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Symposia at the 2016 Annual Meeting
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SYMPOSIUM I: Model-based Cognitive Neuroscience

Organized by THOMAS J. PALMERI, Vanderbilt University and BRANDON M. TURNER, The Ohio State University.
Friday, November 18, 10:00 a.m. - 12:05 p.m.
Location: Grand Ballroom

Cognitive modeling has a rich history of formalizing and testing hypotheses about cognitive mechanisms within a mathematical and computational language, making exquisite predictions of how people perceive, learn, remember, and decide. Cognitive neuroscience aims to identify neural mechanisms associated with key aspects of cognition, using techniques like neurophysiology, electrophysiology, and structural and functional brain imaging. These two come together in a powerful new approach called model-based cognitive neuroscience, which can both inform model development and help interpret neural measures. Cognitive models decompose complex behavior into representations and processes and these latent model states are used to explain the modulation of brain states under different experimental conditions. Reciprocally, neural measures provide data that help constrain cognitive models and adjudicate between competing cognitive models that make similar predictions of behavior. This symposium highlights a number of successful approaches within the emerging field of model-based cognitive neuroscience.

Introduction to Model-based Cognitive Neuroscience.  THOMAS J. PALMERI, Vanderbilt University and BRANDON TURNER, The Ohio State University.
What is model-based cognitive neuroscience? A brief overview of the approach and of the symposium is provided.

Approaches to Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience: Bridging Levels of Understanding of Perceptual Decision Making. THOMAS J. PALMERI, Vanderbilt University.
Cognitive modeling and neuroscience have converged on well-known accumulation of evidence models (including the diffusion model, the linear ballistic accumulator model, race and counter models, and competing accumulator model) to explain the behavioral and neural dynamics of perceptual decision making. Building off a taxonomy of approaches to model-based cognitive neuroscience we recently outlined in a collaborative paper (Turner et al., in press), I will describe how we have use neural data to constrain cognitive models (such as accumulator models), how we use cognitive models to predict neural data, and how we connect abstract cognitive models with mechanisms taking places at the level of individual neurons and ensembles of neurons.

Joint Models of Neural and Behavioral Data. BRANDON TURNER, The Ohio State University.
The need to test a growing number of theories in cognitive science has led to increased interest in inferential methods that integrate multiple data modalities. We present a flexible Bayesian framework for combining neural and cognitive models. Joining neuroimaging and computational modeling in a single hierarchical framework allows the neural data to influence the parameters of the cognitive model and allows behavioral data, even in the absence of neural data, to constrain the neural model.  Critically, our Bayesian approach reveals interactions between behavioral and neural parameters, and hence between neural activity and cognitive mechanisms. In this talk, we demonstrate the utility of our approach with applications to data fusion -- the integration of EEG, fMRI, and behavioral data -- and extensions to sparse representations of high dimensional data. We demonstrate that in both a generative and predictive sense, models that consider neural data perform better than those that do not.

Decision Threshold Dynamics in the Human Subcortex Measured with Ultra-high Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  BIRTE U. FORSTMANN, University of Amsterdam.
Deciding between multiple courses of action often entails an increasing need to do something as time passes - a sense of urgency. This notion of urgency is not incorporated in standard theories of speeded decision-making that assume information is accumulated until a critical fixed threshold is reached. In two experiments, we investigated the behavioral and neural evidence for an ‘urgency signal’ in humans. Experiment 1 found that as the duration of the decision-making process increased, participants made a choice based on less evidence for the selected option. Experiment 2 replicated this finding, and additionally found that variability in this effect across participants covaried with activation in striatum. These results are extended by using ultra-high resolution 7Telsa magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to zoom in the spatio-temporal dynamics of the urgency signal in the striatum. We conclude that the striatum plays a more general role in the decision-making process than previously reported.

Combining Space and Time in the Mind.  JOHN R. ANDERSON, Carnegie Mellon University.
Many cognitive modeling efforts are concerned with when cognitive events occur in time and many cognitive neuroscience efforts are concerned with where things are happening in the brain. We have combined hidden semi-Markov models (HSMM) and multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) to merge the information from both sources. I will describe how we have used HSMM-MVPA to both discover and test models of cognitive processes.

Tracking the Neural Dynamics of Conceptual Knowledge During Category Learning with Computational Model-based Neuroimaging. MICHAEL L. MACK, University of Texas, Austin.
Learning requires updating our knowledge to incorporate goal-relevant information. Computational models provide a formal account of how attention guides this process, with item representations shifting to reflect diagnostic features over learning. Neurally, such updating is hypothesized to rely on hippocampal memory processes; however, a direct link between memory mechanisms and attention-weighted representation has not been shown. Here, we combine computational modeling with fMRI to investigate the neural mechanisms of learning-based shifts in category representation. Participants performed two classification tasks that required different attentional strategies. We used a computational learning model, SUSTAIN, to quantify each participant’s attention-weighted knowledge representations. We found that neural representations in left anterior hippocampus correspond with model predictions of conceptual knowledge. Our method uniquely advances current cognitive neuroscience approaches to link neural measures and cognitive models. Leveraging model predictions of latent knowledge organization to constrain neuroimaging analysis enabled us to index the neural codes underlying concept formation.

The Neurocognitive Dynamics of Memory Search. SEAN M. POLYN, Vanderbilt University.
In the free-recall task, participants study a series of items, and are then asked to recall the items in whatever order they come to mind. The analysis of the identity, order, and latency of the remembered items provides fertile ground for the development of computational models of the cognitive processes engaged during memory search. These models describe a dynamic system in which executive processes construct and deploy a retrieval cue to probe memory structures in order to reactivate the details of recent past experience. These dynamic cognitive models provide a natural framework to characterize the functional properties of neural signals recorded during both study and recall periods.  I will describe recent and ongoing work using the neurocognitive memory search (NCMS) modeling framework to specify models that link univariate and multivariate neural signals to specific cognitive processes and representations in the model. These models provide evidence for neural processes related to recall initiation, the temporal and semantic organization of memories, and the termination of search.

SYMPOSIUM II: Motivated Memory: Considering the Functional Role of Memory

Organized by CHRISTOPHER R. MADAN, Boston College.
Friday, November 18, 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Grand Ballroom

Memory does not serve as a veridical recording of prior experiences that can be played back, instead many factors can lead some experiences to be more memorable than others. This leads to an important consideration: What is the functional role of memory? From this perspective, some experiences are more valuable in informing future behavior and should be selectively prioritized, such as those that evoke reward- or emotion-related processes. Here we broadly consider these processes as effects of motivational salience on memory. To capture the breadth of this topic, research highlighted in this symposium spans a variety of research approaches, including fMRI, cognitive aging, sleep-related consolidation, and cross-cultural differences.

Reward Motivation Facilitates Hippocampal-Dependent Encoding and Consolidation.  VISHNU P. MURTY, University of Pittsburgh.
Motivation has been shown to facilitate episodic memory. Animal models suggest that these memory enhancements emerge through interactions of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and hippocampus both during and after encoding. I will present two fMRI studies detailing mechanisms guiding reward-motivated memory enhancements. In Study 1, I will show that rewarding contexts facilitate VTA hippocampal interactions resulting in enhanced hippocampal responses to salient, un-rewarded, events. Further, I will show that enhanced hippocampal responses is paralleled with increased memory for those salient events. In study 2, I will show that post-encoding changes in network connectivity of the VTA and hippocampus predict better long-term memory for reward-associated events. Critically, post-encoding VTA-hippocampal interactions specifically targeted sensory cortex that was associated with reward during encoding. These findings support a model by which VTA-hippocampal interactions enhance episodic memory for rewarding events by (1) enriching encoding and (2) selectively stabilizing reward memory following encoding.

Mechanisms of Motivational Modulation of Attention in Younger and Older Adults.  JULIA SPANIOL, Ryerson University.
Motivational signals bias attention across the lifespan. Significant evidence suggests that aging is associated with an attentional positivity effect, but the mechanisms underlying this age-related shift are still poorly understood. In the present study, we examined the link between phasic arousal, linked to noradrenergic neuromodulation, and the impact of gain and loss motivation on attention. Younger adults (aged 18–34 years) and older adults (60–82 years) completed the Attention Network Test (ANT; Fan et al., 2002), modified to include gain and loss incentives. The behavioral alerting index served as a marker of phasic arousal efficiency. For younger adults, this marker correlated positively with the effect of both gain and loss incentives on ANT performance. In contrast, for older adults, the correlation held for gain incentives only, suggesting an age-related reduction in phasic arousal to loss signals. We discuss this finding in the context of Adaptive Gain Theory (Aston-Jones, 1994).

Preferential Consolidation of Emotional Components of Memory During a Nap is Preserved with Age. SARA E. ALGERS, University of Notre Dame.
Emotionally salient information is better remembered at the expense of less relevant details. Sleep increases the magnitude of this memory trade-off, preferentially preserving emotional components in young adults. Although both memory and sleep decline with age, little is known about whether their functional relationship changes. The current study compared changes in memory for negative and neutral components of scenes across a retention period containing an immediate or delayed nap versus wake. All subjects (18-64yrs) demonstrated the emotional memory trade-off effect. Interestingly, covarying for age, immediately napping led to the greatest increase in negative memory trade-off compared to both wake and delayed napping, indicating that sleep facilitated preferential consolidation of emotional components. There was a positive correlation between slow-wave sleep and negative object memory across all nap subjects, providing strong evidence that even as we age, sleep preserves salient information over less important details, despite general declines in memory and sleep.

Motivational Salience and Association-Memory: Positive Affect is Not Like the Others. CHRISTOPHER R. MADAN, Boston College.
Memory in daily life is not simply for occurrence of isolated information, but also for associations between different pieces of information. By using tasks such as paired-associate learning and cued recall to disentangle effects of item- and association-memory, previous research has demonstrated that negative affect, rewards, and motor-related information can all enhance memory for items, while simultaneously impairing memory for associations. Here we examined the influence of positive affect on item- and association-memory and found an enhancement of both memory for items and associations, relative to emotionally neutral information. This benefit of positive affect on association-memory was consistently demonstrated, revealing a different pattern than with equally arousing negative affect. These results provide strong evidence that positive information is processed differently than negative, and also differently than other types of motivationally salient information, such as rewarding or motor-related information.

Culture Motivates What is Remembered Accurately and Erroneously. ANGELA GUTCHESS, 

Brandeis University.
Although individual differences in cognition have long been recognized, it is only recently that the influence of cultural background has begun to be investigated as a potential source of individual differences in cognition. Culture can be thought of as a lens that shapes what information an individual is motivated to attend to and encode into memory, as well as a filter for the strategies and retrieval biases that can operate on that information. Thus, measures of memory can serve as assays of what is valued and prioritized by a culture. The talk will include data illustrating that cultures can differ in their accurate memory for specific perceptual details and in the engagement of neural regions supporting memory. In addition, the talk will establish that cultural groups can differ in their tendency to commit memory errors based on the content of information, and consider the impact of aging on cultural differences.

SYMPOSIUM III: Language by Mouth and by Hand

Organized by IRIS BERENT, Northeastern University and SUSAN GOLDIN-MEADOW,

University of Chicago.
Saturday, November 19, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
Location: Grand Ballroom

What principles determine the architecture of the language system: is language structure fully embodied in its sensorimotor bodily channel, or are some aspects of the language system amodal and abstract?  This symposium addresses this question by examining the effect of the manual modality on the structure of sign language, its lexical storage, neural implementation, and interaction with nonlinguistic systems (the conceptual system and spatial cognition). The discussion is informed by a broad range of cases, ranging from the mature native systems of monolingual and bimodal bilinguals signers to the spontaneous emergence of manual language in nascent sign languages and even in non-signers. We seek to identify putative abstract, amodal constraints on language design and processing and contrast them with those that are modality-dependent, and possibly iconic and analog. In so doing, we hope to shed light on how human bodies and brains give rise to language.

One Language System, Two Modalities: Evidence from the Double Identity of Doubling. IRIS BERENT, Northeastern University.
Are phonological patterns determined by sensorimotor constraints, or are some aspects of phonology amodal and abstract? To address this question, we explore the putatively universal restrictions on doubling. Across languages, doubling (e.g., baba, or generally, XX) gives rise to two alternative percepts. Viewed as a meaningless phonological pattern (e.g., baba), doubling is systematically disliked, due to a well-documented ban on phonological identity. But once doubling is assigned a morphological function (e.g., ba=ball, baba=little ball), doubling is parsed as reduplicative ({X}c, with a single X element), and its dislike shifts into a reliable preference. Here we extend this work to show that English speakers without sign language experience spontaneously apply these principles to novel signs in American Sign Language. Since the stimulus that elicits these conflicting responses remains unchanged, this shift is inexplicable by sensorimotor constraints. These results suggest the existence of abstract linguistic principles that apply broadly, across language modality.

Signs, Emerging Signs, and Words: Exploring the (In)Variance of Lexical Processing and the Lexicon. NAOMI CASELLI, Boston University.
A core component of cognitive scientific theorizing is to determine for a given domain which properties are relatively invariant--that arise in generally the same way across contexts--and which properties vary systematically as a function of the input. In this talk we consider the fact that emerging sign languages, mature sign languages, and spoken languages differ along many dimensions and ask whether these differences lead to differences in the structure of the language and how it is processed. Taking American Sign Language as a reference we examine (in comparison with CTSL, an emerging sign language) whether a sign language’s phonological inventory varies with age and overall iconicity and (in comparison with English) whether the organization of the lexicon varies as a function of modality. We also examine whether differences in the size of the lexicon and mode of production (sequential vs simultaneous) leads to cross-modal differences in perception and production.

Modality and Language Architecture: Syntax of Sign/Speech Code-blending. DIANNE LILLO-MARTIN, University of Connecticut.
Bimodal bilinguals use both a sign language and a spoken language. Like other bilinguals, they engage in various types of language mixing, but they have an option that is unique to users of a language in the visual modality: code-blending, the simultaneous production of (parts of) an utterance in both speech and sign. Importantly, the contribution of speech and sign reflects a single proposition. I argue that they also combine into one syntactic derivation, which can be overtly expressed using two different grammatical processes only in limited ways, despite the apparent separation of hands and mouth. The constraints that permit some but not other structural combinations in code-blending are a reflection of both linguistic universals and the particular contributions of language in the visual mode. Our understanding of the architecture for language is profoundly affected by considering the nature of bimodal bilingual code-blending.

Changes in Iconic Representation in the Emerging Lexicon of Nicaraguan Sign Language. ANN SEGHAS, Barnard College, Columbia University.
Manual gestures can reflect physical characteristics of referents, as when an object’s size is depicted by the distance between the hands. Does the prevalence of such iconicity in sign languages result from its usefulness during language creation, or because it is leveraged during learning? An emerging sign language provides an opportunity to detect the difference. Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL) was created by sequential age cohorts of deaf children in special education programs in the 1970s and 1980s in Managua. We elicited signs for everyday concepts (e.g., bird, corn); the majority of signs exhibited handling or object iconicity. As signs were passed down from the first cohort to a second cohort, iconicity decreased overall; likelihood and degree depended partly on type of iconicity. The changes point to the different roles of adults and children, and the different mechanisms applied when lexical items are coined, as opposed to when they are maintained and perpetuated.

Iconicity, Space, and Conceptual Representation in ASL-English Bilinguals. JENNIE PYERS, Wellesley College.
In sign languages, many signs derive their phonological form from the meaning of the referent.  One domain with robust iconicity of this kind is in space.  Spatial signs depict salient features of the relation: the phonological form of the ASL sign ON represents a hand on another hand. We suggest that the iconic form of the sign is strongly tied to the conceptual representation. We take as our test case the ASL signs FRONT and BACK, and show that their iconic form invites a different viewpoint interpretation than is offered by the English words front and back.  We show that Deaf native ASL signers interpret FRONT as English speakers interpret back.  Further, this encoding of spatial viewpoint is so strong that hearing native ASL-English bilinguals reliably interpret the English words front and back with respect to their ASL meanings. The iconic form-meaning mappings in ASL have cross-language semantic effects for bilinguals.

The Impact of Distinct Sensory-Motor Systems on the Neurobiology of Language: Signed vs. Spoken Languages. KAREN EMMOREY, San Diego State University.
Signed languages differ dramatically from spoken languages with respect to linguistic articulators and perceptual systems required for comprehension. The study of sign languages allows us to distinguish neurobiological principles that are universal to human language from those that are modulated by the specific sensory-motor systems within which language is instantiated. Neuroimaging results indicate an invariant bilateral perisylvian language system for the comprehension of both sign and speech and for production, both engage left inferior frontal cortex. Distinct sensory-motor systems impact the neural underpinnings of spatial language (greater involvement of right parietal cortices), monitoring of linguistic output (distinct roles for visual vs. auditory feedback), and phonological implementation (distinct roles for inferior and superior parietal cortex). Language modality clearly shapes the neurobiology of human language but does not alter the core perisylvian language system.

SYMPOSIUM IV: The Evolutionary and Psychological Significance of Play

From the Psychonomic Society’s Leading Edge Workshop initiative.

In honor of Stanley J. Kuczaj, II
Saturday, November 19, 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Grand Ballroom

Organized by LANCE J. MILLER, Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield
Zoo and ALEX DE VOOGT, American Museum of Natural History.
This symposium will highlight the results of the 2016 Psychonomic Society Leading Edge Workshop on the evolutionary and psychological significance of play. The workshop brought together 16 scientists from the fields of animal behavior, animal welfare, anthropology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology and psychology to define play and its significance.

Introduction. LANCE MILLER, Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo.
Similar to other areas of science such as language, defining a complex behavior such as play is quite challenging. Given the diversity of types of play including but not limited to pretend play, rough and tumble play, board games, locomoter and social play, it may not be possible to have one definition that extends across all types. However, a process has been proposed to help guide the field of play research forward to help better understand the function of this complex behavior. Sixteen experts in the field of play identified criteria that help to define the many of the components of play. These criterion will not map onto all forms of play but will help define the similarities and differences that exist. Moving the field forward, controlled experiments with sound science as well as comparative analysis will be critical to understand play and its psychological and evolutionary significance.

To Play is to Play: Examining Play Across Taxa. HEATHER HILL, St. Mary's University.
Play is notoriously difficult to define but “easy” to see. Whether a raven, a dolphin, a crocodile, a horse, a cow, a pig, or a primate, play shares many of the same characteristics including age of play, categories of play, signals used, and rules followed. Despite these similarities, tremendous variation exists in frequency, degree of complexity, and proposed functions. Is play an opportunity to test physical skills, to grow stronger, to increase cognitive flexibility, to navigate various social tasks, such as getting along with others and establishing bonds with others, to alleviate boredom, to train for the unexpected, or simply a byproduct of excess energy and/or time? To better understand the consequences of play, we must first identify the elements of play using cross-species, developmental, and experimental approaches.

Play: movement, neuroscience, communication and welfare. SERGIO PELLIS, University of Lethbridge, Canada.
There is a network of interconnected properties that make play, play. The particular interconnections that make one form of play similar to another form of play remain to be determined. For instance, the neurobiology of social play has been mapped out in some species. But what elements of this neural circuitry are similarly engaged in locomotor play? Irrespective of the degree of overlap, there are functional implications. For social play, while the neural circuits needed to produce play are subcortical, the experience of play in the juvenile period influences the development of cortical regulatory circuits. The subtle communication needed to sustain social play, may be critical to such feedback. Both locomotor and social play can sometimes be useful markers of wellbeing. However, there can be a dark side. Play can sometimes be used to torment peers and the short-term gain in wellbeing can lead to long-term detrimental effects.

Cultural Transmission, Cognitive Transfer and Emotional Coping in Play. ALEX DE VOOGT, American Museum of Natural History, New York.
Board games have been instrumental in studies of cognition and in particular in our understanding of expertise. They are found across cultural and geographic boundaries as well as across time periods. The cognitive skills relevant to expertise in playing board games have been studied for chess and a few games outside the Western world. Recent research shows that the cognitive skills in these games do not transfer to other cognitive domains. Rather, expertise in games is game-specific. In contrast games and, more generally, play do have a role in understanding human interaction. They serve as social lubricants from resolving conflict between cultures to facilitating coping mechanisms in children. In these contexts play ranges from pretend play to rule-based board and card games. These insights suggest that play and games do not define culture but help to navigate cultural and emotional challenges; and, that they do not transfer cognitive skills but transmit as specific game practices across time and space.

Pretend Play in Early Childhood. ANGELINE LILLARD, University of Virginia.
Pretend play, the paradigmatic case of play early childhood, involves mapping an imagined situation onto a real one. Key questions are how children negotiate the pretend-real boundary, and whether pretending changes children’s development in any way. Imaginary companions are devised by children and are inserted into real contexts, perhaps to enlarge social circles or handle difficulties. Other pretend play can involve altering both context and content. How do toddlers know a context is pretend, thereby not confuse pretend with real? Studies reveal that parents change their behaviors in ways that cue toddlers; this social cuing might sensitize children to attend to social information and undergird theory of mind. Cross-cultural research has confirmed these cues and their import. Further study of cross-cultural and non-paradigmatic cases of childhood play will further our understanding of play’s psychological and evolutionary significance.


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