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CBB talk series

The Cognitive Brown Bag (CBB) is a graduate student organized talk series, primarily attended by the faculty, graduate students, and staff from the cognitive labs at Dartmouth College. The talks are typically held on Thursdays from 12:15-1pm.


Winter 2019

February 21





Sarah Oh, Dartmouth College


This talk covers the development of an objective metric that measures perceived distances between auditory stimuli. This is done by expressing stimuli as points in a non-Euclidean/curved perceptual space and measuring distance in said space rather than in Euclidean stimulus space. Three methods are proposed for estimating the curvature of the perceptual space, inspired by biological mechanisms in early auditory processing and enhanced using machine learning techniques.

March 14


Jonathan Freeman, NYU

More than meets the eye: Split-second social perception

 Initial social perceptions are often thought to reflect direct read-outs of facial features. Our recent research suggests that they instead emerge from an automatic yet gradual process of negotiation between the perceptual cues inherent to a person (e.g., facial cues) and top-down social cognitive processes harbored within perceivers. Integrative evidence from multivariate fMRI, computational modeling, and the real-time behavioral technique of mouse-tracking will be discussed. This work shows that perceptions of a face's gender, race, emotion, and trait inferences (e.g., trustworthiness) are fundamentally shaped by context and one's own stereotypes, prior knowledge, and intergroup experiences. We find that these top-down impacts on initial perceptions are driven by the interplay of higher-order prefrontal regions involved in top-down predictions and lower-level fusiform regions involved in face processing. These dynamics have the potential to lead to systematic visual biases, which we show in certain cases may uniquely predict social consequences and real-world outcomes. Together, this work suggests that split-second social perceptions are malleable and shaped by context and higher-order social cognition. In turn, such malleability can create biases during initial perceptions that shape real-world behavior and may serve as a foundation for certain forms of bias.

March 21


Lucy Owen, Dartmouth College

Decrypting the neural code


How do our brains represent the internal and external world? To explore this fundamental question about the neural code, my ongoing work takes an “agnostic” approach by characterizing a set of key properties that describe brain activity patterns. I will focus on three of these properties in my talk: redundancy (i.e., how predictable activity patterns are across the brain, across people, and across tasks), complexity (i.e., what is the “dimensionality” of neural activity pattens, and does this change based on what we are doing?), and interactivity (i.e., how do our brain structures interact to support our ongoing thoughts?).



Last Updated: 3/11/19