News & Events
Oct2512:00pmMetcalf Research Building
Michael S. Goodman ’74 Memorial Seminar Series. Speaker: Dian Yu, MIT. Title: Modeling peripheral vision – Rethinking grouping (and more) in the periphery. Abstract: Peripheral vision is vulnerable in face of clutter – a phenomenon commonly referred to as crowding. Crowding is important both because of its ubiquity, making it relevant for many real-world tasks and stimuli, and because of the window it provides onto mechanisms of visual processing. One challenge for theories of crowding is that the negative effects of clutter depend greatly on the stimulus, for instance whether the target to be identified groups with flanking elements. A straightforward yet powerful high-dimensional pooling model (Texture Tiling Model, TTM) for peripheral vision has been successful at capturing crowding and predicting performance for tasks such as visual search and object recognition in clutter. Here, we show how TTM allows us to rethink grouping effects in crowding, namely how crowded targets are easier to identify when it is dissimilar to their flankers. Beyond this example, I will discuss how TTM has the potential to provide simple and elegant explanations for many more crowding effects, and can be used to visualize and quantify the impact of peripheral vision on a wide range of visual processing.
Oct314:00pmMetcalf Research Building
Michael S. Goodman ’74 Memorial Colloquium. Speaker: Susan Goldin-Meadow, University of Chicago. Title: What small data can tell us about the resilience of language that big data can’t. Abstract: Children learn the languages to which they are exposed. Understanding how they accomplish this feat requires that we not only know as much as we can about the linguistic input they receive, but also about the architecture of the minds that process this input. But because linguistic input has such a massive, and immediate, effect on the language children acquire, it is difficult to determine whether children come to language learning with biases and, if so, what those biases are — and getting more and more data about linguistic input won’t solve the problem. Examining children who are not able to make use of the linguistic input that surrounds them does, however, allow us to discover the biases that children bring to language learning. The properties of language that such children develop are not only central to human language, but also provide hints about the kind of mind that is driven to structure communication in this way. In this talk, I describe congenitally deaf individuals who cannot learn the spoken language that surrounds them and have not been exposed to sign language by their hearing families. Individuals in these circumstances use their hands to communicate––they gesture––and those gestures, called homesigns, take on many, but not all, of the forms and functions of languages that have been handed down from generation to generation. I first describe properties of language that are found in homesign. I next consider properties not found in homesign and I explore conditions that could lead to their development, first, in a naturally occurring situation of language emergence (Nicaraguan Sign Language) and, then, in an experimentally induced situation of language emergence (silent gesturers asked to communicate using only their hands). My goal is to shed light on the type of cognitive system that can not only pick up regularities in the input but, if necessary, also create a communication system that shares many properties with established languages.