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Forthcoming Issues

The following topiCS are forthcoming in 2012 or 2013:


Topic on Philosophy in Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuroscience (ongoing)

Topic Editor: Andrew Brook (Carleton University)

Analytic philosophy of mind, language, and science has always thought of itself as contributing to cognitive science and cognitive science has always thought of philosophy of these kinds as part of what makes it up. Indeed, philosophers such as Putnam, Fodor and Dennett were there at the beginning and are still much read and discussed by the community. Yet philosophy's place in cognitive research has never been stable or well understood. Philosophers do not do experiments and if they build models, the models are highly abstract and unspecific. Philosophers are often just as keen to study an interesting possibility via a thought-experiment as to find new facts by doing 'real' experiments. Sometimes they are blithely indifferent to the facts. So what are these people about and how could they make a contribution to hardheaded science of the kind that cognitive science aspires to create? Those are the topics of the papers in the Philosophy in Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuroscience series. Rather than being limited to one section of one issue of topiCS, the papers in this series will be published as a subsection across multiple issues of topiCS.

TOPIC on Production of Referring Expressions – Bridging the Gap betweeen Computational and Empirical Approaches to References

Topic Editor: Kees van Deemter (University of Aberdeen), Albert Gatt (University of Malta), Roger van Gompel (University of Dundee) and Emiel Krahmer (Tilburg University)

The production of referring expressions has been studied from many perspectives including cognitive science, psycholinguistics and computational linguistics, yet several open questions remain about how human speakers refer to entities. A referring expression is typically defined as one which is produced in order to identify an object or set of objects for a listener or reader, in a relevant domain of discourse. Research has zoomed in on definite descriptions, deictic expressions, anaphors, and many other areas. In spite of several decades of research on the topic, our understanding of it is still incomplete, in part due to a lack of communication between the various disciplines, a remarkable state of affairs given the substantial overlap in the topics that these practitioners have investigated. We believe that the time is ripe to bridge the gap between these disciplines. Psycholinguistics offers important insights into the cognitive mechanisms underlying the production of referring expressions, through carefully controlled experiments. Computational linguistics has a well-established approach involving corpus analysis and computational modeling. The goal of this topic is to foster greater understanding and collaboration between psycholinguists, computational linguists, and researchers in related fields (e.g., theoretical linguists interested in models of human language that are grounded in cognitive principles), by making research results available and accessible to both.

GREAT DEBATE: Complex Systems Approach to Cognitive Science

Pro Editors: Damian C. Stephen (University of Connecticut) & Guy C. Van Orden (University of Cincinnati)

Pro: Phenomena of emergence in human behavior have led some cognitive scientists to seek insights from complexity science. Complexity in this sense is not “complication” but rather entails a strong form of emergence that creates the functional properties of behavior. Emergent phenomena require nonlinear interaction among components of a system undergoing such qualitative change. This interaction, or interdependence among parts, is the key to on-line coordination of the mind and body in the real time behaviors of living beings. Evidence of interdependence and emergence is found in power-law relations between the size and frequency of changes in repeated measurements of human activities, and changes in the power-law structure predict qualitative changes in performance. This has allowed progress on problems that appear to require emergence or at least some account of qualitative change, such as creativity, strategy change, sudden qualitative changes in behavior, or simply changing one's mind. The papers in this issue outline the complexity approach to cognitive science as they review empirical research in psycholinguistics and linguistics, as well as perception, action, and cognition; discuss the philosophical underpinnings of interdependence for theories of cognition; and describe a complexity-based theory of emergence of cognitive capacities in development.

Con: Editors wanted!!

TOPIC on Music Cognition

Topic Editors: Martin Rohrmeier (Cambridge University) & Patrick Rebuschat (Georgetown University)

The past 10-15 years have witnessed a strong and increasing interest in the study of music cognition. Music, like language, is a uniquely human trait, so it is not surprising that this interest spans practically all branches of cognitive science. The forthcoming issue on music cognition brings together contributors from a wide variety of research fields, including anthropology, cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, and computer science, in order to assess the progress made in the investigation of music cognition, to identify current research trends and to determine future directions to take in this interdisciplinary enterprise. The review articles in this issue of TOPICS provide a snapshot of the diversity of cognitive music research and demonstrate how the study of music cognition enriches our general understanding of human cognition. We hope that the volume will also promote the development of the field by promoting interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration.

TOPIC on Mathematical Practice and Cognition

Topic Editors: Alison Pease, Markus Guhe, and Alan Smaill (University of Edinburgh)
Date Topic Accepted: 2011-04apr-18


Researchers in mathematical practice and cognition are forming increasingly well-established communities with independent approaches and methodologies. The aim of this topiCS issue is to establish and strengthen connections between these and other areas of research, and, where relevant, to relate work carried out in such arenas to the cognitive science mainstream. Thus, this interdisciplinary issue aims to present commonalities and interactions between researchers who investigate how people do mathematics.

TOPIC on The Future of Embodied Cognition

Topic Editors: Joshua Ian Davis (Barnard College) & Arthur B. Markman (University of Texas, Austin)
Date Topic Accepted: 2010-07jul-21

The rapidly growing interest in embodiment across multiple disciplines is exciting and with formal organization this field of study will continue to flourish. Now is an historically exciting time to help shape the use of embodied mind approaches, connect across disciplines, and set an agenda that will allow research to flourish in the coming decades. The structure of the issue is designed around building this interdisciplinary community and making it accessible. The goals of the issue are as follows: 1) enable connections across disciplines 2) develop a relevant research agenda 3) create resources to organize work and serve as educational tools going forward. The issue begins with a paper defining and describing the multiple views of embodiment, how they fit together, and the value to researchers and theorists of the approach. A series of papers then each describes how embodiment is used and where it is headed within specific fields. Contributions represent various branches of Psychology and Neuroscience, as well as Computer science, Philosophy, Anthropology, and several applications of embodied mind concepts to areas including some arts and humanities. The issue culminates with commentary discussing how the target articles represent a shift in embodiment since earlier contributions.

TOPIC on Formal Learning Theory Relevant to Cognitive Science

Topic Editors: Sean A. Fulop (Calfornia State University, Fresno) & Nick Chater (University of Warwick)
Date Topic Accepted: 2011-03mar-22

Formal learning theory constitutes a diverse collection of approaches to the mathematical modeling of learning. From the point of view of cognitive science, formal learning theory can provide constraints on what is learnable by different types of formal mechanism. While cognitive science is most canonically concerned with the construction of computational models of specific cognitive phenomena (including learning of all kinds, and of course language acquisition), there remain fundamental questions about the capabilities of different classes of cognitive models, and about the classes of data from which such models can successfully learn. There has been an unfortunate disconnect between formal learning theory and computational cognitive science in the literature, generally speaking. This topic encompasses papers which seek to connect learning theory results with cognitive computational models more directly than is typically done; the topic promotes the viewpoint that formal learning theory has the potential to play a role within cognitive science analogous to that played by theoretical computer science with respect to applied computing.

TOPIC on Does Cognitive Science Need Anthropology

Topic Editors: Sieghard Beller (University of Freiburg), Andrea Bender (University of Freiburg) & Douglas L. Medin (Northwestern University)
Date Topic Accepted: 2011-04apr-21

Anthropology once was a pioneer in the cognitive revolution and a founding member of the cognitive sciences. Over the years, however, its presence and influence have continuously decreased. At the same time, the role of culture is increasingly recognized as of prime relevance for cognitive science, both as a source for cognitive diversity and as the context of cognition. It might thus seem only natural to call for anthropology’s expertise in culture and language, and to advocate its re-integration into the cognitive sciences. And yet, many on both sides appear to be reluctant to answer it. There can be no doubt that cognitive science needs to adopt a more diversified perspective, but does it need anthropology? This issue will present a debate on the prospects for a rapprochement between anthropology and the other cognitive sciences. A deliberately provocative introduction by the editors will set the stage for a frank sharing of perspectives, to which each of the other authors will contribute by highlighting the pros and cons of cultural research with and without anthropologists.

analogous to that played by theoretical computer science with respect to applied computing.

TOPIC on The Potential of Quantum Probability for Modeling Cognitive Processes

Topic Editors: Jereme R. Busemeyer (Indiana University) & Zheng Wang (Ohio State University)
Date Topic Accepted: 2011-09sep-11

Classic and quantum probability theories are fundamentally different, and the critical question for cognitive scientists is which set of rules provides a better description of human cognition. In recent years, quantum probability theory has been successfully used to explain many important anomalies in human cognition that resist classic explanations. These applications range from associative memory to decision making under uncertainty, accumulating strong evidence for the viability of quantum probability theory for modeling cognitive processes. Our special issue aims to reflect on the state of the art on this topic, address controversial issues, synthesize current theoretical viewpoints, and inspire new directions for theoretical development and testing of formal cognitive models. The special issue will be followed by commentaries on the core papers.

TOPIC on Interfacing Mind and Environment: The Central Role of Search in Cognition

Topic Editors: Wai-Tat Fu (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Thomas Hills (University of Basel), & Peter Todd (Indiana University)
Date Topic Accepted: 2011-10oct-23

Search can be found in almost every cognitive activity, ranging across vision, memory retrieval, problem solving, decision making, foraging, and social interaction. Because of its ubiquity, research on search has had a tendency to fragment into multiple areas of cognitive science. The proposed topic aims at providing an integrative discussion of the central role of search from multiple perspectives. We focus on controlled search processes, which require (1) a goal, (2) uncertainty about the nature, location, or acquisition method of the objects to be searched for, and (3) a method for sampling through the search environment. While this definition of search is general and applicable to different domains, the specific search environments, strategies, and underlying cognitive and neural processes may differ. The goal of this issue is to compare and contrast search processes, in an effort to understand how structure, strategy, and process interact to generate search across different cognitive domains. We expect that given its cross-domain nature, the topic on search will be of broad interest to cognitive scientists including psychologists, behavioral ecologists, computer scientists, neuroscientists, linguists, and sociologists.

TOPIC on Computational Models of Natural Language

Topic Editors: John Hale (Cornell)
Date Topic Accepted: 2010-01jan-18

How do people come to "know" what has been said to them, just on the basis of what they hear or see? Accounting for this human ability, even in a comprehender's first language, is a grand challenge problem for cognitive science. This issue updates the community on new work in this area, leveraging recent advantages in computational linguistics.

TOPIC on Utility Maximization and Bounds on Human Information Processing

Topic Editors: Andrew Howes (University of Birmingham), Richard L. Lewis (University of Michigan), & Satinder Singh (University of Michigan)
Date Topic Accepted: 2011-11nov-29

Utility maximization is a key element of a number of theoretical approaches to understanding human perceptual, cognitive, and motor processing, including models based on decision theory, control theory, reinforcement learning, signal detection theory, and some Bayesian approaches to control and inference. But the extent to which computational bounds, imposed by neural information processing and experience, impose limits on attainable utility varies widely. Representing these approaches include models that derive unbounded optimal solutions as normative benchmarks, models that use bounds to motivate approximate solutions to unbounded optimization problems, and models that incorporate bounds as an explicit part of the definition of an optimal control problem. The proposed issue will bring together work from across this spectrum and in so doing support an analysis of the respective theoretical and empirical implications. The journal issue will give prominence to, and enable contrast between, the various bounded utility maximization, constrained optimization, and Bayesian rational approaches. Our purpose is to provide evidence with which the reader can make an informed and sober assessment of the shared and disparate strengths and weaknesses of each of these approaches. It will also be to introduce, clarify, and contribute to the definition of the key concepts and their relevance to cognitive science; concepts such as utility, rationality, constrained-optimization, and bounds.

We expect that given its cross-domain nature, the topic on search will be of broad interest to cognitive scientists including psychologists, behavioral ecologists, computer scientists, neuroscientists, linguists, and sociologists.

TOPIC on Action and Language Integration: From Humans to Cognitive Robots

Topic Editors: Angelo Cangelosi (Plymouth University, UK) & Anna M. Borghi (Bologna University and ISTC-CRN, Italy)
Date Topic Accepted: 2011-11nov-29

Recent theoretical and experimental research on action and language processing clearly demonstrates the strict interaction and co-dependence between language and action. This is based on growing evidence from neuroscience, developmental and cognitive psychology, and cognitive linguistics, particularly in the field of embodied cognition. However, open research challenges lie in the development of comprehensive theoretical frameworks and the subsequent formulation of more precise and constrained hypotheses. Cognitive robotics experiments and embodied computational models constitute a powerful means that can help researchers disentangle ambiguous issues, provide better and clearer definitions and formulate clearer predictions.

Parallel recent developments in cognitive robotics illustrate the potential of using embodied computational models of language and action learning and integration. But so far experimental and modelling studies have tended to remain mostly separate. The special issue is aimed at filling this gap and presenting the latest interdisciplinary development of the investigation of action and language integration in natural and artificial cognitive systems.




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