Upcoming Lectures & Events

The Unbelieving Play flier

Cognitive and Brain Science Lectures*

Date Speaker Title
October 1st Brian Dias Understanding and breaking legacies of stress
October 22nd Nora Newcombe Affordances and Representations: Understanding Mental Rotation, Perspective Taking and Spatial Reorientation
November 5th Brenden Lake Word meanings in minds and machines
December 3rd Fumiko Hoeft Provisional title: Nature, nurture, and dyslexia
*This schedule is for Fall 2021: Certain Fridays, 1:30-2:30pm, unless otherwise noted. These events are now virtual. Please check back in September for the Fall 2022 schedule
Past Lectures & Events
Dan Dennett, April 9th, 2018, 3-4pm, Cohen Auditorium

Director, Center for Cognitive Studies

“User-Illusions, color, and the myth of 'direct acquaintance'”


How wrong could you be about your own conscious experience? As cognitive science explains the “magic” of vision (for instance) it is becoming clear that many “obvious” facts about color and our experience of it are illusions. How is that possible? The answer lies in setting aside Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” and replacing it with the Hard Question: “And then what happens?” How does the brain put the information gathered by the senses to use in modulating our thinking, our emotions, our actions, our memories?

The Promise of Predictive Processing: A Critical Evaluation of Its Prospects, April 6-8, 2018

Concert and Reception to Celebrate Ray Jackendoff!

Please join us for a concert and reception to celebrate Ray Jackendoff's retirement, March 10th, 2017, 7pm, Granoff Music Center.

Center for Cognitive Studies lectures, March 17th and March 31st, hosted by Dan Dennett

Krys Dolega, Center for Cognitive Studies Visiting Fellow, will give a lecture: "Predictive Processing and the Illusory Richness of Experience," March 17th, 3:30pm, Miner 225

Enoch Lambert, Center for Cognitive Studies Postdoc, will give a lecture: "Transformative-ish Phenomena," March 31st, 3:30pm, Miner 225

ABSTRACT: Transformative change is on the minds of many philosophers and psychologists, thanks to work by L. A. Paul. But what is it, exactly? I raise some challenges to Paul's categories for making sense of psychological transformation and consider implications for its scientific and philosophical study.

CBS lecture, hosted by Dan Dennett, April 3rd

Dave Ackley, Associate Professor, Dept. of Computer Science, Univ. of New Mexico (Tufts alum), Title: "Artificial Life in Postdeterministic Computing," Cohen Auditorium, 3-4pm.

ABSTRACT: Traditional computing machines must provide total predictability or else halt unconditionally. With such 'hardware determinism' guaranteed, software is constructed with no internal error-checking or redundancy, producing impressive behavior quickly, but also systemic fragility, brittleness, and unsecurability. Biological 'hardware', by contrast, offers no such guarantee, leading to computational architectures and 'software' strategies that emphasize robustness and distributed agency rather than efficiency and centralized authority. We are developing the Movable Feast Machine, an indefinitely scalable computer architecture that abandons hardware determinism and accepts merely best-effort performance from hardware and software both. We demonstrate simple software designed for best-effort conditions, employing lifelike strategies such as growth, healing, opportunistic reproduction, and collaborative action. In addition to presenting routes towards vast growth in computational scale and robustness, postdeterministic digital design offers expanded computing concepts with potential applications in cognitive science, organizational and social action theory, and computational thinking.

BIO: Dave Ackley is an associate professor of Computer Science at the University of New Mexico, with degrees from Tufts (A79) and Carnegie Mellon. Always connecting life and computation, over four decades he has contributed to areas ranging from neural networks and machine learning, to evolutionary algorithms and artificial life, to biological approaches to computer security and architecture.

Click here for a list of CBS (Cognitive and Brain Science) talks for Spring 2017
Past Lectures & Events

Cognitive Science colloquium (CBS--Cognitive and Brain Science) lecture, “Morphological schemas: Theoretical and psycholinguistic issues”

Our own Ray Jackendoff is the speaker!

Monday, November 7th, 2016, 3pm, Cohen Auditorium

Evidence from both linguistic theory and psycholinguistics argues the lexicon contains many composite items, stored as such with their internal structure. Moreover, one of the tenets of the Parallel Architecture (Jackendoff 2002) is that there is no divide between lexicon and grammar: “rules of grammar” are stored in the lexicon in the form of schemas that contain variables. Hence the traditional overarching focus on how rules construct novel utterances must give way to a shared focus, in which the relationships among lexical items are equally if not more important. Schemas come in two types. A nonproductive schema captures regularities among its listed instances, but it resists extension to new instances. A productive schema also captures regularities among listed instances, but in addition can be used freely to create new utterances online; it is this function that corresponds most closely to traditional rules. An important question arises, however: Does the theory (or the brain) need nonproductive schemas? Or can the subregularities encoded in nonproductive schemas be captured by simpler associative principles, as advocated both by the connectionists and by Pinker? I will suggest reasons why nonproductive schemas might be helpful in acquisition, in organizing storage, and in lexical access.

Ray Jackendoff at MIT, March 3rd, 2016: Title: "Morphology in the Mental Lexicon." Place: MIT, 32D-461 (Stata Center). Time: Thursday 3/3, 12:30-1:50

Dennett talk at MIT, March 3, 2016 (click on this link for more info)

New Ideas Symposium

New Ideas Symposium, March 4, 2016, hosted by Dan Dennett and featuring five of his favorite thinkers

"The mystery of iconic gesture – a great challenge for the cognitive sciences," Jan de Ruiter will give a guest lecture in Prof. Dennett’s Foundations of Cognitive Science seminar, on September 15th at 7:30pm in Miner 112. All are welcome. *Important Note: There's a chance we will change the room to another location (Barnum 104).

Our own Rabia Ergin, Ph.D. student, will give a talk at TEDx Tufts on April 17th, in Barnum 008 at 8pm

Workshop: Emerging Sign Languages and the Big Picture - May 8th and 9th, 2015