Centre for Language Evolution
School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
University of Edinburgh
Weaving an ambiguous lexicon
One striking observation is that the set of words in a given language is highly ambiguous and confusable. Words may have multiple senses (e.g., homonymy, polysemy) and are represented by an arrangement of a finite set of sounds that potentially increase their confusability (e.g., minimal pairs). Lexicon bearing such properties present a problem for children learning their language who seem to have difficulty learning similar sounding words and resist learning words having multiple meanings. Using lexical models and experimental methods in toddlers and adults, I present quantitative evidence that lexicons are, indeed, more confusable than what would be expected by chance alone. I then present empirical evidence suggesting that toddlers have the tools to bypass these problems given that ambiguous or confusable words are constrained to appear in distinct context. Finally, I submit that the study of ambiguous words reveal factors that were currently missing from current accounts of word learning.
Taken together this research suggests that ambiguous and confusable words, while present in the language, may be restricted in their distribution in the lexicon and that these restrictions reflect (in part) how children learn languages.
Director of Research - CNRS - University of Bordeaux
The Evaluation of Psychotherapy Efﬁcacy in France: History of the INSERM Report
Before 2004, no government in France had ever evaluated the efﬁcacy of psychotherapy (unless one considers the evaluation ordered by King Louis XVI over two centuries ago concerning Mesmer). However, the cost today of mental disorders can be counted in billions of euros per year and many of these syndromes are ranked among the top 20 most handicapping conditions according to the World Health Organization. Following the insistence of several national associations for the rights of patients in psychiatry in 2002, the French government solicited the expert center of INSERM to conduct a thorough evaluation of the efﬁcacy of three different forms of psychotherapy: psychodynamic or psychoanalytic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and family therapy. The results of this two-year investigation revealed that cognitive-behavioral therapy was far superior to psychoanalysis in terms of the number of disorders for which efﬁcacy had been demonstrated (with family therapy ranking between the two other forms). These results were immediately and vociferously contested by members of the psychoanalytic community, resulting in the removal of this report from the ofﬁcial website of the Ministry of Health. INSERM, however, refused to remove the report from their ofﬁcial website and defended its scientiﬁc validity and the rigor of its methods. This presentation will discuss the debate surrounding this report, the criteria used by INSERM for the evaluation of psychotherapy, and the implications of its results for the promotion of quality mental health care in France.
Clive D. L. Wynne, Ph.D., Pr.
Arizona State University
Dog Olfactory Learning and Cognition
Odor perception is one of the most complex forms of perceptual behavior. Although relatively under-developed in our own species, it is the most developed sense in canines, and therefore dogs are an excellent species in which to study basic processes of smell cognition and learning. In this talk I will review what is known about the capacity and limitations of dog olfactory learning. Dogs inherited their sensitive noses from their ancestors, wolves, which use their noses to find prey and communicate with each other. Trained detection dogs are called upon to locate contraband, explosives, missing people, and other things, in ways that are similar to how their ancestors hunted. Relatively little research has addressed how wolves and dogs use scent in communication, but both subspecies are observed scent marking, scent rubbing, and scent rolling. These behaviors likely play a role in social communication. Claims have been made that wild canids have more sensitive olfactory systems than dogs, but, although it is plausible that in the wild any lack of olfactory function would be selected against, direct evidence for differences between dogs and wild canids in olfaction is lacking. The training of olfactory detection dogs involves several different basic behavioral principles. Classical or Pavlovian conditioning is involved when trainers pair a scent with an attractive consequence, like the opportunity to chase a ball. In Pavlovian conditioning, the novelty of the to-be-conditioned stimulus is important, and I shall report experiments we have carried out on this topic. Operant conditioning comes into play when a trainer shapes a specific desired target response that serves as the dog’s indication that it has found the target odor. In operant conditioning, the question of how and when reinforcers are delivered becomes of paramount importance. Context is very important too, and it is very difficult to maintain the desired target behavior in dogs that seldom detect targets—as must be the case for explosives detection dogs working outside war zones. The behavioral and biological principles involved in the nose of the dog are well-established in common laboratory species like rats, but, notwithstanding how important detection dogs are to human safety, much less research has directly engaged with our canine “best friends.”
Université de Genève
Titre et abstract à venir
Cette expérience montre d’une part que le maître agit comme un attracteur pour le chien, comme c’est le cas de la mère pour son bébé. Mais surtout, elle indique un processus commun entre les canidés et les humains, et qui est à l’œuvre entre eux : la synchronisation comportementale du chien sur l’humain, en l’occurrence son maitre, avec l’affiliation existante entre cette paire d’individus.
People with low vision, especially those with Central Field Loss (CFL), need magnification to read. The flexibility of Electronic Vision Enhancement Systems (EVES) offers several ways of magnifying text. Due to the restricted field of view of EVES, the need for magnification is conflicting with the need to navigate through text (panning). We have developed and implemented a real-time gaze-controlled system whose goal is to optimize the possibility of magnifying a portion of text while maintaining global viewing of the other portions of the text (condition 1).
Les hominidés ne sont pas les seuls à posséder une asymétrie gauche-droite dans la zone du cerveau que l'on pensait cruciale pour le langage. Selon une étude publiée dans Cerebral Cortex menée par des chercheurs du Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive de Marseille (CNRS, Université d'Aix-Marseille), les babouins présentent eux aussi cette asymétrie. Un résultat qui remet en cause l'idée selon laquelle cette spécificité anatomique serait caractéristique du langage.
Les babouins produisent des vocalisations comparables aux voyelles. C’est ce qu’ont mis en évidence des chercheurs du Gipsa-Lab (CNRS/Grenoble INP/Université de Grenoble Alpes), du Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive (CNRS/AMU) et du Laboratoire d’anatomie de l’Université de Montpellier grâce à des analyses acoustiques de vocalisations, couplées à une étude anatomique des muscles de la langue et à une modélisation des potentialités acoustiques du conduit vocal des singes.
La dégénérescence maculaire liée à l'âge représente une population de plus d’un million de patients en France. Ces patients se plaignent majoritairement d’une difficulté à reconnaître correctement les mots qui composent un texte. Pour tenter d’améliorer les capacités de lecture de ces patients, trois membre de l’équipe "Perception et Attention" (J.-B. Bernard, C. Aguilar, E. Castet E.) ont développé EIDO, une nouvelle police de caractère spécialement destinée aux patients malvoyants
Pascal Huguet et Isabelle Régner pilotent actuellement, dans 70 collèges et lycées, une alternative au traditionnel système de notation : l’évaluation par compétences. Si les premiers résultats sont prometteurs, l’expérience est bien loin d’être finie.
En moyenne, les garçons obtiennent de bien moins bons résultats aux tests de lecture que les filles. Mais la différence disparaît quand on leur fait croire qu’il s’agit d’un jeu.