpret a variety of linguistic cues during speech comprehension, yet have difficulty interpreting sources of nonlinguistic and paralinguistic information that accompany speech. The current study asked whether (paralinguistic) voice-activated role knowledge is rapidly interpreted in coordination with a linguistic cue (a sentential action) during speech comprehension in an eye-tracked sentence comprehension task with children (ages 3–10 years) and college-aged adults. Participants were initially familiarized with 2 talkers who identified their respective roles (e.g., PRINCESS and PIRATE) before hearing a previously introduced talker name an action and object (“I want to hold the sword,” in the pirate’s voice). As the sentence was spoken, eye movements were recorded to 4 objects that varied in relationship to the sentential talker and action (target: SWORD, talker-related: SHIP, action-related: WAND, and unrelated: CARRIAGE). The task was to select the named image. Even young child listeners rapidly combined inferences about talker identity with the action, allowing them to fixate on the target before it was mentioned, although there were developmental and vocabulary differences on this task. Results suggest that children, like adults, store real-world knowledge of a talker’s role and actively use this information to interpret speech.
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.

Research Opportunities (199s)
  • 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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  • 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: We are also exploring ...
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  • 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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  • 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 ( ...
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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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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 ...
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Mon, Oct 27th, 12:00pm-1:00pm (CSB 003)
(5 days, 17 hours from now)

CRL talk

Tue, Oct 28th, 4:00pm-5:00pm (CSB 280)
(6 days, 21 hours from now)

Faculty Meeting

Wed, Oct 29th, 12:00pm-2:00pm (CSB 180)
(1 week 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, 5 days from now)

Campus-wide Events (see all)

Douglas Nitz (DNS-TDLC talk)


Nobel Prize-winning place cells of the hippocampus and grid cells of the medial entorhinal cortex are rightly celebrated as cornerstones of the brain’s global positioning system. Yet, the neural dynamics generated by these structures in collaboration with the posterior parietal cortex also provide a framework by which other, highly complex forms of cognition emerge. Together, these three brain regions play a critical role in generating and structuring episodic memory and in ...
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Wed, Oct 22nd, 3:00pm-4:00pm (Sanford Consortium / Duane J. Roth Auditorium - 2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr., La Jolla, California)
(20 hours, 25 minutes from now)

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))
(1 day, 21 hours from now)