Centre for Cognitive Science (COGS)


COGS Seminars provide a forum for internationally recognised researchers from all corners of cognitive science research to present and discuss their latest findings. All are welcome to attend.

Autumn 2019

Tuesdays 16:00-17:30


Oct 8   

Can consciousness extend?
Karina Vold

Abstract: Andy Clark and David Chalmers both maintain that while non-conscious mental states and processes can ‘extend’ to be partially constituted by objects located beyond one’s brain and body, phenomenally conscious states are entirely in one’s brain. Until recently they have given the same reasons for denying extended consciousness, which I’ve previously argued against, but Chalmers (2019) has since revised his reasons for denying extended consciousness. In this paper I critically examine these new reasons and ultimately defend the possibility of extended consciousness.

Pevensey 1 2A2 

Oct 22   

The Functional Anatomy Of Goal-Belief Ascriptions
Simon McGregor

Abstract: The notions of belief and desire are indispensible to folk psychology; while they do not exhaust the range of important mental attributions that we can make to systems, they - or constructs resembling them - are arguably the most fundamental. But we do not know how to accommodate them within the language of the physical sciences. Starting only with a mathematical description of the structure and dynamics of some physical system, how does one determine whether the system possesses beliefs and desires (and, if so, what they are)? Despite a lot of hand-waving by cognitive scientists, the ultimate problem still seems intractable.

One approach to this impasse is to see agentive language as part of an theorist's explanatory strategy (Dennett's intentional stance), and explore what relations must hold between the theorist and a system to warrant the use of the intentional stance. This talk will introduce a thought experiment, involving a hypothetical theorist who predicts the behaviour of a mysterious blob; and will argue that certain easy-to-state circumstances would lead an intelligent scientist to invent goal-like and belief-like explanatory concepts if they did not previously possess them. In particular, goal-like explananses arise naturally from `consequence-backward' reasoning, and belief-like explananses then arise from additional assumptions about causal locality.

Fulton 114

Nov 5

Music, the brain and the analysis of spatio-temporal correlations and information flow in and between brains of musicians and audience.
Henrik Jensen

Abstract: First we discuss general fractal and critical aspects of the brain as indicated by recent fMRI analysis. We then turn to the analysis of EEG signals from the brain of musicians and listeners during performance of improvised and non-improvised classical music. We are interested in differences between the response to the two different ways of playing music. We use complexity measures and measures of information flow to try to pin point differences in the structure of the network constituted by all the EEG electrodes of all musicians and listeners.

Results are discussed in terms of their potential support for an “improvisatory state of mind” which may have aspects of flow and primary states. In a group setting, such as a live concert, our evidence suggests that this state of mind is communicable between performers and audience thus contributing to a heightened quality of shared experience.

Reference: David Dolan, Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen, Pedro Martinez-Mediano, Miguel Molina-Solana, Hardik Rajpal, Fernando Rosas, John Anthony Sloboda, The improvisational state of mind: a multidisciplinary study of an improvisatory approach to classical music repertoire performance. Front. Psychol., 25 September 2018   https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01341

Chichester3 3R143

Nov 19

Designing effective behaviour change apps
Anna Cox

Abstract: ‘Health and fitness’ is one of the most popular categories in the apple and google app stores. Despite the plethora of products promising to help us move more, eat less, and engage in practices to support our mental health, we’ve seen little evidence of any impact on our nation’s health. Instead, our phones are full of apps that we abandoned and there’s no sign of our behaviour changing. Arguing for a multi-disciplinary approach combining methods, theories and knowledge from Behaviour Change and Human-Computer Interaction, Professor Anna Cox will describe a number of case studies which illustrate the weaknesses in the design of these technologies and her current research exploring how we can improve the design of these apps. She hopes to discuss with the audience what the future of behaviour change technologies may be.

Bramber BH 255

Dec 3

Mr Market on the Couch; Introducing the Market Mind Hypothesis, the Final Frontier of Behavioural Finance
Patrick Schotanus

Abstract: This presentation introduces the Market Mind Hypothesis (MMH). MMH pushes the respective boundaries of both the extended/distributed mind theory and behavioural finance. Popularly speaking, MMH recognises that Mr Market has a mind, warts and all. In simple terms, MMH formalises what investors have always casually referred to as "the market's mind", including its relationship to the real (physical) economy which showed a dangerous tail-wagging-the-dog dynamic during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). More technically, MMH states that the market, embodying interacting conscious investors and their technologies, not only distributes their knowledge but also intersubjectively extends their minds, thereby manifesting collective consciousness. Prices form the signatures of this, while market mood is its phenomenal experience. Unfortunately, Mr Market has not been healthy for a while and neither has the wider economic community of which he is part (exemplified by excessive debt, negative yields, and flash crashes). The key cause is, simultaneously, also mainstream economics' "true problem": not recognising, let alone addressing economics' "hard problem". Specifically, driven by physics envy its mechanical "equilibrium" paradigm views and treats (e.g. via monetary policies) the economy as a machine, the market as an automaton, and humans as robots. In short, mainstream economics has made a flawed ontological commitment that is becoming very expensive. This is particularly relevant in light of the almost uncritical embracement of AI and other automation, but also in the context of ESG investing. The presentation will cover this, as well as numerous other topics, including historic origins, Lehman's Lesson, price discovery, and the projects (to be) hosted on our MMH Research Platform, a unique collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and COGS, supported by the Edinburgh Futures Institute. What should be most interesting to cognitive scientists with empirical research ambitions is the enormous amount of 'group mind' data that is just waiting to be explored from the mind-body perspective.

Jubilee 118



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