Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • A Holistic Approach to Representationalism

    Author:
    Jacob Berger
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Jesse Prinz
    Abstract:

    Perhaps the most promising account of the qualitative character of experience available is representationalism--the view that the qualitative character of a mental state is identical with (or supervenes on) that state's representational properties. According to representationalism, for example, the reddish qualitative character of a perception is (or is determined by) the property of the state's qualitatively representing red. But representationalism is incomplete without an account of how experiences represent what they do--that is, an account of the psychosemantics of qualitative content. To date, most representationalists have endorsed versions of so-called tracking theories of content, according to which a state represents a property just in case the state tracks that property. Such views are atomistic insofar as a state's content does not depend on its relations to other mental states. Versions of representationalism which depend upon such atomistic psychosemantics are, however, open to criticism. Some representationalists have therefore concluded that qualitative representation is primitive or resists reductive explanation. But this reaction may be too hasty. This dissertation develops a form of reductive representationalism according to which qualitative content is individuated in a holistic way. To develop this view, Chapter 1 addresses introductory issues regarding qualitative character and representation. Chapter 2 argues that standard forms of representationalism of the sort defended by Fred Dretske, William Lycan, and Michael Tye fail primarily because of theiratomistic approach to qualitative content. Recently, some representationalists have offered more sophisticated versions of the view, principally to accommodate phenomena such as undetectable quality inversion. Chapter 3 argues that these more complex accounts--including Sydney Shoemaker's dispositionalist representationalism and David Chalmers's Fregean representationalism--are unworkable. One might think that the failures of these views suggest that the chief rival to representationalism, the traditional qualia theory which holds that there are nonrepresentational qualitative aspects of perceptions, is correct. Chapter 4 argues that such a qualia theory is problematic because it cannot provide an account of our knowledge of qualia, even from the first-person perspective. In light of these considerations, Chapter 5 proposes a version of representationalism wherein qualitative content is individuated in a holistic way. This holistic theory of qualitative content--what is dubbed here `perceptual-role semantics'--builds upon a burgeoning theory of qualitative character, versions of which have been defended by, among others, Austen Clark, David Lewis, David Rosenthal, and Shoemaker. On the view developed, a qualitative state's content is determined by its relative location in a space of states that matches the corresponding quality spaces of perceptible properties to which those qualitative states provide access. For example, an experience of red represents red because the experience occupies a location within a space of experiences of color that corresponds to the location occupied by red within the quality space of colors. The resultant holistic version of representationalism avoids the problems that plague other versions of it, resolves a host of philosophical puzzles about qualitative character, fits with a range of recent empirical findings about perception, and opens the phenomena up to fruitful further study.

  • A Comparison of Vocabulary Learning From Joint Reading of Narrative and Informational Books With Dual Language Learner Children

    Author:
    Deborah Bergman Deitcher
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    Abstract A Comparison of Vocabulary Learning From Joint Reading of Narrative and Informational Books With Dual Language Learner Children By: Deborah Bergman Deitcher Advisor: Professor Helen L. Johnson This study examined joint reading of narrative and informational texts in the home setting, between parents and their English-Hebrew dual language learning preschool children. Parent-child dyads were video-recorded while reading two sets of books; each set contained one narrative and one informational text on the same theme. Children's target word learning of 48 target words (12 words per book) of varying difficulty levels was measured from pretest to posttest. Results showed that children learned target words at both the receptive and expressive levels, with scores nearly tripling from pretest to posttest at the expressive level. Child's age, prior vocabulary knowledge, and target word difficulty level were significantly predictive of children's receptive word learning. Age, number of years the child was in Israel, prior vocabulary knowledge, and target word difficulty level were significantly predictive of children's expressive word learning. Contrary to expectation, book genre was not significantly predictive of word learning. However, parent book reading style differed by genre, with more overall talk, and nearly twice the number of the following elements occurring during readings of informational texts: references to vocabulary words, questions, text-to-text and text-to-reader references, restatements, and elaborations. Educational implications are discussed.

  • The Effects Of Certain And Uncertain Reinforcement Procedures On The Quiz Submission And Performance Of College Students

    Author:
    Melody Berkovits
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Alicia Alvero
    Abstract:

    College instructors often provide homework so that their students can review class material; however some students do not take advantage of these review opportunities. This study compared the effects of a certain reward and a lottery reward on the quiz submission rates and accuracy of 112 college students. In Baseline, quizzes were for practice only and had no programmed contingency; in the Certain condition, two extra credit points were available for submission of a perfect quiz; and in the Lottery condition, students who submitted a perfect quiz were entered into a lottery with one winner (actual probability varied) for two points of extra credit. Submission rates averaged 36.50% for Baseline, 62.00% for Certain and 51.67% for Lottery. A one-way repeated measures ANOVA, followed by Fisher's LSD, found the differences in submission rates between all conditions to be significant at the .0001 level. Accuracy rates averaged 82.82% for Baseline, 93.80% for Certain and 93.99% for Lottery. A one-way repeated measures ANOVA, followed by Fisher's LSD found the mean score for the Baseline condition to be significantly lower than the mean scores for the Certain and Lottery conditions (p < .01), but did not find a significant difference between the latter two conditions (p < .05). This study demonstrates that when all other factors (e.g. magnitude) are equal, certain rewards are more effective than lottery rewards at increasing quiz submissions. It is possible that the lottery was less effective than the certain reward, due to the uncertainty (indirect contingency) inherent in the Lottery condition. These results have implications for business settings that use lottery rewards in an attempt to motivate a large number of employees at low costs. Future research should examine the roles of magnitude, probability and contingency in predicting the relative effectiveness of a lottery reward.

  • Discrimination of tone contrasts in Mandarin disyllables by naive American English listeners

    Author:
    Shari Berkowitz
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Speech & Hearing Sciences
    Advisor:
    Winifred Strange
    Abstract:

    The present study examined the perception of Mandarin disyllabic tones by inexperienced American English speakers. Participants heard two naturally-produced Mandarin disyllables, and indicated if the two were the same or different. A small native Mandarin-speaking control group participated as well. All 21 possible Mandarin contrasts where the initial syllable varied but the final syllable stayed the same were tested. Acoustic analysis was performed on the stimuli under study. Mandarin subjects scored at ceiling on all contrasts. American English subjects performed poorly on contrasts where the difference in mean F0 was small, or where the difference in the offset F0 of the first syllable was small. They also performed poorly when the difference in slope of the final syllable was small. Previous research has proposed that American English listeners attend primarily to the height difference between two tone stimuli, but here they attended to height in the first syllable and contour in the second syllable.

  • Fructose-conditioned flavor preferences in the rat: dopaminergic and opioid substrates in the nucleus accumbens and amygdala

    Author:
    Sonia Bernal
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Richard Bodnar
    Abstract:

    Systemic dopamine (DA) D1 (SCH23390) and D2 (raclopride) receptor antagonists reduce acquisition and expression of fructose-conditioned flavor preferences (CFP) in rats. Given DA involvement in nucleus accumbens shell (NAcS) and amygdala (AMY) in learning of food reward, the first and second aims examined whether NAcS or AMY D1 or D2 antagonism altered acquisition and expression of fructose-CFP. In expression, food-restricted rats with bilateral NAcS or AMY cannulae were trained to drink a flavored fructose (8%) and saccharin (0.2%) solution or another flavored 0.2% saccharin solution. Two-bottle tests with both flavors in saccharin solutions occurred 10 min following NAcS or AMY doses of 0, 12, 24 or 48 nmol of SCH23390 or raclopride. CFP expression following vehicle (76-77%) was significantly reduced by SCH23390 (48 nmol: NAcS, 62%; AMY, 66%) and raclopride (NAcS: 24 nmol, 63%; 48 nmol, 68%). In acquisition, rats received 12 nmol of SCH23390 (D1) or raclopride (D2) in the NAcS or AMY 10 min prior to one-bottle training sessions. Yoked controls received vehicle with limited CS intakes, whereas untreated controls were not injected or limited. Two-bottle tests revealed initial CFP in all groups that remained stable in untreated and yoked controls, but were lost over six test sessions in the AMY D1 and NAcS D1 and D2 groups. Thus, D1 and D2 receptor blockade in the NAcS and AMY significantly attenuated expression, but not initial acquisition of fructose-CFP, and hastened extinction of fructose-CFP. Systemic naltrexone (NTX), an opioid receptor antagonist, suppressed sweet intake, but failed to affect acquisition or expression of fructose-CFP. Because opioids in the NAc and AMY are implicated in food reward, the third and fourth aims examined whether NTX in these sites altered expression of fructose-CFP. Food-restricted rats with bilateral NAc or AMY cannulae were trained and tested in identical protocols using NTX doses of 0, 1, 25 or 50 ug. Significant CFP was observed following all NTX doses in all sites. Thus, DA, but not opioids modulate flavor-flavor conditioning through a regionally-distributed limbic brain network.

  • The Effects of Changing Values of Concurrent Fixed Ratio Schedules on Mand Allocation in Children with Autism

    Author:
    Haven Bernstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Peter Sturmey
    Abstract:

    Teaching situations with children with autism usually involve concurrent schedules of reinforcement. During concurrent schedules, manipulation of the schedule of reinforcement for one response affects the occurrence of alternative responses. This study evaluated the effects of four sets of unequal and one set of equal concurrent fixed-ratio schedules on the allocation of two mands in three children with autism. All three participants emitted a higher rate of mands for a highly preferred item than for a less preferred item determined by an initial preference assessment during a concurrent FR1/FR1 schedule. All participants increased mands for the less preferred item when the schedule value for mands for the highly preferred item was at some value greater than FR1. In terms of behavioral economics, positive cross price demand for the less preferred item as a function of increasing FR values for mands for the highly preferred item showed that all three participants substituted a less preferred item for a highly preferred item. This substitution, along with a negative own price demand for the highly preferred item as a function of increasing FR values for mands for that item, indicated some degree of demand elasticity for the highly preferred item. In addition, an increase in response variability measured by the number of switches from one mand to the other accompanied the increase in mands for the less preferred item at FR values greater than FR1 for the highly preferred item for two of the three participants. Comparison of measures of demand elasticity to more traditional measures of matching and maximization show that the former provides a more detailed account of response allocation during concurrent schedules. These finding have implications for the use of behavioral economics in the analysis of behavior change interventions during concurrent schedules in applied settings where a single behavior occurs at an inappropriate frequency and in the absence of desirable alternative behaviors.

  • Individual Differences in Electric Fishes: An Animal Model of Personality

    Author:
    Rebecca Berry
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Christopher Braun
    Abstract:

    Individual differences in animals have recently been described in behavioral ecology as behavioral syndromes: suites of correlated behaviors within individuals that are consistent across environmental situations. A central idea behind the behavioral syndromes approach is that behaviors do not occur in isolation; rather, they are integrated with other behaviors within the limited biological machinery of one individual. Electric fish are ideally suited for studies of behavioral syndromes because their behavior can be easily measured and tracked due to their unique electric organ discharges (EODs). It is also a good system to present realistic electric signals that mimic social interactions. Using a cohort of 22 Microsternarchus sp. a neotropical knifefish, we carried out a series of behavioral experiments, including a) a free exploration experiment, b) a terrestrial challenge, c) a novelty response experiment, d) a playback experiment with an aggressive sympatric species, and e) a jamming avoidance experiment. With the exception of the playback experiment, all were performed twice on all available individuals over the course of two years. Behavioral responses including EOD rate, locomotor activity, responses to novel as well as threatening stimuli, and reaction times were measured. Through principal components analysis and correlational analysis we determined that Microsternarchus sp. exhibit behavioral syndromes in activity, reactivity, aggression/dominance and possibly behavioral flexibility, integrating electric signaling behaviors with components of exploratory behavior and responses to stimuli. For example, individuals with the highest EOD rates spent more time swimming around a novel environment, than individuals with lower EOD rates, thus these behaviors form part of an activity syndrome.

  • STOCK'S PRICE BEHAVIOUR AROUND CORPORATE MERGER AND ACQUISITION ANNOUNCEMENTS: EVIDENCE FROM THE NYSE

    Author:
    Nataliya Bershova
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Economics
    Advisor:
    Robert Schwartz
    Abstract:

    Efficient price discovery is one of the most important qualities of a financial market. Assessing a market's efficiency of price discovery is a challenging topic because efficient prices are not directly observable. It is not clear how to measure the extent to which actual prices conform to efficient prices. In this study, we use a methodology based on a state space model which deals naturally with short-term microstructure noise and enables the estimation of the unobservable prices and by implication, the pricing error. We investigate the contribution of non-instantaneous price discovery to intraday stock's price volatility around US corporate merger and acquisition announcements for a sample of 53 NYSE stocks from 2004 to 2008 using the TAQ data. Specifically, we model and estimate non-instantaneous price discovery effects that are associated with partial price adjustments to merger and acquisition (M&A) announcements for target names. We estimate price impacts from order imbalances that create pressure on a stock's price and cause a stock's price to move in a direction of order flow using one minute differencing intervals in the day of the merger news and the following day excluding the first 30 and the last 30 minutes of the trading session. Partial price adjustments may result in market over/under reaction to M&A news. To address this issue we also model and estimate market over/under reaction to merger news. We analyze the estimates of price impact and market over /under reaction to M&A announcements by contrasting the results in an M&A environment with the estimates observed in no-news days and before M&A news days. Our results shed light on price discovery around M&A announcements and its contribution to accentuated stock's price volatility. We find evidence of a protracted price discovery process following M&A news that takes at least two days after public merger announcements. Our findings reveal a significantly more informative period in two days following M&A announcements with the information flow per unit of time a factor 2 higher compared to the pre-announcement period and no-news days.

  • La poética del cuerpo en la obra de Carmen Cecilia Suárez

    Author:
    Luz Betancourt Aduén
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Hispanic & Luso Brazilian Literatures & Languages
    Advisor:
    Elena Martínez
    Abstract:

    In this Dissertation I reflected on the Poetics of the Body in the work of Carmen Cecilia Suárez, a contemporary Colombian writer and poet. I examined the literary influence of Un vestido rojo para bailar boleros (1988), which exposed the cultural patriarchal fabric that originates the colonized feminine subject in Colombia; and, in the achievement of this exposition, outstanding feminist literary critics of this country, such as María Mercedes Jaramillo, Angela Inés Robledo, Betty Osorio and Helena Araújo, were true sources of inspiration. We approached the notion of Woman focusing on the processes that favor the body as a "space of empowerment", especially acknowledging the birth of the Butterfly Woman, main metaphor of self-representation of the author; in the literary fashion of Hélène Cixous, we analyzed the struggles of hers `to speak otherwise'. Thus, Lilith became the icon whom other feminine figures depart from; the icon constitutes the core of the "aesthetics of disobedience" that in this Dissertation stems from the Argentine literary critic Susana Reisz; among those figures we literalized the Witch Woman and the Prostitute Woman. I have structured my study, with what I called the Centripetal Poetics (or the feminine individual body) and the Centrifugal Poetics (or the feminine social body); from the perspective of the first, we illustrated the "ethical conception" that resembles the philosophical approach to literature of Luce Irigaray, where the heterosexual couple becomes a "metaphor of sexual difference". It was staged in "La casa azul" of El séptimo ciclo (1992) and "Cuento de amor en cinco actos" of Cuento de amor en cinco actos (1997); in these analysis as well as the travesty performance of "Anorexia", we included important insights of Judith Butler. From the perspective of the second, we accomplished "the epic feat" of consolidating the multistratified (multifaceted-multispatial-multitemporal) Feminist Feminine Subject, called the Nomadic Woman (or in terms of our writer the New Woman); we valued the literary feminist theory of Rossi Braidotti which reflected in our exploration of several short stories of La otra mitad de la vida (2001). In the Poetics of Secret Spaces, where the author continued elaborating the postmodern condition (poscolonial, posthuman, postgender) of that Feminist Feminine Subject , we came closer to several poems of Espacios secretos (2002) and Poemas del insomnio (después del vino) (2005); we enter the field of the Cyborg Woman and the Simulacrum Woman respectively. In Retazos en el tiempo (2010), the New Butterfly Woman was born; parting from the poem "Zen", Zen was examined as an aesthetic fiction based on the "semiotics of the mandala", a formalization of a "dream of multiple dimensions" of the writer, where she continued developing her art of erotic invention, as the Poetics of Yin-Yang.

  • Being, Doing, Knowing, and Becoming: Science and Opportunities for Learning in the Out-of-School-Time Setting

    Author:
    Bronwyn Bevan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Anna Stetsenko
    Abstract:

    This dissertation addresses the question of how structured out-of-school-time settings, such as afterschool programs and summer camps, are positioned to support children's engagement and learning in science. This study addresses a gap in the research literature that does not fully specify the nature of the out-of-school-time (OST) setting and that generally does not position learning and development in relationship to one another, instead focusing on one or the other. As a result of an incomplete conceptualization of the OST setting as a site for learning and development, the OST field is becoming increasingly academicized, and its developmental qualities and benefits for children are under siege. A transformative activist stance (Stetsenko, 2008) guides my goals in undertaking this study - to produce knowledge that can inform the design and implementation of OST science programs - and it also guides my analysis of what constitutes learning in OST science. A transformative activist stance is a perspective on cultural-historical theory that understands individual development as occurring through agentive, goal-directed efforts to change one's self and one's world. These goals and actions are always developed and enacted in cultural-historical context. Learning, which occurs through the appropriation of cultural tools and schema to achieve one's purposes, and which leads human development, is understood broadly, as entailing processes of being, doing, knowing and becoming (see Herrenkohl & Mertl, in press). I also draw on bioecological theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) to analyze the proximal processes that support and sustain children's participation in the OST setting. In this study, I analyze the structural, developmental, and conceptual features of three different OST science programs to understand how they create opportunities for learning and engagement in science. The contributions of this study are to better specify the nature of the OST science program setting and to better conceptualize how learning and development relate to one another in the context of OST science. I draw on my analysis to make recommendations for ways in which OST science learning can be expanded and enriched for more children in more settings.