Broad Area Colloquium For AI-Geometry-Graphics-Robotics-Vision
(CS 528)

Development and Disintegration of Conceptual Knowledge A case study in Mind, Brain, and Computation

James L, McClelland
Professor of Psychology
Director, Center for Mind, Brain and Computation
Stanford University

May 14, 2007, 4:15PM
TCSeq 200


Over the past several years my collaborators and I have been developing a model of conceptual knowledge representation that attempts to address the development of conceptual knowledge in childhood, the nature of adult conceptual knowledge representation, and the disintegration of conceptual knowledge in a specific brain disorder known as .semantic dementia.. In this talk I will briefly describe some of the key phenomena in developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience that have attracted our attention. These include differentiation of conceptual knowledge and transitory overgeneralization or .illusory correlations. on the developmental side, and a set of parallel phenomena that occur in semantic dementia: Progressive loss of differentiation, and the re-emergence of overgeneralization and illusory correlations. I will then describe a computational framework for modeling these phenomena, based on principles of parallel distributed processing and on what we know about the areas involved in semantic cognition in the brain. In discussion I will consider how the PDP approach might be seen as providing the neural instantiation of an approximation to a Bayesian model of category learning and representation.

About the Speaker

James L. (Jay) McClelland received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975. He served on the faculty of the University of California, San Diego, before moving to Carnegie Mellon in 1984, where he was a founding Co-Director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a joint project of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. In 2006 he moved to Stanford University, where he is now Professor of Psychology and the founding Director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Computation. Over his career, McClelland has contributed to both the experimental and theoretical literatures, most notably in the application of connectionist/parallel distributed processing models to problems in perception, cognitive development, language learning, and the neurobiology of memory. He was a co-founder with David E. Rumelhart of the Parallel Distributed Processing research group, and together with Rumelhart he led the effort leading to the publication in 1986 of the two-volume book, Parallel Distributed Processing, in which the parallel distributed processing framework was laid out and applied to a wide range of topics in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. McClelland and Rumelhart jointly received the 1996 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association and several other awards for their pioneering work in this area. McClelland is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and he has received the APS William James Fellow Award for lifetime contributions to the basic science of psychology. McClelland currently teaches cognitive neuroscience and conducts research on learning, memory, conceptual development, spoken language, decision making, and semantic cognition.


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