A week till #psynom16

The annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society will go under way in roughly a week. The Society is looking forward to seeing you in Boston. The program has been available for some time, and there is also a mobile app.

The Society is urging everyone who is planning to attend to register online rather than onsite.

There are a few events that deserve to be highlighted:


Keynote speaker

The keynote address this year will be given by Roberta Klatzky from Carnegie Mellon University.

Roberta is the Charles J. Queenan Jr. Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, where she is also on the faculty of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. Her honors include membership in the Society of Experimental Psychologists, an Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, the Kurt Koffka Medaille from Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen, Germany, and being named an Ambassador for the Technical University of Munich.

In her abstract, she states: “I now look for the sweet spot that bridges interesting basic issues to human performance in settings where time and space are critical, and even small improvements matter. I will talk not only about examples of this approach, but also about general principles that guide my choice of problems and methods by which I attempt to enhance perceptually guided action.”

Something to look forward to on Thursday, 17 November, 8pm.


This year’s annual meeting will include 4 symposia. See below for summaries from the abstracts:

  • Model-based cognitive neuroscience, organized by Tom Palmeri and Brandon Turner. Cognitive modeling has a rich history of formalizing and testing hypotheses about cognitive mechanisms within a mathematical and computational language, making exquisite predictions of how people perceive, learn, remember, and decide. Cognitive neuroscience aims to identify neural mechanisms associated with key aspects of cognition, using techniques like neurophysiology, electrophysiology, and structural and functional brain imaging. These two come together in a powerful new approach called model-based cognitive neuroscience. This symposium highlights a number of successful approaches within this emerging field.
  • Motivated Memory: Considering the Functional Role of Memory, organized by Christopher Madan. Memory is not a tape recorder. Instead, many factors can lead some experiences to be more memorable than others. This leads to an important consideration: What is the functional role of memory? From this perspective, some experiences are more valuable in informing future behavior and should be selectively prioritized, such as those that evoke reward- or emotion-related processes. Here we broadly consider these processes as effects of motivational salience on memory.
  • Language by Mouth and by Hand, organized by Iris Berent and Susan Goldin-Meadow. What principles determine the architecture of the language system: is language structure fully embodied in its sensorimotor bodily channel, or are some aspects of the language system amodal and abstract?  This symposium addresses this question by examining the effect of the manual modality on the structure of sign language, its lexical storage, neural implementation, and interaction with nonlinguistic systems (the conceptual system and spatial cognition).
  • The Evolutionary and Psychological Significance of Play, organized by Lance Miller and Alex De Voogt. Defining a complex behavior such as play is quite challenging. Given the diversity of types of play—from pretend play, rough and tumble play, board games, locomoter to social play—it may not be possible to have one definition that extends across all types. However, a process has been proposed to help guide the field of play research forward to help better understand the function of this complex behavior, which is examined in this symposium.

Special events

Various special events are scheduled throughout the meeting. Details here.

Digital Aspects of the meeting

  • Quite a few of the digital team will be in attendance (myself included) and we will be live tweeting the conference using the hashtag #Psynom16. Everybody is welcome to join in, and the Twitter feed last year in Chicago was quite vibrant.
  • The digital team will be represented by a poster (#243) during poster sessions I, II, III, and IV. Join the digital team at our posters to contribute to the discussion and to learn more about the Society’s engagement on digital and social media. A digital team member will be there throughout those sessions.

Digital event during the week of 28 November

One of the most successful digital initiatives have been the various “digital events” that we have been hosting, starting with the Interface Theory of Perception last year (you can re-read the week-long sequence of posts from this entry point.), followed by digital events on confidence intervals, and embodied cognition.

Building on this success, we will be hosting another week-long digital event from 28 November onward. The event will be based on a recent article by Nelson Cowan on working memory. Stand by for further details.

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