A week till #psynom17: The Highlights

The annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society will go under way in a week. The Society is looking forward to seeing you in Vancouver. 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. (My best guess is that you have already done that if you plan to attend.)

There are a few events that deserve to be highlighted:

Keynote speaker

The keynote address this year will be given by Randall “Randy” W. Engle from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Randy” went to West Virginia State College because it was the only college he could afford to attend but it was one of the transforming experiences of his life. State was a public all-black college prior to 1954. As a consequence, most of his faculty were outstanding black scholars who could not get jobs at predominantly white top universities. Randy had a Harvard graduate for his math courses, a Yale PhD as a drama teacher, and his French teacher was a black woman with a PhD from the Sorbonne. These were impressive people to a hillbilly kid with no idea why you would ever have two forks beside your plate.

After obtaining a PhD at Ohio State, Randy was lucky to land a job at King College in Tennessee where he taught 10 classes per year. His equipment being limited to a tape recorder and a slide projector, he did research on modality effects in short-term memory. At the end of two years, he had two publications, enough to land him a job at the University of South Carolina where he spent the next 21 years. He moved to the School of Psychology at Georgia Institute of Technology as Chair, a position he held for 13 years.

In his abstract, he states: “psychological research .. followed two parallel and largely non-interacting tracks over its history: experimental psychology which we associate with Wilhelm Wundt, and differential psychology which we associate with Francis Galton. Most Psychonomes are of the experimental persuasion. I have tended to use both approaches in trying to understand the nature and importance of working memory capacity (WMC) and its relationship to fluid intelligence (Gf).”

Something to look forward to on Thursday, 9 November, 8pm.


This year’s annual meeting will include 5 symposia. See below for summaries from the abstracts:

Dual Process Theory 2.0

Friday, November 10  |  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  |  West Meeting Room 109-110
The two-headed, dual process view of human thinking has been very influential in the cognitive sciences. The core idea that thinking can be conceived as an interplay between a fast-intuitive and slower-deliberate process has inspired a wide range of psychologists, philosophers, and economists. However, despite the popularity of the dual process framework it faces multiple challenges. The various speakers in this symposium will give an overview of empirical work and recent advances in dual process theorizing that started to focus on these fundamental outstanding issues.

Improving Use of Statistical Inference in Science

Friday, November 10  |  1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.  |  West Meeting Room 109-110
This symposium features seven speakers that focus on a proper use of statistical inference in science. Talks will feature suggestions for improvement on statistical practices in different fields, new cutting-edge techniques for statistical inference, ways to diagnose improper methodology and inference, and recommendations on improving methodological practices.

Beyond the Lab: Using Big Data to Discover Principles of Cognition

Friday, November 10  |  3:50 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.  |  West Meeting Room 109-110
With more than 100 years of collective practice, experimental psychologists have become highly sophisticated in their application of well-controlled laboratory experiments to reveal principles of human cognition and behavior. This approach has yielded rigorous experimental designs with extensive controls and it should be valued and encouraged. But the very expertise with which psychologists wield their tools for achieving laboratory control may now be limiting our field to the ways in which we can discover principles of cognition by going beyond the lab.

When Man Bites Dog: What do Developmental Reversals Tell Us about Cognitive Development, Aging, and the Brain

Saturday, November 11  |  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  |  West Meeting Room 109-110
Historically, childhood has been construed as a period of limitations: in almost every aspect of human functioning older children and adults outperform younger children. However, childhood is also the time of unique opportunities to learn. In this symposium, we explore the possibility these aspects of development are related, with some cognitive immaturities being beneficial for learning early in development. Such less is more principle has consequences – situations in which younger children outperform older children and adults. We identify these situations as developmental reversals. Developmental reversals are both surprising and theoretically informative.

50 Years of Implicit Learning Research: A Symposium in Honor of Arthur S. Reber

Saturday, November 11  |  1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.  |  West Meeting Room 109-110
In 1967, the term ‘implicit learning’ was coined to describe a phenomenon in which participants appeared to extract complex underlying rules without being able to report what they had learned. Over the last fifty years, a substantial amount of research has followed the idea of learning outside awareness across debates on consciousness. In this symposium we will review research that has followed in this tradition, considering its history and examining how the idea of implicit learning came to pervade theories of memory and continues to influence research in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Special events

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

Live Tweeting

Quite a few of the digital team will be in attendance (myself included) and we will be live tweeting the conference using the hashtag #Psynom17. Everybody is welcome to join in, and the Twitter feeds during the last few years (in Chicago and Boston) were quite vibrant.

Digital workshop

Finally, I want to highlight the “digital” lunchtime workshop on Friday, November 10, 12:00 – 1:30 in West Meeting Room 114. The workshop is entitled The Digital Psychonomic Society: From Social Media to Clever Apps and will be hosted by me and Richard Morey.

The purpose of this workshop is twofold: First, to further expand the Society’s social-media engagement and visibility, and second, to acquaint the membership with web-based or app-based applications that can facilitate public engagement, scholarly presentations, and teaching.

The major part of the workshop will involve hands-on exposure to a number of smart online apps and websites that provide productivity tools and opportunities for audience engagement. The workshop should broaden your understanding of the many free (or at least affordable) tools that are offered by the Internet for scholars, teachers, and communicators.

We will show how technology can even help foster diversity—and the Psychonomic Society is committed to diversity.

I hope you will have a chance to attend the workshop. And if you do, bring your internet enabled cellphone. It would be particularly helpful if you downloaded an app beforehand that can read QR codes. Don’t know what a QR code is? Come along and find out!

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