Register Now for the 2023 IBACS Meet & Speak

Registration is now open for the 2023 IBACS Meet Speak event on Friday, April 28th from 9:30am-4:30pm. This exciting event will be in-person in Konover Auditorium.

Affiliated faculty will give 10-minute talks, most of which are on the research they have carried out, or propose carrying out, with seed funding awarded by IBACS. Affiliated graduate students who have received IBACS funding will present 5-minute “datablitz” style talks.

The event will provide an opportunity to learn more about the diverse interdisciplinary research of IBACS affiliates, provide a forum for cross-disciplinary networking, and will introduce our new UConn Science Alliance Mobile (SAM)! A more detailed program including speaker names and talk titles can be found below. We hope you can join us, please register here for all or part of the event.


9:30AM – Breakfast available in Dodd lounge


10:15AM–Faculty Talks (10 minutes each)

11:25AM–Graduate Student Data Blitz (5 minutes each)

12:00PM – Lunch

1:00PM–Keynote Speaker: Dr. Diego Bohorquez, Duke University

2:30PM to 4:30PM – UConn Science Alliance Mobile (UConn SAM) Open House on Fairfield Way

Full Program: Meet & Speak 2023

IBACS Meet & Speak 2023 Keynote Speaker

We're excited to introduce the Keynote Speaker for the 2023 IBACS Meet & Speak event on Friday, April 28th in Konover Auditorium. 

Dr. Diego Bohorquez, Duke University

Brief Bio: I am a neuroscientist recognized for the discovery of a neural circuit that serves as the basis of gut brain sensory transduction. At Duke University, I lead a research team built with the vision to treat the brain from the gut. Our mission is to dissect gut-brain circuits underlying behaviors to improve health. Beyond the laboratory, I founded Gastronauts Foundation Inc. - a global venue to disseminate knowledge on gut brain matters.

Talk Title: The Wisdom of the Gut

Abstract: The vision of my laboratory is to treat the brain from the gut. Over the last decade we established the neural basis for how gut feelings about nutrients guide appetitive choices. Our initial focus was sugar. Animals distinguish sugars from non-nutritive sweeteners even in the absence of sweet taste. The hidden sugar sense appeared to reside in the gut, but the cells and neural circuits were unknown. In 2018, our laboratory discovered a neural circuit linking the gut to the brainstem in one synapse. The neural circuit is formed between neuropod cells in the gut and the vagus nerve. This neural circuit is essential to convey sensory cues from sugars. In 2020, we discovered that animals rely on neuropod cells to distinguish sugars from non-caloric sweeteners. For this discovery, we collaborated with Prof. Polina Anikeeva to develop a new generation of tools to use optogenetics and other neural tools to interrogate the contribution of visceral sensors to behavior. Much like the brain relies on retinal cone cells to see color, gut neuropod cells help the brain choose sugar over non-caloric sweeteners.

Two relevant papers:

• Buchanan KL, Rupprecht LE, Kaelberer MM et al., and DV Bohórquez*. 2022. The preference for sugar over sweetener depends on a gut sensor cell. Nature Neurosci.

• Kaelberer MM et al., and DV Bohórquez. 2018. A gut-brain neural circuit for nutrient sensory transduction. Science. 361(6408). pii: eaat5236.

LangFest 2023

We are excited to announce that Language Fest is making an in-person return for 2023, and invite you to join us on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 26th (event times TBD).

Language Fest is a University-wide research conference that welcomes the full cross-disciplinary community of language researchers at UConn for a day of sharing results, ideas, methodologies, and fostering future interdisciplinary collaborations. Researchers from all disciplines of the language sciences and at all career stages are welcome and encouraged to submit their work.  

Further details about submissions and registration will be provided in early-March 2023.

For any questions about Language Fest, please e-mail: and visit our website

We look forward to your attendance and participation!

COGS Colloquium: Dr. Naselaris on 3/8

COGS Colloquium: Dr. Naselaris

The Cognitive Science Program invites you to a talk on 3/8!

Speaker: Dr. Thomas Naselaris, an Associate Professor from Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota.

Time & Location: 4PM, Wednesday March 8th, 2023, in McHugh Room 205. Light refreshments will be provided.


Talk Title: “Why Do We Have Mental Images?”

AbstractEveryone who experiences mental imagery is the world expert on the contents of their own mental images. We argue that this privileged perspective on one’s own mental images provides very limited understanding about the function of mental imagery, which can only be understood by proposing and testing hypotheses about the computational work that mental images do. We propose that mental imagery functions as a useful form of inference that is conditioned on visual beliefs. We implement this form of inference in a simple generative model of natural scenes, and show that it makes testable predictions about differences in tuning to seen and imagined features. We confirm these predictions with a large-scale fMRI experiment in which human brain activity was sampled while subjects generated hundreds of mental images. We speculate that ongoing mental imagery may impact the structure of noise correlations in the visual system, and present a preliminary analysis of the Natural Scenes Dataset that appears to be consistent with these speculations.

Bio:Thomas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota, and a member of the Medical Discovery Team on Optical Imaging and Brain Science at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research. He is co-founder and currently Executive Chair of the Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience.

COGS & SLAC Talk on 12/16: Jonathan Peelle

The Cognitive Science and SLAC programs invite you to a talk on 12/16!



Speaker: Dr. Jonathan Peelle, an Associate Professor from the Center for Cognitive and Brain Health at Northeastern University.

Time & Location: 4PM, Friday December 16th, 2022, in the Dodd Center Konover AuditoriumLight refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP so we can order accordingly.

Talk Title: Cognitive consequences of acoustic challenge during spoken communication”

AbstractEveryday communication is full of acoustic challenges, including background noise, competing talkers, or assistive devices. How do listeners understand speech in the midst of this noise? Evidence from multiple sources is consistent with a shared resource framework of speech comprehension in which domain-general cognitive processes supported by discrete regions of frontal cortex are required for successfully understanding speech. These increased cognitive demands can be captured using behavior, pupillometry, and functional brain imaging. Although frequently studied in the context of hearing loss, these principles have broader implications for our understanding of how auditory and cognitive factors interact during spoken language comprehension.

 Bio: Jonathan is a cognitive neuroscientist who studies the neuroscience of human communication, aging, and hearing impairment at the Center for Cognitive and Brain Health at Northeastern University. He also has two podcasts: “The Brain Made Plain” where he interviews cognitive neuroscientists about their work, and “The Juice and the Squeeze” in which he and a co-host talk about different aspects of being in academia.

Meetings: If you are interested in meeting with Dr. Peelle during the day on Friday or joining the dinner, please email:


IBACS Meet & Speak 2022 update

We are excited to officially invite you to attend theIBACS 2022 MeetandSpeakevent onFriday,April 29th from 2-6pm. This event will be in-person in Bousfield A106. 
Affiliated faculty will give 10-minute talks, most of which are on the research they have carried out, or propose carrying out, with seed funding previously awarded by IBACS. Affiliated graduate students who have received IBACS funding will be presenting 5-minute “datablitz” style talks. 
The IBACS Meet & Speak will provide an opportunity to learn more about the diverse research that IBACS affiliates are engaged in, and will provide a forum for cross-disciplinary networking. We hope you can join us, please register here for all or part of the event


General Schedule 
2:00PM - Introduction
2:10PM - Faculty Talks (10 minutes each)
3:00PM - Graduate Student Data Blitz (5 minutes each)
3:30PM - Keynote Speaker: Dr. Takao Hensch, Harvard University
4:30PM - Panel Discussion: Featuring Takao Hensch, Erika Skoe, and Natale Sciolino
5:00PM - Social in Atrium




Please join the Cognitive Science Program on 4/22 for our next Colloquium!
Image of Hady Ba

Speaker: Dr. Hady Ba, Associate-Professor of Philosophy at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Visiting Fullbright Scholar  

Time & Location: 4pm, Friday, April 22, 2022 in Oak 117. Light refreshments will be provided. 

Talk TitleApe Linguistics and the Chomsky/Norvig debate 

AbstractAccording to Chomsky, statistical models of language, even though pragmatically successful can’t teach us anything about the nature of language which is rule based. Norvig disagree. According to him science goes from accumulation of data to explanation and back. In this talk, I’ll first show that despite advances in the statistical treatment of language, what happens is that the most successful algorithms for translation, completion and dialogue seem to mimic our brains treatment of language but have some limitations that we don’t know yet how to get rid of. Does this mean that we need better linguistic theories to get to the next step? To respond to this question, I will use data from animal linguistic cognition. I’ll argue that our experiments in teaching language to monkeys and the use by some researchers of tools from linguistics to analyze natural communicative production of apes show that there is a very specific, probably innate, component in humans’ ability to not only produce but also understand language. I will argue that contrary to what Chomsky think, this component goes beyond universal grammar and is probably due to the very peculiar nature of human sociability.  

Bio: An Associate-Professor of Philosophy at Cheikh Anta Diop University, Hady BA is a Fulbright Scholar from Senegal. He holds a PhD in Cognitive Science from The Jean Nicod Institute in Paris. Before coming back to Dakar, Hady Ba has worked on the development of Natural Language Processing tools that uses open-source resources like the web to detect and anticipate security threats. He’s currently writing a book on the epistemology of the Global South and has an ongoing project on animal cognition comparing human and non-human cognition.  

Meeting opportunities: Dr. Ba will be available during the day of his talk for individual or small-group meetings on Zoom or in-person. Please contact Crystal at if you are interested.




IBACS Meet & Speak 2022

We are excited to announce that the date of the IBACS 2022 Meet and Speak event will be Friday,April 29th from 2-6pm in-person in BOUS A106
For those of you who are not familiar with the event, affiliated faculty (from the Storrs campus and UConn Health Center) will give presentations describing, in accessible language, the research they have carried out, or propose carrying out, with seed funding previously awarded by IBACS. Graduate students affiliated with the Institute will be performing short “datablitz” style presentations about their involvement in Seed Funded or related research. The event will also include a keynote talk by an internationally recognized speaker relevant to the brain and cognitive sciences community, TBD. The IBACS Meet & Speak will provide an opportunity to learn more about the diverse research that IBACS affiliates are engaged in, and will provide a forum for cross-disciplinary networking.


COGS, IBACS & BIRC Colloquium: Dr. John Hale on 2/18

Please join us virtually on 2/18 for John Hale's talk co-sponsored by the Cognitive Science Program. IBACS, and BIRC. Registration in advance is required. Details are below: 

Speaker: John Hale, Department of Linguistics, University of Georgia 

Time: 4pm, Friday, February 18, 2022 

Talk Title: Grammar, Incrementality and fMRI Timecourse 

Abstract: What is the physical basis of human language comprehension? What sort of computation makes a stream of words come together, one after another, to yield a communicative or literary experience? This question sets up a scientific challenge for the brain and cognitive sciences. With functional neuroimaging, it is possible to extract a timecourse of brain activity from particular regions and ask how well alternative (psycho)linguistic theories account for the measured signal. This can be done over prolonged periods of time, for instance during the spoken recitation of a literary text. On the basis of such timecourses, this talk argues that our conceptualization of grammar should go beyond simple word-sequences and naive phrase structure. It presents an incremental parsing strategy that is more consistent with neuroimaging data than the simple ones presented in books like Hale (2014). The overall methodology can serve as a positive example of how brain data, syntactic theory and parsing algorithms may productively co-constrain one another. 

Bio: John Hale, the Arch Professor of World Languages and Cultures at the University of Georgia, is a professor in the Department of Linguistics at UGA. A computational linguist, he has made significant contributions to the theory of sentence processing over the past two decades and is the author of a valued textbook in the field (Automaton Theories of Human Sentence Comprehension, 2014). Strongly committed to cultivating the vital and also changing character of intellectual pursuit in current times, Professor Hale collaborates with DeepMind and has been active in promoting interaction between industry and academia as a way of getting to the bottom of questions about the nature of mind. 

Zoom Registration Link:

Meeting opportunities: John will be available during the day of his talk (Feb 18) and also during part of the preceding day for individual or small-group meetings on Zoom. Please contact if you are interested in meeting with John. 



Virtual IBACS Meet & Speak: October 10th, 2020


To view the recordings of this event, please visit:



AI/Computational Modeling Meet & Speak: May 6th, 2020


To view the recordings of this event, please visit:



Colloqiua, Workshops and Lectures, etc.

HIGHLIGHTS from 2017/2018

UConn Logic Group

The UConn Logic Group meets every other week for the Logic Colloquium, to hear talks by local and visiting speakers on topics in logical studies. Check out their schedule on the Logic Group Website



12/6/17: Science and Story. Tim Miller, assistant professor of digital media and design, speaks about the role of storytelling in the communication of scientific research. He explained that as the understanding of science grows, storytelling drives inspiration and critical thinking while helping convey answers to the fundamental questions fueling scientific research.Photo Credit: Photographer Nicholas Hampton and The Daily Campus.