Research is done on the general underlying mechanisms of human cognition, on developing unified approaches for modeling the specific cognitive processes and phenomena, on integrating various cognitive processes into complex models and exploring the interactions between them. Examples of research topics include:
· Cognitive architecture DUAL – a hybrid (symbolic/connectionist) architecture based on emergent computation performed by a society of hybrid micro-agents. Researchers involved: Boicho Kokinov, Maurice Grinberg.
· Connectionist architectures – exploring the capacity and limitation of the connectionist paradigm. Researchers involved: Maurice Grinberg.
· Dynamic systems approach – testing the possibilities to develop dynamic models of cognitive phenomena. Researchers involved: Maurice Grinberg.
· Situated cognition, Context and context-sensitivity of human cognition – exploring the effect of accidental elements of the environment and the effect of previous states of mind on human behavior. Researchers involved: Boicho Kokinov, Maurice Grinberg, Encho Gerganov, Elena Andonova, Stefan Mateeff, Penka Hristova.
Thinking and Memory
Human thinking and memory are studied in a common interactive and constructive framework and their interactions are explored. Computational models are built as well as psychological and neurophysiological experiments are performed.
· Analogy-making – a model of human analogy-making is built (AMBR) and experimental work is performed on analogical reminding, mapping, transfer and evaluation. Researchers involved: Boicho Kokinov, Maurice Grinberg, Penka Hristova.
· Development of analogy-making and deductive reasoning – experimental work is performed exploring the development of analogy-making in young children (3-5 years old) and how analogy-making can be used for developing deductive reasoning abilities. Researchers involved: Boicho Kokinov, Milena Mutafchieva.
· Decision-making and judgment – individual judgment and choice as well as social interaction in games are studied, models are built and experiments are performed. Researchers involved: Boicho Kokinov, Maurice Grinberg, Stefan Mateeff, Penka Hristova.
· Constructive memory – the constructive nature of episodic memory is explored and experiments are run demonstrating memory illusions, including blending between episodes. Researchers involved: Boicho Kokinov, Maurice Grinberg, Neda Zareva-Toncheva.
· Concepts and categorization – the nature of the human conceptual system is explored as well as the representation and learning of concepts. Researchers involved: Encho Gerganov, Lilia Gurova, Elena Andonova, Maurice Grinberg, Boicho Kokinov.
· Integration of memory and thinking – the interactions between memory and thinking are studied experimentally and integrated models of memory and thinking are being proposed (AMBR). Researchers involved: Boicho Kokinov, Maurice Grinberg, Neda Zareva-Toncheva.
We are interested in how people understand, produce, and learn language and how different factors influence language processing in different populations. We conduct behavioural experiments in order to research various aspects of language processing from a cross-linguistic perspective and as a testing ground of psycholinguistic theories. The points of focal interest are the role of grammatical gender and imagery (among many other variables) in lexical access, cross-linguistic studies of aphasia, sex differences in language processing, the role of animacy and ambiguity resolution in sentence comprehension, etc.
· Sentence comprehension is explored by comparing results from online and offline experimental paradigms within the theoretical framework of the Competition Model. Researchers involved: Elena Andonova, Encho Gerganov.
· Grammatical gender and subject sex interactions in language processing are explored. Researchers involved: Elena Andonova.
· Language acquisition – longitudinal and cross-sectional child language data are collected and analysed; psycholinguistic experiments on picture naming and word naming in 5-9 year olds are run as well. Researchers involved: Elena Andonova.
· Interactions between memory and language – study of semantics and semantic memory. Researchers involved: Encho Gerganov.
· Language performance in aphasics – the language performance of aphasic patients is studied in psycholinguistic experiments (sentence comprehension, grammaticality judgments, etc.) and aphasic free speech is collected and analysed as a tool for exploring the mechanisms of language processing and the specific profiles of language disorders in Bulgarian. Researchers involved: Ludmil Mavlov, Elena Andonova, Katya Stoyanova, Margarita Raicheva, Armina Janyan, Tatyana Kostadinova.
Research focuses predominantly on human vision and the visual system. The experimental methods include psychophysical measurements of sensitivity, reaction time and recognition time as well as recording of visually evoked brain potentials.
· Visual localization of moving objects in space-time. Perceptual constancy during ocular pursuit. Researchers involved: Stefan Mateeff.
· Dynamic properties of visual motion perception: sensitivity and reaction time to changes in speed and direction of motion. Researchers involved: Stefan Mateeff
· Perception of objects moving behind very small apertures: slits and sieves. Effects of observation aperture (window) on the perception of moving textures and objects. Researchers involved: Stefan Mateeff.
· Perceived speed of rotation of 3-D objects: real objects and “structure-from-motion”. Researchers involved: Stefan Mateeff.
· Spatio-temporal characteristics of the normal and abnormal vision (exploring the possibilities for selective stimulation of the magno- parvo- or conio-cellular pathway). Researchers involved: Angel Vassilev.
· Spatio-temporal characteristics of isolated photoreceptor pathways, especially the pathways with input from the short-wavelength cones. Researchers involved: Angel Vassilev.
Methodological issues are studied in relation to the specific research being performed.
· Philosophy of science: the status of theoretical terms, intertheoretical reduction, conceptual change, the dichotomy conceptual/empirical problems, kinds of explanations (special interests in causal explanations in human sciences, including cognitive science and psychology). Researchers involved: Lilia Gurova.
· Philosophy of mind: the concept of mind as a theoretical concept, the mind-body problem, the problems of free will and mental causation, qualia. Researchers involved: Lilia Gurova.
· History of science: methodological problems concerning the historiography of science; conceptual change in the context of history of science; history of cognitive science and psychology. Researchers involved: Lilia Gurova.
· Statistical data analysis and chaos theory – methods for analysis of non-linear phenomena are being developed. Researchers involved: David Popivanov.
· Cognitive economics – experimental research on individual decision-making and social interactions in the economic domain is performed; special emphasis on context effects, analogy-based-decisions; a simulation environment is built to test various theoretical claims concerning multi-agent interactions. Researchers involved: Boicho Kokinov, Maurice Grinberg.
· Human-computer interaction – applied research on software and Web design and usability testing. Consultancy to software companies is provided by the LUCRAT laboratory established in cooperation with the Netage company. Researchers involved: Maurice Grinberg, Dimiter Simov.
· Active learning methods in education – applied research in education is performed and training to school and university teachers is offered by the Active Learning Lab. The focus is on student-centered learning, learning styles, interactive teaching, active learning, critical thinking, assessment methods, and action research. Researchers involved: Encho Gerganov, Elena Andonova, Eliana Pencheva, Alexander Pozharliev, Vania Matanova, Milena Mutafchieva, Milena Leneva.