Cognitive Futures in the Arts and Humanities
Paradigms of Understanding – Sharing Cognitive Worlds

 19 – 23 June 2019 at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.

We are proud to announce our keynote speakers for the 2019 conference in Mainz. Scroll down to read more about the speakers and their topics.

Professor Gregory Hickok

Contact information

Gregory Hickok is a professor of cognitive sciences at the University of California, Irvine, where he also holds a position as the director of both the Center of Language Science and the Auditory and Language Neuroscience Lab. His research focus lies in decoding the neural mechanisms elemental to our ability to temporally organise memories. His work with rats utilises a multi-technique approach to observe them while they perform complex memory tasks. Amongst other topics, he has published extensively on the mirror neuron theory, the cortical organization of speech processing, and speech processing.

PD Dr. Katja Mellmann

University of München
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Katja Mellmann is an adjunct professor (Privatdozentin) of New German Literature at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich. Her research focus lies in the history of social, medial, and cultural communication in German literature from the 18th to the 20th century, reception psychology with a focus on the emotional impact of literature and narratology. She has published on intentionality, emotionalising, and empiricism in literary studies.

Keynote Title

Evolutionary proto-forms of verbal art: On behavioral dispositionions for poetry

Abstract: What prompts us to produce lyrical sounds, to wrap up information in the form of stories, or to gather for theatrical events? If there is no such thing as a general "art instinct," art emerges from a multitude of different behavioral dispositions. Exploring the dispositions involved in verbal art in terms of their evolutionary origin discloses some of the bizarre characteristics of poetry and literature.

Dr. Ilona Roth

The Open University
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Illona Roth is a senior lecturer of psychology at The Open University, Faculty of Science. In addition, she has a BA (Hons) in Humanities and Romance Languages. She has recently been awarded the Open University Research Excellence Award for Outstanding Impact of Research on OU Learning and Teaching, Curriculum and Students. Her research focus lies in the neurodiverse styles of cognition in autism, poetry by autistic writers, and imagination, creativity and aesthetics. Her most recent monograph explores the autism spectrum of the 21st century. She has also published on creativity and aesthetics in relation to autism, phenomena of awareness in dementia, and imagination.

Keynote Title

Understanding Autism: models, methods, meanings.

Abstract: In the decades since autism was first formally identified, the construct has acquired prominent but diverse meanings besides that of a neurodevelopmental condition calling for diagnosis and intervention.  For many psychologists and neuroscientists, autism invites exploration of causes, often with the ultimate aim of enhancing autistic people’s well-being, but equally for theoretical insights into neurotypical development.  Arts and humanities scholars may approach autistic cognition as a test bed of ideas about how mind-reading and imagination function in literary and artistic endeavours. Public interest in autism has been heightened by media and popular cultural representations, albeit tending to promote the stereotype of eccentric genius or exploiting quirky personality traits as a dramatic device.

For autistic people and their families, the meaning and lived experience of autism is markedly varied: for some it is a neurodiversity – a natural human variation in how people engage with the world and one another; for others it is a disability.

Underlying this range of meanings are different core assumptions about autism, and correspondingly, different methods for achieving understanding. In this talk I will consider the challenges of juxtaposing and transcending such different paradigms, drawing upon my own efforts to work across disciplinary boundaries.  

Professor Philipp Cimiano

Semalytix GmbH, University of Bielefeld
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Philipp Cimiano is co-founder of Semalytix GmbH and Professor for Semantic Computing at Bielefeld University. He has more than 20 years of experience in academia in areas such as Natural Language Processing, Computational Semantics, Knowledge Representation and Artificial Intelligence. He has published more than 200 papers in these fields and has over 12.000 citations. He was selected as one of top 10 scientists to watch for the future of AI by the IEEE Intelligent Systems Magazine in 2008.

Semalytix GmbH has been founded in 2015 and has grown since to become a world-leading provider of machine reading solutions for the Pharma industry in order to generate action-ready insights from unstructured text in real time. Their AI-driven intelligence platform extracts and transparently summarizes trends in value perception with human accuracy at machine scale.

Keynote Title

Machine Reading: Text Understanding at Scale

Abstract: In the digital era, large-scale text understanding needs abound across disciplines and domains. While problems in business or scientific contexts typically focus on knowledge discovery or generation of actionable insights from textual sources such as web pages, scientific articles or social media, humanities often address questions of text comprehension in a hermeneutical procedure. As a fundamental commonality, all these scenarios require capabilities of understanding natural language text at volumes that are virtually impossible to manage by human analysts or interpreters.

In this keynote presentation, we introduce machine reading as a sub-field of artificial intelligence that aims at training automated systems for large-scale text understanding tasks such that inspection of large amounts of text for relevant patterns of meaning becomes feasible at a glance.

Insights into the methodological and technical foundations of machine reading systems will be provided alongside practical real-world examples from scientific and business cases. In addition, we demonstrate the potential to unlock aspects of meaning in text to human analysts or interpreters in a highly natural and intuitive manner by means of question answering technology. At the current state-of-the-art, machine reading is not confined to objective language use; hence, we will also provide examples of how sentiment and emotionality detection in text can serve as proxies to subjectivity and human perception.

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