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MINDLab workshop

 

Cognition in the Laboratory and Cognition in the Wild:

Methodologies for the study of human cognition and interaction in the cross section between social science and experimental cognitive science

 

Organised by Christian Højbjerg, Andreas Roepstorff and Jesper Sørensen

 

Aarhus University

16-17 September 2010

 

Questions about methodology have for a long time been given a lower priority within cross-disciplinary brain and mind research. The apparent absence of methodological reflection is a cause of surprise in light of significant developments that have taken place within the study of human cognition during the past two-three decades as a result of an increasing collaboration and inspiration between scientific disciplines such as neurobiology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, and philosophy. Critics of the cognitive study of human consciousness and behaviour usually ignore and disavow its results because of an alleged reductionist, scientific stance that privileges quantification and the explanation of causal connections at the expense of an understanding of cultural life that is based on interpretation and empathy. However, contrary to the view of its critics, much of the current research on the evolution and complexity of human culture, which finds inspiration in cognitive and natural science, in fact continues to apply a qualitative methodology and is subject to the serendipity of fieldwork. On the other hand, the human and social sciences exploring human cognition and (inter)action have increasingly come to supply, or substitute an ‘external reality’ with the controlled setting of the laboratory, thus applying experimental techniques, including brain-scanning. In the fashion of linguistics, psychology, economics, etc., experimental methods are also more frequently finding their way into the ‘wild’ that used to be approached mainly through a qualitative methodology. What seems to be missing from this intersection and exchange of research methodologies for the study of human cognition and behaviour is an informed discussion of its consequences for the results that are produced. So far, there exist only sporadic and piecemeal reflections on the implications of transferring methodologies developed in the laboratory to the ‘wild’. In addition, more needs to be known about how findings in the ‘wild’ may be used to revise laboratory work.


We aim discussions among the participants, and have scheduled time for questions or/and discussion after each talk. Additionally, each afternoon session will include a number of parallel two-hour workshops. Here, participants are given the opportunity to present, and have feedback on, issues from their own ongoing projects. Workshop presentations should be max 10 minutes, and focus on issues of relevance in the context of this symposium.

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Revised 6-11-2010