Psych Seminar Series

Wednesday, November 08, 2023, 4:00 PM MST

Dynamic Minds: Methods and Models for Understanding Naturalistic Learning

Dr. Cameron Hassall
MacEwan University

The neural basis of learning is traditionally studied using simple tasks in highly controlled laboratory settings. This is a problem because the real world is complex and dynamic. One solution is to move towards ecologically valid experiments. To illustrate the benefits and challenges of this approach, I will discuss recent efforts to measure rapid learning signals in the brain using a technique borrowed from language researchers. The importance of these signals will be discussed in the context of realistic computational models of learning.

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Friday, March 24, 2023, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm MDT Hybrid

Psychological Needs, Self-Determination, and Engagement: A Humanistic Organismic Approach to Motivation Applied to (Ew!) Language Learning

Dr. Kim Noels
University of Alberta

Of all the subjects students study, it seems foreign languages are among the least enjoyed. Nonetheless, most Canadian students are required to have least some foreign language education for a variety of a reasons, not the least of which is the value placed on languages in a multicultural, officially bilingual society. Motivation is key to success in such a challenging learning context, and in this presentation I will review an enduring research program that examines language learning motivation through the lens of Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory.

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Friday, March 03, 2023, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm MST  Hybrid

Strength in small numbers

Dr. Jeremy Caplan
University of Alberta

Knowledge about an item such as a word is vast (high-dimensional). But doesn't it seem likely that people only think of a handful of those features during an episodic memory experiment? I will show that this feature "subsetting" idea can add a lot of functionality and explain empirical phenomena because it presumes the functional representation is small (tractable by the participant) but still benefits from knowledge being high-dimensional knowledge. We assume the participant attends to a subset of features in an item-specific way (HUMMINGBIRD: fast-moving wings, hovering; PENGUIN: tuxedo-look, waddling on ice).

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Friday, February 10, 2023, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM MST Hybrid

The control of volitional choice by cognitive processes and reflexive systems in healthy and psychopathological brains

Dr. Aaron Gruber
University of Lethbridge

Choices in humans and rodents are influenced by cognitive processes, such as the formation and use of task-specific schemas. These can sometimes conflict and compete with other choice mechanisms in the brain, such as win-stay and lose-shift responding. The first part of the talk focuses on these ‘non-cognitive’ processes. I will present data that win-stay and lose-shift mechanisms depend on dissociated neural systems in the brains of rodents and humans. The lose-shift is integrated with the motor system, and appears to be a reflexive reaction to reward omission.

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