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Psychology department to present colloquium, March 20

image of Damien Kelty-Stephen

Damien Kelty-Stephen.

The Department of Psychology and the CBS Colloquium Series will present a talk by Damian G. Kelty-Stephen at 2 p.m. Friday, March 20, in DeGarmo Hall, room 48.

Kelty-Stephen is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Grinnell College. The talk is titled, “When the “ceteris” aren’t so “paribus”: Individual differences in cognitive performance and the full-body, multiscaled imbalances that participants lay at our laboratory doorsteps.”


An important gold standard in the sciences of perception, action and cognition has often been peeling away the overt behaviors and situating our causal explanations in terms of a physiological chain of events. Assuming all other things equal (ceteris paribus), these physiological mechanisms are expected to work. When the mechanics of this chain do not work reliably across all cases, psychologists invoke cognitive mechanisms such as attention to explain biases or changes in the gain of different sensory signals.

Again, ceteris paribus, cognitive mechanisms are expected to explain the subjective twist that our individual experiences of perception, action and cognition have above and beyond the mechanical physiology. The “ceteris” here comprises all those outer layers peeled away, and when we assume them to be the same, it means that the outer layers of behavior are either uninterestingly equivalent or so homogeneously random and unstructured as to be irrelevant. Whether anyone actually believes this latter point, it is the premise of the most customary statistical analyses in the behavioral sciences.

Kelty-Stephen will present evidence that perception, action and cognition, ranging from mathematical reasoning to event perception to intermodal haptic-and-visual perception indicating that the bodily periphery so often peeled away presents a sprawling cascade of interwoven fluctuations that predicts variability in cognitive performance. He hopes to convince you that even the very subtle postural fluctuations in your torso or head as you’ve read from top to bottom of this abstract might have been key to your being able to read it.

CBS Colloquium Series

The CBS Colloquium Series brings high caliber researchers to the Illinois State University campus to share their work with the local academic community. Individual faculty members invite speakers to campus based on their interests.

The Department of Psychology also invites alumni to speak in the series in an effort to maintain strong connections with former students and provide them with a chance to pass on their knowledge to current students. The series provides both faculty and students with a variety of professional development opportunities and allows students to network with professionals in their field of study.

This speaker series is funded by the Department of Psychology and the College of Arts and Sciences. To support the Department of Psychology and help enhance its educational mission with advanced teaching methods, guest speakers and more opportunities for students to learn through research experiences, please consider making a gift to the department through the Illinois State University Foundation.

If you need a special accommodation to participate in this program, call the Department of Psychology at (309) 439-8651. Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.

Download a PDF of the flier.