Cognitive Science Colloquia


Cognitive Science Colloquia are held* throughout the year and consist of seminars/talks given by invited speakers from various universities, as well as seminars by the METU staff or our own PhD students. The Colloquia aim to share information on cognitive science research, as well as promote academic research and collaboration. The seminars are open to anyone interested and provide an opportunity for our students to keep up with the recent research conducted in the field, allowing them to observe how research topics develop through academic exchange.

* Unless it is announced otherwise, seminars take place every Friday at 12:40, in the Informatics Institute (room II-03), METU.

For past years' colloquia, please visit here.




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This Year (2018-2019)



Fall Semester


Type of expression and type of reference in a layered DRT
by Ceyhan Temürcü (Cognitive Science, METU)
on 4th of January

Abstract In this talk I will describe A-DRT, which is a multi-layered DRT and use it (i) to distinguish type of reference (explicit vs. implicit reference) from type of expression (presupposition vs. new information) (ii) to evaluate approaches that identify semantics with truth-conditional interpretation, and (iii) contribute to our understanding of presupposition and inference.


Multi-word expressions, meaning, and compositionality
by Cem Bozşahin (Cognitive Science, METU)
on 21st of December

Abstract Multi-word expressions, verb-particle constructions, idiomatically combining phrases, and phrasal idioms have something in common: not all of their elements contribute to the argument structure of the predicate implicated by the expression. Radically lexicalized theories of grammar that avoid string-, term-, logical form-, and tree-writing, and categorial grammars that avoid wrap operation, make predictions about the categories involved in verb-particles and phrasal idioms. They may require singleton types, which can only substitute for one value, not just for one kind of value. These types are asymmetric: they can be arguments only. They also narrowly constrain the kind of semantic value that can correspond to such syntactic categories. Idiomatically combining phrases do not subcategorize for singleton types, and they exploit another locally computable and compositional property of a correspondence, that every syntactic expression can project its head word. Such MWEs can be seen as empirically realized categorial possibilities rather than lacuna in a theory of lexicalizable syntactic categories.


Lexical Inference in Turkish Emphatic Reduplication
by Özkan Kılıç (Cognitive Science, METU)
on 7th of December

Abstract Turkish Emphatic Reduplication (TER) occurs in adjectives and adverbs to accentuate their meanings (e.g., beyaz --> bembeyaz). TER is viewed as a purely phonological operation, and often used as an example in Optimality Theory and Morphological Doubling Theory. Despite the theory and the phonological rules for the selection of linker type in TER, variations do occur. For example, ci-r-il-ciplak, ci-s-ciplak, ci-r-ciplak, ci-p-ciplak and ci-m-ciplak will show up in web searches. In this study, 42 university students are asked to reduplicate 19 adjectives, 19 nouns, 19 verbs and 19 pseudowords of the from CVCCVC. Their answers, eye-tracking data and reaction times are analyzed. The results indicate that there is a lexical interference in TER.


Visual perception of actions: An interdisciplinary work between cognitive neuroscience and social robotics
by Burcu Ayşen Ürgen (Psychology, Bilkent University)
on 23rd of November

Abstract Successfully recognizing the actions of others is of utmost importance for the survival of many species. For humans, action perception is considered to support important higher order social skills, such as communication, intention understanding and empathy, some of which may be uniquely human. Over the last two decades, neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies in primates have identified a network of regions in occipito-temporal, parietal and premotor cortex that are associated with perception of actions, known as the Action Observation Network. Despite a growing body of literature, the functional properties of this network remain largely unknown. We take a multi-modal, interdisciplinary, and computational approach to characterize the functional properties of this network in humans. To this end, we 1) collaborated with a robotics lab to vary various aspects of actions including visual appearance and movement kinematics of the agents, 2) used a wide range of brain measurement modalities (fMRI and EEG) together with state-of-the-art analytical techniques including representational similarity analysis, computer vision, and clustering to investigate the neural processing while human subjects performed action perception tasks. While our findings improve our understanding of the Action Observation Network, the interdisciplinary work with robotics also allows us to address questions regarding human factors in artificial agent design in social robotics and human-robot interaction such as uncanny valley, which is concerned with what kind of agents we should design so that humans can easily accept them as social partners.


Introducing METU Language and Cognitive Development Lab
by Duygu Özge (Cognitive Science, METU)
on 16th of November

Abstract I will give an overview of some major research questions in the field of language/cognitive development and their significance for cognitive science, followed by a summary of research projects we run in our emerging METU Language and Cognitive Development Lab.


Object detection through search with a foveated visual system
by Emre Akbaş (Computer Engineering, METU)
on 2nd of November

Abstract In this talk, I will present a foveated object detector (FOD) as a biologically-inspired alternative to the sliding window (SW) approach which is the dominant method of search in computer vision object detection. Similar to the human visual system, the FOD has higher resolution at the fovea and lower resolution at the visual periphery. Consequently, more computational resources are allocated at the fovea and relatively fewer at the periphery. The FOD processes the entire scene, uses retino-specific object detection classifiers to guide eye movements, aligns its fovea with regions of interest in the input image and integrates observations across multiple fixations. Our approach combines object detectors from computer vision with a recent model of peripheral pooling regions found at the V1 layer of the human visual system. We assessed various eye movement strategies on the PASCAL VOC 2007 dataset and show that the FOD performs on par with the SW detector while bringing significant computational cost savings.


Perspectives on the processing debate in reading
by Cengiz Acartürk (Cognitive Science, METU)
on 19th of October

Abstract Reading has been subject to intermittent research periods since the 1920s. Several computations models have been proposed since past decade, which have resulted in an intense debate on the interaction between oculomotor processes, lexical access and visual attention. From the perspective of general visual cognition, reading provides a prolific test bed -compared to object perception- due to its relatively systematic structure on the stimuli side. On the other hand, there is no consensus on the processes that guide reading recently. This talk will present the experience of the Reading Research Group in the Cognitive Science Program on reading in Turkish, since the past four years. I will present an instance of how theoretical frameworks drive data collection and how they lead to novel experimental paradigms through a set of examples in the reading debate.


Discourse annotation: A multi-lingual approach
by Deniz Zeyrek (Cognitive Science, METU)
on 12th of October

Abstract Linguistic annotation means adding informative information to texts and annotated texts are ultimately inputs to language technology applications. Linguistic annotation of language resources has become a science, encompassing methods of annotation for the design of the corpus, annotation creation, physical format considerations, evaluation, etc. Discourse is a unit above the sentence level and can be analyzed in terms of several kinds of patterning including but not limited to discourse relations. Discourse relations are a level in discourse associated with the semantic relations (contrast, condition, expansion, etc.) that hold among text segments (clauses or groups of clauses). After introducing the basic concepts of linguistic annotation, I will talk about a recent initiative on annotating the transcripts of TED talks that involve several languages (Turkish, English, Portuguese, German and Russian). Our initiative involves annotating discourse relations across texts. I will explain the annotation procedure and describe the corpus along with implications on our understanding of discourse.