Institut Jean Nicod

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The “Perception Group” is a discussion group that put the emphasis on innovative ideas in philosophy and cognitive psychology of perception. The group receives master and PhD students as well as postdocs and researchers to present and discuss their work.

The seminar takes place every Monday from 10am to 12am, at the Institut Jean Nicod (Pavillon Jardin, 29 rue d’Ulm, Paris 05) in the seminar room (ground floor).


Advisor : Roberto Casati (DR, CNRS)

Next sessions  :

February 18th : Brent Strickland (Post-doc, Yale)

Core knowledge operates automatically and tacitly in adults : Three case studies

"Core cognition" is typically studied in the context of infancy research examining early emerging physical, social or numerical knowledge (Spelke & Kinzler, 2007). This work emphasizes the bootstrapping function that innate knowledge serves in guiding early learning. However core cognition also continues to operate automatically and often tacitly into adulthood and in ways that can be at odds with other aspects of adult cognition. Here I present three novel demonstrations of such effects, and use these results to argue for a new model of core cognition’s place in cognitive architecture. A first line of research shows that the adult visual system automatically categorizes physical events into discrete types (e.g. containment, occlusion, covering, etc..) and uses these representations to guide attention in a way that directly mirrors recently observed results in pre-verbal infants. A second line of research shows that just as pre-verbal infants appear to automatically infer the presence of unseen causes in collision events, so too can such inferences cause adults to falsely remember having seen a (visually absent but implied) collision. Importantly however, these two examples suggest differing classes of core physical knowledge : one class which is deeply embedded in visual processing and another which operates purely at the conceptual level. A final experiment directly tests the idea that there may be two categorically different types of core knowledge by examining the cognitive penetrability of the solidity and continuity constraints in an adult object detection task. The findings suggest that while the use of the solidity principle is heavily influenced by learned probabilities and statistics (suggestive of a conceptual representation), the use of the continuity principle appears to be guided by a visual reflex that is not sensitive to such probabilities. Taken as a whole, the findings presented here suggest that core knowledge structures the on-line operation of a wide range of adult mental faculties such as memory and perception, and that its study in adulthood can shed new light on cognitive architecture.


Passed Sessions :

October 1st : Joulia Smortchkova (PhD Student, IJN) and Elvira Di Bona (PhD Student, IJN) presented and criticized Susanna Siegel’s phenomenal contrast method.

October 8th : Nicolas Porot (M2, Cogmaster) proposed an experimental design in order to test the perception of causality in static pictures.

October 15th : Valeria Mongelli (M1, Cogmaster) discussed about perception during (maritime) navigation.

October 22nd : Brice Bantegnie (PhD Student, IJN) put forward a definition of common sense.

November 5th : Julie Fontaine (PhD Student, IJN) argued against the analogy between perception and intuition.

November 19th : Sandro Pignocchi (Postdoc, IJN) : TBA

November 26th : François Le Corre (PhD Student, IJN) will discuss the traditional assumption according to which our sensory modalities are separate modalities.

December 10th : Clare Mac Cumhaill (Postdoc, Swiss Center for Affective Sciences) : Clare provided a candidate so as to explain what does it mean to say that something is ‘invisible’. According to her account, something counts as ‘invisible’ when one sees or seems to see the entirety of the region it occupies. Something can be said to ‘look invisible’ when one sees that region.

December 17th : Elvira Di Bona (PhD Student, IJN) : Elvira focused on the notion of auditory timber in order to answer to the following question : Is it possible to hear sound as well as the thing which made it ? She argued that once we have distinguished two components of sound sources : the event source and the thing source, and once we have defined sounds as mind-independent objects, distally located at their sources – there is a way to hear sound sources directly. According to her account, we directly hear the source of a sound by virtue of the perception of timbre, the audible quality which lets us perceive the material constitution of the source. 

January 14th : Nicolas Porot (Master Student, COGMASTER, IJN) : Nicolas presented his theoretical and experimental work this semester preparing for his M2 internship next semester. 

January 21st : Roberto Casati (DR, CNRS, IJN) :
Heterogeneous Cognition

February 4th : Roberto Casati (DR, CNRS, IJN) : 
Knots : from mathematics to cognition - Blueprint for the cognitive anthropology of knotting practices

February 11th : Ancuta Mortu (PhD Student, CRAL) : 
Steps towards multisensory aesthetic processing