13 July 2017, 18.30 – 20.30

Alumni Talk Series: Milena Rabovsky (Berlin) and Joerg Fingerhut (Berlin)

“N400 amplitudes reflect change in a probabilistic representation of meaning: Evidence from a neural network” and “Complexity and beauty in art”

Milena Rabovsky was a member of doctoral cohort 20082011. She is now a postdoctoral researcher with M&B faculty member Felix Blankenburg at Freie Universität Berlin. Milena will speak about “N400 amplitudes reflect change in a probabilistic representation of meaning: Evidence from a neural network”.
ABSTRACT: The N400 component of the event-related brain potential has aroused much interest 
because it is thought to provide an online measure of meaning processing in the brain. Yet, 
the underlying process of meaning construction remains incompletely understood. Here, we 
present a computationally explicit account of this process and the emerging representation of 
sentence meaning. We simulate N400 amplitudes as the change induced by an incoming 
stimulus in an implicit and probabilistic representation of meaning captured by the hidden 
unit activation pattern in a deep neural network model of sentence comprehension, and propose that 
the process underlying the N400 also drives implicit learning in the network. We account for 
a broad range of empirically observed N400 effects which have previously been difficult to 
capture within a single integrated framework. Financial support: National council for scientific and technological development CNPq - Brazil.

Joerg Fingerhut is a postdoctoral researcher with Jesse Prinz's Einstein Visiting Fellowship group at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. He will speak about “Complexity and beauty in art”.
ABSTRACT: I will report on two lines of recent work our group has conducted in experimental aesthetics. One examines how the visual complexity of artworks influences their aesthetic evaluation. Here we conducted a cross-cultural behavioral and eye tracking study comparing responses in Tokyo and Berlin. The other line of work examines in what way beauty still plays a role for our perception of art. We claim that it still does. This hold for representational paintings in the history of art but also for contemporary art, for which philosophers have argued that beauty should not be a relevant category anymore. In general I will defend empirical approaches in (neuro)aesthetics against some challenges from philosophy.



Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Berlin School of Mind and Brain
Luisenstraße 56
Room 144 (ground floor)
10117 Berlin