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Liad Mudrik

Empirically studying seemingly non-empirical questions: A plea for a neuroscientific-philosophical approach (Monday, 1.30pm)

For centuries, questions about the nature of consciousness or the existence of free will were considered outside the realm of scientific investigation. Yet in recent decades, studies in neuroscience and cognitive science have taken a stab at these questions, giving rise to new empirical findings and novel theories. In this talk, I will describe three attempts to translate these long-lasting philosophical questions into empirically testable ones, regarding the role of consciousness in voluntary action, the relations between conscious experience and neural activity, and the possible dissociation between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness. I will further highlight some of the challenges entailed in such works, and suggest that our understanding of these highly complex and intricate phenomena can substantially benefit from a multidisciplinary dialogue, tying together experimentalists and philosophers.

Click here to read more about Liad Mudrik and her research.

Candice Morey

Something to talk about: Why is verbal information so much more resistant to distraction than visual information? (Tuesday, 1.30pm)

All information is not equal in memory. Immediate memory for novel visual information is very restricted. What little we do retain from a scene is disrupted by a variety of things, even stimuli quite different from the imagery we are attempting to remember. In contrast, verbal information is quite robust. Currently, models of working memory do not adequately capture this disparity. I will argue that this asymmetry is best explained by how precisely preparation of a response maps onto the information remembered. Speech preserves verbal details with high fidelity, whereas the responses used to indicate memory for visual imagery communicate comparatively little. Speech could therefore be seen as a ”hack” that can be deployed to enhance our very limited, general immediate memory capacity when words are what we need to remember. I will consider how this should influence working memory theory and its application.

Click here to read more about Candice Morey and her research.

Eliot Hazeltine

Adding sensory consequences to actions can reduce switching and dual-task costs (Wednesday, 1.30pm)

Considerable evidence indicates that selecting a response entails anticipating its sensory consequences. If actions are represented partly by their anticipated consequences, then these consequences may provide a source of the interactions between responses produced closely together in time. I will discuss two widely studied forms of interactions between temporally proximal responses: task-switch costs and dual-task costs. In both cases, adding sensory consequences changes the pattern of costs even though the sensory consequences occur after the responses are produced. The change in the costs depends on relationships among the consequences and the stimuli and responses both within and between tasks. These findings show that changes in the consequences of responses affect their representations and challenge the viability of stimulus-response associations as the drivers of voluntary behavior.

Click here to read more about Eliot Hazeltine and his research.