WHAT's UP: Specialist Workshops and Courses

16/03/2017 Data Workflow or The Restaurant at the End of the tidyverse (Frank Loesche)
16/02/2017 Lessons I have learned from being on the faculty hiring committee (Yaniv Hanoch)
08/02/2017 Tutorial: From data and markdown to camera-ready paper (Ilaria Torre, Frank Loesche)
21/07/2016 ColLaboratoire progress update (Kathryn B. Francis, Christos Melidis, Ilaria Torre, and Tara Zaksaite)
23/06/2016 Learning of Action Selection for Social Human Robot Interaction (Emmanuel Senft)
09/06/2016 Searching for the role of the parietal cortex in visual and auditory multistability (Mihaela Taranu)
05/05/2016 Imagery Training To Promote Healthy Eating and Glycemic Control: Trial of A Robotic Intervention (Nicole Robinson)
14/04/2016 Creativity, and Cognitive Innovation: A View from the Bridge (Sue Denham and Michael Punt)
31/03/2016 Artificial Creativity or the Exploration of Immense Rugged Landscapes (Thomas R. Colin)
24/03/2016 Thinking through Space in Fiction (David Sergeant)
17/03/2016 Data collection in southern USA (Vaibhav Tyagi and Frank Loesche)
10/03/2016 Redundancy effect: gaze latency for blocked and uncorrelated cues (Tara Zaksaite)
15/10/2015 Voice for Radio CogNovia? (Kathryn B. Francis and Lucy Davies)
23/07/2015 Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning as Creative Problem Solving (Thomas R. Colin)
16/07/2015 Models of associative learning: a brief introduction (Tara Zaksaite)
09/07/2015 Impressions of Japan: discovering the harmony of tradition and modernity (Ivana Kajic)
25/06/2015 The challenge of interdisciplinary conferences (Thomas R. Colin)
10/06/2015 What is a Genode? (Sebastian Sumpf)
04/06/2015 'Otak-otak' or, A Cognovian in Jakarta. (Guy Edmonds)
14/05/2015 The effect of experience on trust attributions varies among British accents (Ilaria Torre)
02/04/2015 Green creativity": how to combine research with everyday practice? (Ilaria Torre, Diego Maranan)
22/01/2015 Ballet Mécanique - From Black and White to (Hand) Colour, a Restoration History (Guy Edmonds)
15/01/2015 Creativity, Schizotypy and Blocking (Tara Zaksaite)
08/01/2015 Welcome to Radio Cognovia (Rebecca Pearce and Martin Coath)
11/12/2014 Broad or Selective Attention in Creative Individuals? Neuroscientific Evidence (Darya Zabelina)
04/12/2014 I Sing The Body Electric: Speculations on the Future of Internet-mediated Musical Creativity (Diego Maranan)
20/11/2014 Installfest (Frank Loesche)
13/11/2014 The Bugatti Film - An analogue filmmaking Odyssey in the age of digital (Guy Edmonds)
06/11/2014 Domain generality/specificity in the number of perceptual switches and phase durations in bistable visual and auditory stimuli. (Mihaela Taranu)
30/10/2014 Ain't got GIT - get it? (Frank Loesche)
23/10/2014 What you need to know about Reinforcement Learning (Thomas R. Colin)
16/10/2014 Building an interface the other way round (Christos Melidis)
09/10/2014 Photography Techniques 1 - Exposure, Depth of Field & Camera Settings (John Sikorski)
02/10/2014 Letting Evolution Solve your Problems: An Introduction to Genetic Algorithms (Jack McKay Fletcher)
25/09/2014 RDC.1 presentations (Ivana Kajic, Jack McKay Fletcher, and Michael Straeubig)
17/07/2014 Citation Management Tools Are Super Cool, Especially When They Let Me See What You're Reading: An Introduction to Zotero (Diego Maranan)
17/07/2014 Academic Literature on Dopamine: Docear (Christos Melidis and Frank Loesche)
15/07/2014 Python in Science (Ivana Kajic and Jack McKay Fletcher)
10/07/2014 Introduction to PureData (Michael Straeubig)
11/07/2014 Non mathematical introduction to Dynamical Systems with application to brain modelling - Part 2 (Roman Borisyuk)
04/07/2014 Non mathematical introduction to Dynamical Systems with application to brain modelling - Part 1 (Roman Borisyuk)
03/07/2014 Introduction to Praat: doing phonetics by computer (Ilaria Torre)
01/07/2014 Introduction to High Performance Computing (Thomas Wennekers)
20/06/2014 Prezi Workshop (Sergiu Filiuta)
19/06/2014 Neurons, chips, and the wider public agenda (Martin Coath)
19/06/2014 All for one and one for all - setting up a creative measures database (Raluca Briazu and Kathryn Francis)
05/06/2014 When all think alike, then no one is thinking (Vaibhav Tyagi)
29/05/2014 Friday Puzzles (Roman Borisyuk)
19/05/2014 MATLAB Drop-In session (Martin Coath)
15/05/2014 Tools we have (Frank Loesche)
14/05/2014 Understanding the Leonardo Review process (Sue Denham)


Specialist Workshops, Courses, and WHAT's UP

These workshops and short courses are organised by the CogNovo Research Fellows and their supervisors, on an ad-hoc basis, for the sharing of skills, knowledge and research methods.

One example is the series of WHAT’s UP - a weekly time slot to present new ideas, technical, and methodological background or start a discussion about some interesting topic. WHAT's UP is curated by Yaniv and Frank. Please drop them a line if you want to present something in that series.

Whilst primarily of interest to our CogNovo Fellows, all of these events are open for all to attend.
Unless otherwise indicated, they all take place in the CogNovo Headquarters, Link 3 Seminar Room and Workspace, Plymouth University

14 May 2014 - Sue Denham:

Understanding the Leonardo Review process

15 May 2014 - WHAT's UP Frank Loesche:

Tools we have…

…is intended to start a discussion about how we could easily communicate and will shed light on possible uses of some applications installed on the computers provided by the university

19 May 2014 - Martin Coath:

MATLAB Drop-In session

The idea is that we address things on a strictly introductory level, suitable for everybody. You bring questions, comments, data along and we work through them as far as possible as a group, on laptops, in the big space.
If nobody brings anything I will pick a small topic and run through a few tips and tricks.

29 May 2014 - WHAT's UP Roman Borisyuk:

Friday Puzzles

Roman Borisyuk is going to discuss the Friday-Puzzles and ask your opinion if these puzzles are useful, interesting, difficult, easy, etc. Also, he would like to know how many students were able to solve them. Also, he will discuss solutions and around.

05 June 2014 - WHAT's UP Vaibhav Tyagi:

When all think alike, then no one is thinking

Creativity, according to the creative genius Leonardo Da Vinci, is doing something else when others have copied what you’ve done before. Creativity to me is a cognitive property which allows us to be motivated to generate something which has never existed before. I am sure one could come up with a simpler or more complex definition of creativity. Definitions of creativity can be extended beyond the basic belief of it being related to something new. It can include concepts like (i) creating using what, (ii) in what ways, (iii) using what methods, and (iv) how widely is the creation accepted by others.

Scientific fields like Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience have been trying to understand this elusive psychological construct using a wide variety of definitions, understandings and assumptions. We as a part of CogNovo, a programme aimed at understanding creativity, will soon start using our independent definitions of creativity. These definitions will be guided by our motivations, ease of use, availability of behavioural tests and a wide variety of other factors. Let’s come together at this week’s WHAT’s UP and discuss what we think creativity is, and why we think our definition is more suitable. Additionally, and more importantly if possible, come at a common definition of this construct we all aim to chase.

19 June 2014 - WHAT's UP Raluca Briazu and Kathryn Francis:

All for one and one for all - setting up a creative measures database

With creativity being such an important factor for many of the projects in CogNovo, we thought it would be useful to join forces and create a creativity database. This database will allow (anyone who is interested) to record what they have read about creativity as a process, person, place etc. More importantly, everyone else will then be able to view this record and access the paper.

We will be demonstrating how this database works during the What's Up session. In the meantime, take a look at the database and prepare any questions or additional sections you might want to add to it.
If you have technical issues concerning access rights to the database let Frank know.

19 June 2014 - WHAT's UP Martin Coath:

Neurons, chips, and the wider public agenda

Working with colleagues in Zurich and Bielefeld we have published two papers in the last 18 months that are the first in the literature to propose a neuromorphic approach to devices that model adaptive auditory feature extraction. We are now exploiting this approach, and exploring other approaches, to work towards a device that could handle real sounds and learn to recognise "auditory objects" in field conditions.

Some might argue this is not a topic to talk about with primary or even high school students. Being a STEM volunteer I do exactly that and believe it is a jumping off point to act as an "ambassador" for science and engineering in general. This includes mathematics, computing, the environment, the Cognition Institute, the University and so on in all their infinite variety.

20 June 2014 - Sergiu Filiuta

Prezi Workshop

Basic topics including:
What is Prezi? Getting started with Prezi; Add text; Choose style; Create lines and frames; Add images; Use of video in Prezi; Make a path in your prezi; Download Prezi.

Moving on to more advanced topic such as:
3D backgrounds; Create gradients in the background; The difference between vectors and pixels; How do create infographics in Prezi (this topic will be covered quite simplistically as it required knowledge in different design imagine software); Fade-in animations; Adjust Frame thickness; Images in Prezi; The use of sound/voice over; Prezi embed in a website; Plus others

And finally:
Better structuring in Prezi; Better building your prezi; Thinking of a good strategy; Creating a clear overview; How do you get creative?; How do you tell your story?; Surprise effects

01 July 2014 - Thomas Wennekers:

Introduction to High Performance Computing

03 July 2014 - WHAT's UP Ilaria Torre:

Introduction to Praat: doing phonetics by computer

This WHAT’s UP session will focus on Praat, a widely used open source software in the world of phonetics and speech science. Apart from being an excellent tool to carry out acoustic analyses and some basic speech synthesis it is an easy way to work on sound files in .wav or .mp3 formats. For example, it is possible to add silence of any specified duration to a sound file, to concatenate different sound files, to cut and paste portions of the sound files, to add labels etc. At a more advanced level, it also allows the use of scripts, which can save a lot of time when performing many sequences of operations. Praat was developed by Paul Boersma and David Weenink in Amsterdam in 1995, and it has been constantly updated ever since (download and description here).

The session will be an overview of the many possibilities that Praat offers to edit sounds and analyse them. In case there is an interest in learning how to perform some more specific operations, I will prepare other sessions to cover more advanced topics.

04 July 2014 - Roman Borisyuk:

Non mathematical introduction to Dynamical Systems with application to brain modelling

10 July 2014 - WHAT's UP Michael Straeubig:

Introduction to PureData

Pure Data (aka Pd) is an open source visual programming language. Pd enables musicians, visual artists, performers, researchers, and developers to create software graphically, without writing lines of code. Pd is used to process and generate sound, video, 2D/3D graphics, and interface sensors, input devices, and MIDI. Pd can easily work over local and remote networks to integrate wearable technology, motor systems, lighting rigs, and other equipment. Pd is suitable for learning basic multimedia processing and visual programming methods as well as for realizing complex systems for large-scale projects.” (from: https://puredata.info/)

In this 1 hour workshop I will give you an introduction to Pd and show what others have done with it. Focus will be on practical exercises - you will write little programs, called “patches" in Pd. Who those who are interested we can do some in-depth stuff in a later session.

15 July 2014 - WHAT's UP Ivana Kajic and Jack McKay Fletcher:

Python in Science

We will discuss why Python is one of the most popular languages nowadays, increasingly replacing Matlab, R and some other programming languages. We will see the domains where it is used, with a particular focus on using Python for scientific purposes. Whether you do data analysis, language processing, image processing, computational modelling, experimental design or statistical analysis, Python can help you with that. We will present many of the Python packages that are useful in linguistics, psychology as well as in computing areas.

17 July 2014 - WHAT's UP Christos Melidis and Frank Loesche:

Academic Literature on Dopamine: Docear

Docear is yet another software to manage your citations. The developers call it an academic literature suite. For us it looks like a mixture between a mind mapping, citation tool, and an idea scratch book. In that sense it might be helpful to get the read literature organised.

We will show you how we use it and might gather some ideas how to improve that process.
This will be a hands on session – so bring your devices! …and we hope rather to start a discussion than giving a talk…

17 July 2014 - WHAT's UP Diego Maranan:

Citation Management Tools Are Super Cool, Especially When They Let Me See What You're Reading: An Introduction to Zotero

This brief and informal workshop introduces Zotero, an open source citation management tool. Troubleshooting questions specific to Zotero will be welcome. However, the workshop will also use Zotero as a mere starting point for further discussion on strategies for (collaborative) bibliography management within CogNovo. Comparisons between citation management tools will be encouraged.

25 September 2014 - WHAT's UP Ivana Kajic, Jack McKay Fletcher, and Michael Straeubig:

RDC.1 presentations

They will present their ideas on how to proceed in their research a.k.a. RDC.1 talks. Please expect interesting insights on neural concept samplers, computational brain modelling, engaging and trustworthy voices, and mixed reality games

02 October 2014 - WHAT's UP Jack McKay Fletcher:

Letting Evolution Solve your Problems: An Introduction to Genetic Algorithms

In a genetic algorithm, a population of candidate solutions (called individuals, creatures, or phenotypes) to an optimization problem is evolved toward better solutions. Each candidate solution has a set of properties (its chromosomes or genotype) which can be mutated and altered. Each generation, which are basically solutions generated at the same time, is tested against a fitness function for it's validity to solve the problem. The fittest solutions will be combined to new generations and tested iteratively.

Jack will give a general introduction on what those algorithms can do for you and will discuss how they could potentially be used to solve your problems.

09 October 2014 - WHAT's UP John Sikorski:

Photography Techniques 1 - Exposure, Depth of Field & Camera Settings

In this talk, John will be introducing a number of the basic technical aspects of photography and cameras. It will cover Exposure, Depth of field, Shutter speed & Aperture, Light & Colour Temperature, ISO settings, focusing modes, Focal lengths, Image Quality settings. It’s suitable for anyone interested in better understanding both consumer model and SLR camera operation, though this talk will have minimal application to iPhone cameras.

16 October 2014 - WHAT's UP Christos Melidis:

Building an interface the other way round

The remote control of mechanical devices equipped with a large number of actuators, such as humanoid robots, is a challenging task. When dealing with the resulting large number of degrees-of-freedom, the nature of the interface provided to the human operator plays a fundamental role in the success of tele-robotic performance. A wide range of tele-robotic interfaces have been explored so far; some are very rigid devices that require a great deal of cognitive and manual effort, while other more intuitive systems, based on one-to-one body mapping, are in contrast very complex and expensive devices, often specifically tailored to a single robotic platform. In this What's up talk Christos will describe his approach to interfacing with robots.

23 October 2014 - WHAT's UP Thomas R. Colin:

What you need to know about Reinforcement Learning

Reinforcement learning (RL) is likely to be at the very heart of how we learn, act, create. It has a long multidisciplinary history spanning all of cognitive science. Due to this, the words "reinforcement learning" have different meanings in different contexts, and misunderstandings are common across disciplines. What does RL refer to in psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience? What are its most basic mechanisms? What are the latest developments – and what do they mean for your discipline?
Thomas will try to answer all of those questions - and discuss any other question you might have.

30 October 2014 - WHAT's UP Frank Loesche:

Ain't got GIT - get it?

GIT and github are great tools to manage and share data that changes over time. While GIT was invented to track changes of thousands of developers in one of the largest shared code bases it's basic functionality is easy to use. Frank will discuss how these basic functions can be used in setting up experiments, analysing data, and getting feedback and help from other CogNovians for these artifacts. If you are undecided if or how to use it - this talk will give you a basic understanding and you will be able to decide afterwards if it is something you would like to use.

06 November 2014 - WHAT's UP Mihaela Taranu:

Domain generality/specificity in the number of perceptual switches and phase durations in bistable visual and auditory stimuli.

The question of whether switching patterns in visual and auditory multistable stimuli are domain specific or domain general is open. Some studies show that auditory and visual ambiguous switching patterns show similar characteristics (Pressnitzer & Hupé , 2006) while other studies point out important differences in the auditory and visual phenomena (Kashino & Kondo, 2012). The current aim was to address the question of domain generality/specificity in the number of perceptual switches and the phase duration of the initial interpretation in both visual and auditory bistable stimuli. Also, we examined whether inhibitory capacity, working memory and set-shifting abilities relate with the number of switches and the phase duration of the initial interpretation in both types of bistable stimuli. We conducted two experiments. In both experiment we measured participants’ switching rates across 5 trials. In the first experiment (N = 20) we used the duck/rabbit ambiguous figure (Ambiguous figure task) and the fly/life verbal transformation stimulus (Verbal transformation task). In the second experiment (N = 19), we used the cylinder moving clockwise/anti-clockwise (Ambiguous motion task) and 1tap/2 taps (Auditory streaming task). Further, participants completed an inhibition task (Day Night Stroop task), a working memory control task (Day Night Memory Control Task) and a cognitive flexibility task (Fist). We found a high correlation between the numbers of switches in the duck/rabbit ambiguous figures and verbal transformation task. This may be preliminary evidence of domain general switching patterns in high-level auditory and visual stimuli. In contrast, no such association was found for ambiguous motion stimuli and auditory streaming stimuli. Thus, there is no evidence of general switching patterns across domains when low-level auditory and visual stimuli are used. Inhibition, working memory and set-shifting did not relate to switching patterns within and/or across domains.

13 November 2014 - WHAT's UP Guy Edmonds:

The Bugatti Film - An analogue filmmaking Odyssey in the age of digital

Guy will present a 15 minute talk which will detail different phases in the production of a 16mm colour sound film which he finished this year. He will give some insight into the techniques employed and also reflect on the process of working with technologies which are on the brink of obsolescence. Following the talk he will screen the 16mm print of the film (Bugatti - Le Terrain Anglais, colour, optical sound, 15mins) and welcomes questions after the screening.

20 November 2014 - WHAT's UP Frank Loesche:


In preparation for an EEG workshop that is going to happen next week, Frank is moderating an installfest for required software. Please bring a bit of patience and your computers - if possible with a working MATLAB installation. We will start around 4pm. If you can't make that - just join in any time later or contact Frank if you need help. After the session everyone should have MATLAB, EEG Lab, and ERP Lab running. Also, if you want to collect data yourself, we will try to install OpenVIBE.

The software is a prerequisite for participating in the workshop - so please make sure that you will attend today's session if you signed up for the workshop next week. You are also welcome if you do not participate in the workshop but need support to set up this software.

04 December 2014 - WHAT's UP Diego Maranan:

I Sing The Body Electric: Speculations on the Future of Internet-mediated Musical Creativity

In previous research Diego had done on dance styles from underground and urban subcultures, he argued that technology is changing the way humans dance and predicted that we will continue to see new technological metaphors translated into expressive movement vocabularies. For Cognovo Project 8, he aims to extend this argument by exploring how the Internet is changing patterns of artistic creativity. Focusing on music as the central creative activity, he will speculate on how the Internet will (if at all it does) influence creative cognition and behaviour in the near and far future. Diego will outline his current research strategy in this talk in order to invite feedback from the audience.

11 December 2014 - WHAT's UP Darya Zabelina:

Broad or Selective Attention in Creative Individuals? Neuroscientific Evidence

The work of Darya Zabelina and Mark Beeman refines the long-standing contention that "creative people" are generally more distractible or have leaky attention. They demonstrate that different types of creativity emphasize different types of attention. Specifically, people with real-world creative achievements may have leaky attention filters, while people who perform well on timed laboratory tests of divergent thinking (which are often used as a proxy for creative cognition) appear to have selective, yet flexible attention. Their behavioral and EEG experiments suggest that real-world creative achievers make more errors when switching levels of attention, show more interference from uncued levels of attention, and show less gating of sensory information as assessed by the P50 ERP, suggesting leaky attention. Conversely, divergent thinkers exhibit attentional flexibility on a selective attention task, and show more gating of sensory information, as assessed by the P50 ERP, suggesting selective attention. In addition to speaking about creative cognition research, Darya will also share her experience as a PhD student in Cognitive Neuroscience at Northwestern University.

08 January 2015 - WHAT's UP Rebecca Pearce and Martin Coath:

Welcome to Radio Cognovia

15 January 2015 - WHAT's UP Tara Zaksaite:

Creativity, Schizotypy and Blocking

Tara will give a brief and informal introduction into the design and findings of her second experiment, which was investigating blocking and its relationship with schizotypy and creativity.

22 January 2015 - WHAT's UP Guy Edmonds:

Ballet Mécanique - From Black and White to (Hand) Colour, a Restoration History

In this presentation, we explore different surviving versions and varying restoration approaches regarding one of the most canonical avant-garde film of the 1920s, Ballet Mécanique (1924). A defining work of avant-garde film, it is known to many people who have not even encountered it in its full form, rather just from photographs, as part of the oeuvre of Fernand Leger, or as part of the musical works of George Antheil. Those who have seen the film may know it from any different number of versions, most - but not all of them – in black and white. Based on a unique colour print surviving in the collections of EYE Film Institute, a more recent restoration was carried out in colour, and concepts and studies towards potential hand-applied, dye-chemical replication of its original hand-colouring were concurrently developed. In outlining the history of the film's multiple restorations, we highlight past developments, current approaches and future opportunities in colour restoration.

2 April 2015 - WHAT's UP Ilaria Torre and Diego Maranan:

"Green creativity": how to combine research with everyday practice?

Though CogNovo aims to be a leader in interdisciplinary research in creativity, the question remains open on how to practically implement creative solutions to everyday challenges. The challenge that we would like to talk about, and that is an important topic for us, is that of sustainability. How can we as individuals make a difference to the environment using creative strategies and through introducing new habits in our daily routines? We will share some of our practices with you, with the hope of breaking ground for longer lasting discussions on the topic.

14 May 2015 - WHAT's UP Ilaria Torre:

The effect of experience on trust attributions varies among British accents

Regional accents may affect initial judgements of personality traits, such as trustworthiness. We examined whether accents interact with behavioural patterns to modify initial trustworthiness attributions, using an iterated trust game in which participants make investments with virtual players, which are associated with two British English accents.

4 June 2015 - WHAT's UP Guy Edmonds:

'Otak-otak' or, A Cognovian in Jakarta.Guy Edmonds at the Sinematek Indonesia

Guy will recount details of his recent trip to Indonesia as film preservation special envoy and guest of the Europe on Screen film festival. Aside from contributing to public Q&A sessions, Guy also visited the Sinematek Indonesia where he exchanged knowledge with staff and experienced at first hand the challenging conditions of film archiving in the tropics.

10 June 2015 - WHAT's UP Sebastian Sumpf:

What is a Genode?

The Genode OS Framework is a tool kit for building highly secure special-purpose operating systems. It scales from embedded systems with as little as 4 MB of memory to highly dynamic general-purpose workloads.
Genode Labs, the company behind Genode OS, has spun off Technical University of Dresden a few years ago. Sebastian, who has been part of this start up since the beginning, can provide some insight on technical details as well as an overview on how a company can exists that is purely producing open source software. The whole session will be rather a chat than an actual presentation.

25 June 2015 - WHAT's UP Thomas R. Colin:

The challenge of interdisciplinary conferences

I will discuss interdisciplinarity at the conference Reinforcement Learning and Decision Making 2015 (RLDM 2015 for short), which I attended earlier this month. RLDM brings together the researchers interested in learning to act from experience. These researchers come from a variety of fields, including artificial intelligence, computational neuroscience, and cognitive psychology; their backgrounds and research methods vary considerably. I will give a rough interdisciplinary introduction to reinforcement learning. Then I will move on to a discussion of the difficulties of organizing an interdisciplinary conference. Can communication between scientific fields be productive? In what ways? What are the pitfalls of the exercise, important solutions, and potential improvements? This talk may be useful to those of us planning to organize or participate in interdisciplinary conferences - e.g. Off The Lip.

After RLDM, I took the chance to visit the Canadian Rocky Mountains around Banff and, stopping-over in Iceland on the way back, Reykjavik and the Snæfellsnes peninsula (for those not familiar with the area, it is located west of Borgarfjörður). I'll show a few pictures to those interested while everyone eats cake.

9 July 2015 - WHAT's UP Ivana Kajić:

Impressions of Japan: discovering the harmony of tradition and modernity

Konnichiwa! In this talk Ivana will first briefly talk about the summer school she attended in Okinawa and then she will take you on a journey through a country full of astonishing contrasts. The summer school in computational neuroscience is an annual event organised by the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology (OIST) and it gathers scientists in experimental and theoretical neuroscience. Ivana will explain why this is so important if we want to understand how our brains work, and tell you about what she learned and brought back to her PhD.

Then, she will tell you about her two week travels across the mainland Japan. We will start the journey in Hiroshima and hop along the cities on the eastern coast to end up in Tokyo, which she explored with another Cognovian. The story includes incredibly friendly people, big bright cities, amazing (and less amazing) food, random welcoming strangers, beautiful nature and high-tech toirets.
Despite her best efforts she did not manage to eat all the sweets she brought from Japan, so there will be some matcha daifuku mochi (first come first served!) and green tea (if we manage to decipher the preparation instructions).

16 July 2015 - WHAT's UP Tara Zaksaite:

Models of associative learning: a brief introduction

How are we able to learn associations between events and outcomes? What determines how fast we will learn these associations? How will this change throughout the course of learning? Associative learning models have attempted to answer these questions. This talk will give a brief introduction to some of the most influential models of associative learning from a Psychology perspective.

23 July 2015 - WHAT's UP Thomas R. Colin:

Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning as Creative Problem Solving

Thomas has been writing an article for a special issue of Robotics and Autonomous Systems on Creative Robotics. The resulting article is interdisciplinary in nature and summarizes his first year of research in CogNovo, covering the following topics:
  1. Defining creativity in a way that directs and fosters useful research
  2. A review of the psychology of insight
  3. Using techniques from Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning to produce insight
A journal abstract is below. Thomas is looking for constructive remarks, alternative opinions and criticism – please join in for an interactive and stimulating discussion!

Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning as Creative Problem Solving Although creativity is studied from philosophy to cognitive robotics, its definition has proven elusive. We argue for putting emphasis on the creative process (cognition of the creative agent) rather than the creative product (the artefact or behavior). Owing to developments in experimental psychology, the process approach has become an increasingly attractive way to characterizing creative problem solving. In particular, the phenomenon of insight, in which an individual arrives at a solution through a sudden change in perspective, is a crucial component of the process of creativity.
These developments resonate with some recent advances in machine learning, such as the hierarchical and modular approaches to machine learning, as the field of artificial intelligence aims for general solutions to problems that typically rely on creativity in humans or other animals. We draw a parallel between the properties of insight according to psychology (impasse, problem representation and representational change, and full insight), and the properties of Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning systems. Using the Creative Systems Framework developed by Wiggins and Ritchie, we analyze the domain of an embodied agent interacting with its environment in the course of its lifetime. We highlight the key challenges to be met in order to call an artificial system «insightful».

15 October 2015 - WHAT's UP Kathryn B. Francis and Lucy Davies:

Voice for Radio CogNovia?

Radio CogNovo is back in business! With the upcoming ESRC Social Science Festival (taking place in November) we want to create some interesting podcasts of interviews and discussions to broadcast during the week, along with the events themselves. We are also looking for some mix tapes and/or hour long programmes of both music and discussion of selections, based on a theme chosen to fit with the festival. This will be a chance to boost our public engagement: do you have a voice for radio and would like to get your own research, viewpoints or creations ‘out there’? Come along to find out about the festival, themes and how to get involved

10 March 2016 - WHAT's UP Tara Zaksaite:

Redundancy effect: gaze latency for blocked and uncorrelated cues

In blocking, reduced learning is seen for a stimulus added to a separately trained stimulus-outcome association. A different type of non-informative cue, here referred to as an uncorrelated cue, is seen when a particular cue paired with stimulus one is associated with an outcome but paired with stimulus two is associated with the absence of an outcome. This talk will present the findings of two experiments that used the eye-tracking method to compare gaze latencies between these two types of non-informative cue.

17 March 2016 - WHAT's UP Vaibhav Tyagi and Frank Loesche:

Data collection in southern USA

Vaibhav and Frank recently visited the University of Georgia (UGA) to collect some data for a study in collaboration with Mark Runco. For the time they had offices in the College of Education, more specifically at the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development. In their WHAT's UP they will touch on the subject of the study, but will primarily focus on the administrative aspects such as how to settle in and recruit a (local) record-breaking number of participants in a short time in a previously unknown location. The talk will be concluded by some travel pictures from Georgia and Florida.

24 March 2016 - WHAT's UP David Sergeant:

Thinking through Space in Fiction

Narrative is, by its very nature, temporal, but it also entails the thinking of space: but what kind of work does space do in texts? Space in fiction is often treated by critics as a referential entity to be interpreted thematically and historically, when it is noticed at all; this talk, however, will speculate about how spatiality in narrative might also function as a cognitive tool that can be used to make meaning, with a complexity and sophistication that has frequently been underestimated, and which invites comparison and collaboration with other fields of research and creative practice. The Dalai Lama, the somatosensory cortex, global environmental crisis, and medieval mysticism will all get at least a mention.

31 March 2016 - WHAT's UP Thomas R. Colin:

Artificial Creativity or the Exploration of Immense Rugged Landscapes

Some animals, including humans, solve insight problems not by systematic trial-and-error but by apparent strokes of genius characterized by a sudden change in representation and strategy. I study this phenomenon alternatively from the perspective of psychology - "What goes on during insight?" - and artificial intelligence (AI) - "How should an agent solve insight problems?". The limitations of reinforcement learning techniques for large and rugged problem landscapes are discussed, and solutions from other AI subdisciplines are presented. Finally, I describe the option-critic method (Bacon and Precup) as a promising method for discovering and exploiting the structure of whichever problem the creative agent is facing. I close the disciplinary loop (psychology→AI→psychology) by relating properties of hierarchical reinforcement learning with human and animal insightful behaviour.
Following questions and discussion about the above topic, those interested are welcome to stay and talk about my recent nine-week visit at Rich Sutton’s RLAI lab at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. What do the reinforcement learning people care about at the moment? How does an interdisciplinary PhD student fit in a focused and theoretically inclined unidisciplinary group? What are some strategies for creating such opportunities and making the most out of them?

14 April 2016 - WHAT's UP Sue Denham and Michael Punt:

Creativity, and Cognitive Innovation: A View from the Bridge

Our presentation proceeds from an understanding of cognitive innovation as a collaborative concept that is valuable for the sciences, arts and humanities. The idea of cognitive innovation embraces an understanding that is not exclusively concerned with conscious human thought and action but is also intrinsic to cognitive development. As a consequence, we see the possibility for cognitive innovation to provide a theoretical and practical platform from which to explore deep disciplinary differences in how we think about (and investigate) creativity. By juxtaposing our contrasting perspectives in true transdisciplinary fashion we hope to reveal unexpected connections that lead to new insights and stimulating discussions on creativity in anticipation of the final CogNovo workshop.

5 May 2016 - WHAT's UP Nicole Robinson:

Imagery Training To Promote Healthy Eating and Glycemic Control: Trial of A Robotic Intervention

The proposed project involves using a NAO robot to deliver a version of Functional Imagery Training that will focus on decreasing episodes of unregulated high sugar snacking for adolescents with type 1 diabetes. This study will focus on improving glycemic control through decreasing unregulated high sugary snack intake (deviance from dietary/insulin regimen between meals), improving motivation and self-efficacy for change, and aims to improve HbA1c levels.
Nicole Robinson is a visiting researcher from the School of Psychology and Counselling, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) & Centre for Children’s Health Research (CCHR) in Brisbane (Australia).

9 June 2016 - WHAT's UP Mihaela Taranu:

Searching for the role of the parietal cortex in visual and auditory multistability

Multistable perception is experienced when conscious perception alternates between different interpretations of an unchanging sensory input. Although there is a lot of evidence for alternation-related neural activity early in the visual/auditory hierarchy, higher-level brain regions have also been implicated in alternations; understanding the role of these higher-level regions may reveal how top-down processes modulate conscious perception (Alais & Blake, 2015). Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), previous studies have suggested that parietal cortex plays at least two roles in visual bistable perception: within superior parietal cortex, disrupting the activity of an anterior locus caused an increase in the rate of perceptual alternations (Carmel, Walsh, Lavie & Rees, 2010; Kanai, Carmel, Bahrami & Rees, 2011), whereas disruption of a posterior locus led to a decrease in the rate of alternations (Kanai, Bahrami & Rees, 2010).We studied the effects of TMS applied to the same brain regions on auditory streaming, a multistable perceptual phenomenon, to which TMS has never been applied before. In separate blocks, thirty participants were presented with auditory streaming as well as rotating sphere stimuli, both of which had three possible interpretations. They were instructed to continuously mark their perception before and after theta-burst TMS stimulation (a protocol known to disrupt brain activity for 15-20 minutes). In separate sessions, three sites were stimulated: the anterior and posterior superior parietal locations and the vertex (control location). We found no significant effects of rTMS on perceptual alternations for either modality. These results raise a multitude of questions, including task related concerns regarding differences between bistability and multistability, the impact of different methodologies and research designs employed in previous studies compared to ours, as well as theoretical questions regarding the neural circuitry involved in perceptual switching.

Mihaela is going to talk about the paper she is going to present at #ASSC20 and which was authored by "Taranu, M.1, Winkler, I. 2, van Ee, R. 3, 4, 5,Farkas, D.2, Wimmer, M.1, Denham, S.L.1, Carmel, D".

23 June 2016 - WHAT's UP Emmanuel Senft:

Learning of Action Selection for Social Human Robot Interaction

The Wizard-of-Oz is a widely used methodology to control robots in Human-Robot Interaction. The method relies on a human teleoperator controlling the robot and deciding what action the robot will execute. This typically places a high burden of effort and attention on the human supervisor to ensure appropriate robot behaviour, which may distract from other aspects of the task engaged in. We argue that we should move away from Wizard-of-Oz and we propose a novel method to allow a robot to behave appropriately in human-robot interaction. By combining online machine learning and supervised autonomy, we aim to achieve a high quality of interaction at every step and progressively increase the robot’s autonomy: Supervised Progressively Autonomous Robot Competencies (SPARC). We present experiments conducted to explore the potential of this method as well as future work to validate this approach as a real alternative to Wizard of Oz in robot assisted therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder.

21 July 2016 - WHAT's UP Kathryn B. Francis, Christos Melidis, Ilaria Torre, Tara Zaksaite:

ColLaboratoire progress update

With less than one month to go until ColLaboratoire, CogNovo's summer school, we would like to update our fellow CogNovians on the state of the works. We have been working hard to put together a programme from scratch and would like to share this with you. This will include our exciting social events that we will have during that week and how you can get to take part in it.

8 February 2017 - Coding Lunch Ilaria Torre and Frank Loesche:

Tutorial: From data and markdown to camera-ready paper

Frank and Ilaria gave a tutorial on how to utilise the "literate programming" approach to produce reproducible research and academic writing, particularly in the fields of Psychology. Specifically, they showed how to use it in conjunction with the easy markup languages "Markdown" and "RMarkdown", illustrating it on examples of an academic manuscript and a journal article. In their workshop they explained how to get from "raw" text and data directly to to a final paper formatted according to a publisher's template.
The slides and material used in the presentation can be downloaded from their github repository and they remain available for any questions and discussion of problems with this approach.

16 February 2017 - WHAT's UP Yaniv Hanoch:

Lessons I have learned from being on the faculty hiring committee.

16 March 2017 - Frank Loesche:

Data Workflow or The Restaurant at the End of the tidyverse

Data manipulation is at the core of any data analysis. In this workshop Frank will show some basic data loading, manipulation, and visualisation tricks. The workflow will be based on the {Import -> Tidy -> {Transform -> Visualise -> Model} -> Communicate} workflow. Based on the tidyverse packages, he will explain some best practices on how to handle data.
The slides and material used in the presentation are available on the github repository.