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Topics in Cognitive Science

Judit Gervain, Irene de la Cruz-Pavía, LouAnn Gerken
Artificial grammar learning (AGL) paradigms have proven to be productive and useful to investigate how young infants break into the grammar of their native language(s). The question of when infants first show the ability to learn abstract grammatical rules has been central to theoretical debates about the innate vs. learned nature of grammar. The presence of this ability early in development, that is, before considerable experience with language, has been argued to provide evidence for a biologically endowed ability to acquire language...
December 15, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Edward Munnich, Michael A Ranney
One's level of surprise can be thought of as a metacognitive signal indicating how well one can explain new information. We discuss literature on how this signal can be used adaptively to build, and, when necessary, reorganize belief networks. We present challenges in the use of a surprise signal, such as hindsight bias and the tendency to equate difficulty with implausibility, and point to evidence suggesting that one can overcome these challenges through consideration of alternative outcomes-especially before receiving feedback on actual outcomes-and by calibrating task difficulty with one's knowledge level...
December 13, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Nils Dahlbäck, Mattias Forsblad, Lars-Christer Hydén
Reflecting on three papers included in this issue, we suggest that research on memory and conversation could benefit by making more use of analyzing real-life situations or close to real-life scenarios, full speech and body interactions, and the interaction with the physical environment. We also suggest that the process of remembering during conversation is investigated on a level of detail and sequence that allow for locating actual functions of different actions. Finally, we suggest that a life-span perspective on transactive memory systems must also model the development, maintenance, breakdown, and reestablishment of such systems...
December 12, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Barbara Landau
How do children learn the meanings of simple spatial prepositions like in and on? In this paper, I argue that children come to spatial term learning with an a priori conceptual distinction between core versus non-core concepts of containment and support, and that they learn how language maps onto this distinction by considering both the simple prepositions and the company they keep-that is, the distributions of their co-occurrences with particular verbs. Core types of containment and support are largely expressed by in/on together with the light verb BE; non-core types are expressed by lexical verbs such as insert, hang, stick, and so on, which represent the specific mechanical means by which containment or support is achieved...
November 26, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Federica Amici
Hope and Gabbert (2008) and Jay and colleagues (in press) show us that collaborative remembering, in certain contexts, may result in incomplete and less accurate memories. Here, I will discuss the evolutionary origins of this behavior, linking it to phenomena such as social contagion, conformity, and social learning, which are highly adaptive and widespread across non-human taxa.
November 20, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Noga Zaslavsky, Charles Kemp, Naftali Tishby, Terry Regier
Gibson et al. () argued that color naming is shaped by patterns of communicative need. In support of this claim, they showed that color naming systems across languages support more precise communication about warm colors than cool colors, and that the objects we talk about tend to be warm-colored rather than cool-colored. Here, we present new analyses that alter this picture. We show that greater communicative precision for warm than for cool colors, and greater communicative need, may both be explained by perceptual structure...
November 20, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Natalia Vélez, Hyowon Gweon
When our own knowledge is limited, we often turn to others for information. However, social learning does not guarantee accurate learning or better decisions: Other people's knowledge can be as limited as our own, and their advice is not always helpful. This study examines how human learners put two "imperfect" heads together to make utility-maximizing decisions. Participants played a card game where they chose to "stay" with a card of known value or "switch" to an unknown card, given an advisor's advice to stay or switch...
November 9, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Michelle S Peter, Caroline F Rowland
A long-standing question in child language research concerns how children achieve mature syntactic knowledge in the face of a complex linguistic environment. A widely accepted view is that this process involves extracting distributional regularities from the environment in a manner that is incidental and happens, for the most part, without the learner's awareness. In this way, the debate speaks to two associated but separate literatures in language acquisition: statistical learning and implicit learning. Both fields have explored this issue in some depth but, at present, neither the results from the infant studies used by the statistical learning literature nor the artificial grammar learning tasks studies from the implicit learning literature can be used to fully explain how children's syntax becomes adult-like...
November 9, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Zi L Sim, Fei Xu
Decades of developmental research have capitalized on the fact that infants are surprised (i.e., look longer) at some events but not others. Differences in looking time have been considered to be a reflection of perceptual discrimination, or a reaction toward witnessing a violation of prior expectations. Here, we provide an overview of a new perspective on infant surprise that examines the underlying cognitive processes that drive this response. We suggest that looking time may reflect sophisticated statistical inference, and we review empirical evidence and computational modeling results from several recent studies to support this conjecture (Kidd, Piantadosi, & Aslin, ; Piantadosi, Kidd, & Aslin, ; Sim, Griffiths, & Xu, ; Sim & Xu, ; Téglás et al...
November 8, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Christine A Caldwell
In humans, cultural evolutionary processes are capable of shaping our cognition, because the conceptual tools we learn from others enable mental feats which otherwise would be beyond our capabilities. This is possible because human culture supports the intergenerational accumulation of skills and knowledge, such that later generations can benefit from the experience and exploration efforts of their predecessors. However, it remains unclear how exactly human social transmission supports the accumulation of advantageous traits, and why we see little evidence of this in the natural behavior of other species...
October 30, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Meadhbh I Foster, Mark T Keane
Surprise has been explored as a cognitive-emotional phenomenon that impacts many aspects of mental life from creativity to learning to decision-making. In this paper, we specifically address the role of surprise in learning and memory. Although surprise has been cast as a basic emotion since Darwin's () The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, recently more emphasis has been placed on its cognitive aspects. One such view casts surprise as a process of "sense making" or "explanation finding": metacognitive explanation-based theory proposes that people's perception of surprise is a metacognitive assessment of the cognitive work done to explain a surprising outcome...
October 29, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Jennifer Lavoie, Victoria Talwar
Children begin to use methods of concealment to achieve interpersonal goals at an early age, and the ability to conceal information requires cognitive skills to be effective. Despite research on children's lie telling, there is little known about the "spectrum" of concealment methods that children use, which can range from full disclosures to active concealment through the use of deception. This study focused on children's use of concealment methods in a prosocial situation, in relation to their cognitive ability...
October 28, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Gaël Le Mens, Jerker Denrell, Balázs Kovács, Hülya Karaman
If people avoid alternatives they dislike, a negative evaluative bias emerges because errors of under-evaluation are unlikely to be corrected. Prior work that analyzed this mechanism has shown that when the social environment exposes people to avoided alternatives (i.e., it makes them resample them), then evaluations can become systematically more positive. In this paper, we clarify the conditions under which this happens. By analyzing a simple learning model, we show that whether additional exposures induced by the social environment lead to more positive or more negative evaluations depends on how prior evaluations and the social environment interact in driving resampling...
October 22, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Aimee E Stahl, Lisa Feigenson
Research on cognitive development has revealed that even the youngest minds detect and respond to events that adults find surprising. These surprise responses suggest that infants have a basic set of "core" expectations about the world that are shared with adults and other species. However, little work has asked what purpose these surprise responses serve. Here we discuss recent evidence that violations of core knowledge offer special opportunities for learning. Infants and young children make predictions about the world on the basis of their core knowledge of objects, quantities, and social entities...
October 15, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Olivier Morin, Piers Kelly, James Winters
We present a theoretical framework bearing on the evolution of written communication. We analyze writing as a special kind of graphic code. Like languages, graphic codes consist of stable, conventional mappings between symbols and meanings, but (unlike spoken or signed languages) their symbols consist of enduring images. This gives them the unique capacity to transmit information in one go across time and space. Yet this capacity usually remains quite unexploited, because most graphic codes are insufficiently informative...
October 10, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Marta Dynel
This paper aims to distil the essence of deception performed by means of withholding information, a topic hitherto largely neglected in the psychological, linguistic, and philosophical research on deception. First, the key conditions for deceptively withholding information are specified. Second, several notions related to deceptively withholding information are critically addressed with a view to teasing out the main forms of withholding information. Third, it is argued that deceptively withholding information can be conceptualized in pragmatic-philosophical terms as being based on the violation of Grice's first maxim of Quantity, which is conducive to covertly untruthful meaning, specifically hearer-inferred what is said that presents the violation of the first maxim of Quality...
September 30, 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Ulrike Hahn, Christoph Merdes, Momme von Sydow
This paper examines the basic question of how we can come to form accurate beliefs about the world when we do not fully know how good or bad our evidence is. Here, we show, using simulations with otherwise optimal agents, the cost of misjudging the quality of our evidence. We compare different strategies for correctly estimating that quality, such as outcome- and expectation-based updating. We also identify conditions under which misjudgment of evidence quality can nevertheless lead to accurate beliefs, as well as those conditions where no strategy will help...
October 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Wayne D Gray
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
October 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Jean-Pierre Chevrot, Katie Drager, Paul Foulkes
Sociolinguists study the interaction between language and society. Variationist sociolinguistics - the subfield of sociolinguistics which is the focus of this issue - uses empirical and quantitative methods to study the production and perception of linguistic variation. Linguistic variation refers to how speakers choose between linguistic forms that say the same thing in different ways, with the variants differing in their social meaning. For example, how frequently someone says fishin' or fishing depends on a number of factors, such as the speaker's regional and social background and the formality of the speech event...
October 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
Laurence Buson, Aurélie Nardy, Dominique Muller, Jean-Pierre Chevrot
Sociolinguistic studies generally focus on specific sociolinguistic variables. Consequently, they rarely examine whether different sociolinguistic variables have coherent orientation in a specific language variety (a social or a regional dialect) or whether the speakers freely mix sociolinguistic variants. While different attempts have been made to identify coherence and mixing in the production or perception of dialects, our aim is to answer this question at the level of the cognitive representation of varieties...
October 2018: Topics in Cognitive Science
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