IAS Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor John Hummel

21 May - 19 June 2014 FT BMVP Profile Picture Hummel

John Hummel’s research is concerned primarily with the representation and processing of relations. Along with language, the ability to think explicitly about relations is the major factor distinguishing human thinking from the cognitive abilities of all other animals. How can neural architectures (brains or artificial neural networks) generate, represent and manipulate relational structures? How does the mind's solution to this problem manifest itself in observable behaviour? Hummel and his collaborators investigate these issues in several domains. One is visual perception: How do we represent the spatial relations among objects or object parts? Under what circumstances, and in what form, will we explicitly encode these relations, and how does our encoding affect the manner in which we recognize and categorize objects? What are the limits on our ability to perceive relations and encode them in visual working memory? Hummel and his collaborators address these questions both empirically, by conducting experiments with human participants, and theoretically, by developing and testing computational (symbolic neural network) models of object perception and recognition. Another line of research concerns the representation and processing of relations in thinking and reasoning. Hummel and his colleagues have developed the LISA model of analogical reasoning and the DODA model of relational learning. LISA and DORA are neural networks that, by virtue of their solution to the role-binding problem, are capable of representing and processing explicitly relational (i.e., symbolic) structures. Together, these models account for roughly 100 major phenomena in the literatures of relational reasoning and cognitive development, including analogical retrieval and mapping, analogical (and rule-based) inference, schema/rule induction, relational concept acquisition, transitive inference, and the role of working memory, cognitive development, normal aging and brain damage in these processes. Recent work has extended these principles to understand how people generate explanations.

During his time in Bristol Professor Hummel is giving the following lecture:

For further information regarding Professor Hummel's visit, please contact Professor Jeffrey Bowers.