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· 19 November 2018 ·

How infants use communicative signals

Last month I submitted my PhD at the Lancaster University. As part of the LuCiD project, I investigated how infants use communicative signals, such as addressing a child by looking at them or speaking to them in so-called infant-directed speech changes. According to Natural Pedagogy, a widely discussed theory in developmental psychology, infants come to this world with a basic sensitivity towards signals that tell them that they are communicated with—and expect that adults engaging with them will show them something meaningful to learn and apply in other contexts. The first two studies that I did as part of my PhD looked at how addressing children before showing them an action increases children’s expectation that these actions are meaningful using EEG and eye tracking. For example, children expect an adult to put a spoon to the mouth, rather than the ear. But does looking and addressing children raise their expectation that the spoon should go to the mouth?

However, there is also another way that communicative signals can be useful in action learning. An important aspect of learning an action is understanding how to break it up into small chunks that can be made sense of. Read the full article over at the Lucid Research Blog

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· 24 February 2013 ·

Why do journals provide broken BibTeX files?

I have already written about my love for BibTeX and BibDesk for referencing. One of the best things about it is that you can often fetch bibliographic information straight from the journal’s websites, Google Scholar or other sources.

However, whilst this is great most of the time, there are many cases where journals are delivering broken BibTeX that BibDesk cannot parse, or that are just not well formed. What’s following is a brief rant on journal’s low quality BibTeX download and a few general observations.

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· 15 April 2012 ·

Baseline testosterone in hunter-gatherer societies: Actually not that high.

A recent article by Trumble et al. (2012) investigates testosterone levels in the Tsimane, hunter-gatherer society in the Bolivian Amazon. They organised a competitive football match between eight different Tsimane villages (Seriously, how cool is that – organising a football match as part of your research?), tested testosterone levels of the (male) players men before and after a match and compared these to testosterone levels in an age-matched male US sample. The authors have two key-findings: On the one hand, both groups show increased testosterone levels in a competitive football match. On the other hand, baseline testosterone levels are lower in the Tsimane.

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· 13 October 2011 ·

"I am not going to read your diatribe!"

Paul Feyerabend was one of Popper’s earliest students and followers, but soon turned to criticise Popper’s theories vigorously. Neither of them were shy of words when criticising colleagues’ works, nor would they try to conceal their criticism. Feyerabend recalls the following dialogue:

“‘I am not going to read your diatribe!’ Popper had shouted when he saw my [Paul Feyerabend’s – Antipattern] comments on his diatribe against Bohr. (He calmed down when I told him that many people had complained about my aggressive style and had ascribed it to his influence. ‘Is that so?’ he said, smiling, and walked away.)” (in: Feyerabend 1995, p. 146)

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· 9 July 2010 ·

Fear, Faces and the Amygdala

Brain imaging techniques such as CT, fMRI and EEG have revolutionised psychology. They are indeed exciting technologies that can offer insights into the way our brain works. And thus, scientific columns in newspapers regularly report that a behaviour or perception can be linked to a certain brain area. The idea is that if we know that if a brain area is active during a certain task that is otherwise not, it is involved in the process, or, if a brain area is defective and with it specific cognitive functions, then these are linked, too. But things are not as simple. (They never are) Just because an area is active during a cognitive process does not necessarily tell you what it actually does.

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