The first CCR seminar of this academic year will be:
Mirror Neurons in the Tree of Life: development and evolution of a specific sensorimotor structure
Antonella Tramacere, Department of Neuroscience (Parma).
Date: Tuesday 6th October
Location: Psychology Rm 145
By comparing the properties of mirror neurons (MNs) in primate and non-primate species and by reviewing the recent literature that has been neglected in previous manuscripts (i.e. MNs in marmosets and in songbirds, as well as the neuroimaging and anatomical studies in chimpanzees), I will provide new interpretations of MNs, avoiding to polarize the debate on development versus evolution, or learning versus innateness. I will analyse different subtypes of MNs (i.e. hand MNs, mouth MNs, audio-vocal MNs, tool MNs), and the conditions (i.e. physiological and molecular mechanisms, as well as the ecological niches) that critically contribute to their evolution. The scenario that emerges is compatible with the hypothesis of a mosaic evolution. I will sustain that such an interpretation will enhance the heuristic potential to test new hypotheses and prediction on MNs activity and its plastic changes under specific circumstances.
CCR members may be interested in this forthcoming Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism talk:
Title: Mapping Mind and Language(s)
Time: Wednesday 7th October, 3pm
Mapping Mind and Language(s) In this paper I will present a processing-based ‘working model’ of the mind based on research findings across a range of disciplines within cognitive science. Both representational and processing accounts are incorporated within this model, or more properly, within this theoretical ‘framework’. One, admittedly ambitious aim of this framework is to provide a crossdisciplinary platform for integrating and explicating research findings in what are, in practice, often quite separate areas of language research. A platform like this arguably has not been available to researchers. Separate hypotheses and theories are typically developed and tested using terminology and techniques that facilitate empirical work in individual research areas but do little to promote a combined view of what they all mean for our understanding of the mind. After discussing the basic features of this framework, I will go on show how language cognition fits with cognition in general. This will include an account, within the terms of the framework, of how two or more languages are accommodated within the same mind. The presentation will finish with two sample implementations, the first one, an explanation of how languages are sometimes kept distinct and sometimes mixed in multilingual performance. The second implementation will be an account of how basic varieties and heritage languages can be explained. The presentation will be based on my book Mapping mind and language (in prep., Cambridge University Press) and on Sharwood Smith & Truscott’s The Multilingual Mind: a modular processing perspective (2014), Cambridge University Press. More information on this approach can be obtained from http://www.mogulframework.com