SPRING 2013 Series
April 3, 2013 (LC 108, 4:00 pm)
Incidence, Essence, and Developmental Systems: Biologos in Action
Susan Oyama (John Jay College, CUNY)
Biologos, the “language of language” (information, transcription, translation, etc.) that dominates contemporary gene-talk, is problematic in several ways. Among other things, it supports covert forms of preformationism and essentialism, even though both are supposed to have been banished from biology. By implying that the DNA contains representations of the organism, Biologos works against attempts to deal effectively with nature-nurture contrasts, as well as ongoing attempts to synthesize development with evolution. I argue that the concept of the developmental system offers a fruitful alternative to this complex of deeply traditional habits of thought.
The video of the talk is available here.
March 14, 2013 (LC 108, 4:30 pm)
Perceiving objects by feeling them: Understanding dynamic touch
Alen Hajnal (University of Southern Mississippi)
Haptic perception is the ability to perceive properties of objects through touch and movement. Stephen and Hajnal (2011) have shown that haptic skills gained in one effector, such as the arm, transfer to other effectors, such as the leg. I ask whether haptic perception of length transfers from rigid rods to compliant ropes. Fractal analyses of three-dimensional hand motion recordings revealed an intricate picture of exploration styles that contribute to the prediction of trial-by-trial changes in perceived length.
February 28, 2013 (LC 104, 4:00 pm)
How did I pick up that accent? Phonetic convergence in spoken communication
Jennifer Pardo (Montclair State University)
Acoustic and phonetic variability within and between talkers does not arise by chance. Instead, such variation is attributable to a variety of causes including talker physiology, dialect, affect, and social/situational factors. Among the important social functions that speech serves are marking a talker’s identity, signaling their orientation to an interactive situation, and indexing the situational roles of interacting talkers. Studies of conversational interaction demonstrate the influence of such functions on many aspects of spoken communication. In particular, talkers sometimes become more similar over the course of a conversational interaction. The degree of inter-talker phonetic convergence has been found to be influenced by social factors such as talker role and sex. This talk provides an overview of the current state of research on phonetic convergence.
SPRING 2012 Series
April 27, 2012 (CSB Auditorium, 4:00 pm)
Tales of Instinctive Behavior and Experiential Co-dependency
David B. Miller (University of Connecticut)
In recent decades, the emerging field known as “evo-devo” (as in “evolution-development) has generated exciting research on the importance developmental influences on evolution, and vice versa. The interrelationship between evolution and development necessitates a better understanding of underlying developmental mechanisms. I shall discuss views of development from a historical perspective and how earlier views have “evolved” into what some refer to as the transactional view of development, a way of thinking about development that captures the inherent complexity of emergent developmental systems. Part and parcel of this view is the role of nonobvious (or nonlinear) experiential influences on the development of instinctive behavior. I’ll present examples of how such subtle influences greatly influence behavior and then illustrate this further with my own research on alarm call responsivity of mallard ducklings, which not only portrays nonlinear experiential influences but also multiple pathways toward a common developmental outcome.
The video of the talk is available here.
March 5, 2012 (LC 108, 3:00 pm)
The Fallacies of the Five Senses
Michael Gordon (William Paterson University)
More than 2000 years ago, Aristotle proposed the, now, traditional divisions between the five senses. While these divisions have been perpetuated in modern culture, numerous behavioral and physiological studies would seem to challenge the validity of such a model. Several alternative theories have since been suggested, including divisions based on differences in the types of media detected, the sensory organs, neurophysiological pathways and structures, and phenomenology. Evidence from developmental, neurophysiological, and multimodal behavioral studies is evaluated against these theories to clarify their sufficiency. In conclusion it is proposed that there are ecological constraints on perception and action that have guided what we perceive as the natural sensory divisions, suggesting that sensory divisions are derived from the environments in which we evolved.