Colloquia Series 2017-18

February 5, 2018

Speaker:  Dr. Nelson Cowan,Curators Distinguished Professor of Psychology,University of Missouri-Columbia

Ttitle: Working memory capacity examined from three perspectives: Converging evidence from cognition, neuroimaging, and child development

Abstract:  Working memory is the small amount of information held temporarily and used to carry out a wide range of mental functions, including planning, problem-solving, and language comprehension and production. After many years of working memory research, there still is considerable disagreement as to why working memory capacity is limited, and how that limit affects thinking ability. By focusing on these key questions across methodological areas, I have found that different methods make complementary contributions to our understanding. Behavioral cognitive research provides the target behavior to be explained, neuroimaging contributes clues to the mechanism, and child development provides and understanding of how adult capability is constructed from its most basic elements. I will describe a view in which working memory is driven by a focus of attention that users like to keep unencumbered as much as possible, by relying on the rest of the memory system.

Time and Location:  12pm - 1pm; UTM Council Chambers Room DV 3130

November 6, 2017

Speaker:  Justin M. Carré, Ph.D, Associate ProfessorDepartment of Psychology, Nipissing University

Ttitle: Does testosterone increase human aggression? A psychopharmacogenetic approach

Abstract:  Acute changes in testosterone (T) during competitive interactions may serve to fine-tune ongoing and/or subsequent aggressive behaviour. Recent work suggests that individual difference factors (e.g., self-construal, trait dominance) moderate the relationship between T dynamics and human aggression. In this talk, I will discuss two pharmacological challenge experiments investigating the extent to which a single application of T rapidly potentiates aggressive behaviour in healthy young men (n = 120, Exp 1; n = 400, Exp 2) and whether this effect depends on personality/cultural factors and/or genetic variation of the androgen receptor..

Time and Location:  12pm - 1pm; UTM Council Chambers Room DV 3130

October 2, 2017

Speaker: Kamila Szulc-Lerch, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Hospital for Sick Kids Toronto

Title: Imaging the developing brain: Growth, injury & repair

Abstract: A key issue in childhood brain injury are the late effects on cognitive and related psychological function. Dr. Szulc-Lerch will illustrate this based on her studies of children with brain tumours and mouse models of radiation induced brain injury and cerebral palsy. She will also discuss new evidence showing that some of the acquired brain injury can be ameliorated by pharmacological (metformin) and lifestyle interventions (physical exercise) in both mice and humans.

Time and Location:  12pm - 1pm; UTM Faculty Club

September 25, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Scott Johnson, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles 

Title: Social attention in infancy

Social attention is the process of perceiving visual features that specify conspecifics and other animate entities, and it is vital to our ability to observe, understand, and participate in social interactions. Research on infant perception of faces and biological motion has revealed early-developing biases to attend to social information that are shaped by experience. Hence a currently popular view is that innate preferences for faces and biological motion become tuned to specific features of social content that are present in the infant’s immediate social environment, facilitating rapid identification and categorization of social information that is most relevant and appropriate for social interactions. This talk will present recent and new work—on face detection in cluttered scenes, attention to own- and other-race faces, and perception of social categories in biological motion—that is difficult to accommodate by this view, and raises important questions about the role of experience in shaping infants’ social attention.  Broader implications for theories of social development will be discussed.

Time and Location:  12pm - 1:30pm; UTM Faculty Club


More information:
Jodie Stewart (