Fall 2019 - Spring 2020 

The Cognitive Science Program @ Cornell Colloquia Series

August 30, 2019

Jenny Saffran, UW, Madison

Acquiring and Predicting Structure Via Statistical Learning


Infant learners are sensitive to myriad statistical patterns in their environment. These regularities facilitate the acquisition of a range of representations and structures. They also facilitate the generation of expectations and predictions about the world. In this talk, I will describe a diverse array of infant studies, primarily focused on language, that examine the role of prior learning in the generation of expectations in downstream processing. Implications for atypical development will also be considered


October 25, 2019

Gary Lupyan, UW, Madison

(joint with the psychology department)

What Are We Learning from Language?


Like other animals, humans learn from interacting with the natural world. Uniquely, humans also learn from language — a source of information that is grounded in, but quite distinct from the natural world. What might we be learning from language, and how is the information embedded in language different from what is embedded in nonlinguistic experiences? I will present a range of evidence from behavioral experiments and neural network models that show how language impacts human performance on a variety of "nonverbal" tasks, from low-level perception to higher-level reasoning. Taken together, the results suggest that some of the unique aspects of human cognition may stem from our exposure to language and from the way verbal labels transform mental representations into more categorical states. These findings have relevance for understanding the cognitive consequences of language impairments and for questions concerning linguistic relativity.

November 15, 2019


The Child as an Active Learner


The child as an active learner has been an enduring theme in the study of developmental psychology.  Yet what we mean by "an active learner" has been unclear.  Here we investigate two senses of an active learner: (1) Can young children generate their own systematic data to advance their own learning? And can formal models help us understand the data generation process? (2) Do curiosity and interest facilitate learning in young children? 

         I will present results from several studies using different methods to address these questions. Understanding the nature of active, self-directed learning may be an important step in developing a rational constructivist theory of cognitive development.

April 24, 2020

Hakwan Lau, UCLA*


the Cognitive Science Film Series 

Returns Spring 2020!



All colloquia are held in 202 Uris Hall

and begin at 12:20pm.



*Titles & abstracts TBA.






















Cognitive Science Program
Cornell University
278a Uris Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853

©2019 Cognitive Science Program