Homage to Aaron Sloman, Winner of the 2020 APA K. Jon Barwise Prize

Last month, Professor Aaron Sloman was awarded the 2020 K. Jon Barwise Prize which recognizes “significant and sustained contributions to areas relevant to philosophy and computing by an APA member. The prize will serve to credit those within our profession for their life long efforts in this field.”

Aaron Sloman university Birmingham
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Can Your Bedtime Thinking Keep You Awake? Or Help You Fall Asleep?

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As an undergraduate student in psychology, on Sunday evenings I sometimes had trouble falling asleep.

In my third year, I was introduced to (and fell in love with) theoretical AI-driven cognitive science. I learned that Professor Claude Lamontagne had devised a computational theory of visual motion perception, from which he rigorously predicted an entirely new class of visual illusions. (By rigorously, I mean that his computer simulation of visual motion perception evinced these illusions: Sigma smooth pursuit eye movements). Lamontagne not only had a theory, he demonstrated the potential of theoretical AI for psychology. If you deeply understand a system, you may be able to predict new phenomena and also manipulate the system, and perhaps even trick it. (Sadly, rather than focusing on Lamontagne’s theory of visual motion perception, empirical psychologists latched onto Lamontagne’s Sigma effect merely as an experimental paradigm, which became a little empirical cottage industry. If you are interested in computational psychology, you must read Lamontagne’s thesis. It is a masterpiece.)

Lamontagne’s work led me to ask myself, “if I understood how the brain controls sleep onset, could I devise thought patterns that would help me fall asleep?” So, I would try to form a model of the system, informally derive hypotheses from it, test them on myself, use the data to try to improve my understanding, and iterate.

Fast forward many moons: my colleagues and I conducted the first systematic literature review on sleep onset mentation, which was published in Sleep Medicine Reviews last month: Lemyre, A., Belzile, F., Landry, M., Bastien, C., & Beaudoin, L. P. (2020). Pre-sleep cognitive activity in adults: A systematic review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 50, 1-13.

To help the general public understand it, with Laura Lefurgey-Smith, we then designed an infographic about our paper. The header image of this post is cut from that infographic.

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Our Paper in Sleep Medicine Reviews on Pre-sleep Cognitive Activity: A Systematic Review

Our systematic review of the literature on pre-sleep mental activity has been accepted for publication as a Clinical Review by the prestigious, high-impact journal, Sleep Medicine Reviews:

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Draft Manifesto for Integrative Design-oriented Cognitive Science and AI

This post briefly describes an approach to studying minds and designing artificial ones; the need to name this approach; the term integrative design-oriented as the name for the approach; and the need for a manifesto regarding the approach. In the main, it points to a draft manifesto. The post needs to be reorganized.

For many years I was dissatisfied with the name I used to refer to a certain approach to human mind (cognitive science and AI). How we name scientific concepts is actually quite important. In Cognitive Productivity: Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective, I referred to the approach as “broad cognitive science”.[1] I used the term “broad” to convey an attempt to understand a wide spectrum of capabilities that are often treated in isolation from each other under the banners of “cognition”, “affect” (“emotion” / “attitudes”, “moods”), “motivation”, “volition”, “executive functions”, etc. The approach means not to study these functions in isolation from each other, but as interacting and often blended mechanisms. By “cognitive science” I also meant an expansive approach to understanding human mind — one that is truly interdisciplinary and computational.

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AI Readings for Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists

While writing about the history of the Cognition and Affect project, I received a request for some readings on AI and psychotherapy. So, I thought I’d share a few readings here. Continue reading AI Readings for Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Shedding Some Light on Night Shift in iOS 9.3

Given that cognitive productivity is influenced by the brain’s circadian mechanisms, and that information technology and other technology can interfere with these mechanisms, you might be interested in a recent blog post of mine on mySleepButton.com. The post is a response to the introduction of a Blue Light Reduction setting in the Display & Brightness panel of iOS 9.3.

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A Tale of Two Summer Conferences: ISRE-2015 and CogSci 2015

I attended and presented at two conferences this summer:

  • ISRE-2015 July 8-10, in Geneva (International Society for Research on Emotions),
  • CogSci 2015, July 23-25 in Pasadena (37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society).

I enjoyed and will continue to benefit from both conferences. But there were psychosocially interestingly differences.

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Presenting the Cognitive Productivity Research Program at CogSci 2015 in Pasadena

Earlier this year I described a grant proposal to research knowledge workers’ cognitive productivity. Tomorrow (July 25, 2015), I will present my second CogSci 2015 poster (in Pasadena, California). This one is co-authored with Prof. Geneviève Gauthier of the University of Alberta and Prof. Philip H. Winne of Simon Fraser University. It is humbly called “Cognitive Productivity Can Cognitive Science Improve How Knowledge Workers Use IT to Learn from Source Material?” If you read this blog, you know the answer is “yes”. So the questions really are:

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Presenting Preliminary Results on the Cognitive Shuffle at CogSci 2015 in Pasadena

This afternoon, we will present preliminary results on the cognitive shuffle at CogSci 2015 in Pasadena (that’s the annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society). This is research with Professor Nancy Digdon from MacEwan. I’m looking forward to receiving feedback from our peers on this research.

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