The Center for Data on the Mind: Helping Cognitive Scientists Tackle the Promise and Challenges of Big Data to Explore Behavior and Cognition

2016 Annual Meeting of the Society for Computers in Psychology (SCiP)


November 17, 2016
10:00am to 10:45am
Boston, MA

Big data offers cognitive scientists unparalleled opportunities to explore human behavior and cognition, but it poses its own set of unique challenges. The Center for Data on the Mind is a new, community-focused initiative aimed at equipping cognitive scientists with the mindset and resources to take full advantage of these opportunities. From highlighting unique datasets and tools to profiling inspirational projects, our goal is to encourage new, data-rich, naturalistic studies of human behavior and cognition with big data.

2016 Annual Meeting of the Society for Computers in Psychology (SCiP): Program

The Society for Computers in Psychology is a non-profit organization of researchers interested its applications of computers in psychology. Its primary purpose is to “increase and diffuse knowledge of the use of computers in psychological research.” Over the past several years the organization has set a special goal of aiding psychologists in using computational methods in their teaching and research. We have also encouraged consideration of the psychological aspects of hardware and software development and design. Membership is open to any person who has an academic degree and who is active in scientific applications of computers to psychological research.


Alexandra Paxton

Alumni - BIDS Data Science Fellow

Alexandra is a BIDS data science fellow and a postdoctoral scholar working with Tom Griffiths in the Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences. She got her PhD in cognitive and information sciences from the University of California, Merced, in December 2015.

Her work explores human communication in data-rich environments. From capitalizing on large-scale real-world corpora to capturing multimodal experimental data, her research seeks to understand how context changes communication dynamics. Broadly, her work integrates computational and social perspectives to understand interpersonal interaction as a nonlinear dynamical system.

Relatedly, Alexandra also develops research methods to facilitate quantitative research on interaction and encourages others to use data-rich computational methods through teaching and service. As part of that effort, she works with the Center for Data on the Mind to foster the application of big data to questions about cognition and behavior.

Tom Griffiths

Former BIDS Senior Fellow

Tom Griffiths is Director of the Computational Cognitive Science Lab at Princeton University.  At UC Berkeley, he was an associate professor in psychology and cognitive science. He did his undergraduate degree at the University of Western Australia and received a PhD from Stanford University in 2005. After a brief stint teaching at Brown University, he came to Berkeley in 2006, and his research resulted in awards from a number of organizations, including a Sloan Foundation Fellowship, a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, and the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association. His research focused on using mathematical and computational tools to study human cognition. The key question he seeks to answer is how to describe processes of thinking and learning in mathematical terms. To do this, he develops models of human behavior and tests them on behavioral data, running large crowdsourced experiments or using existing behavioral databases. Since many of the problems he studies—learning and using language, discovering causal relationships, learning concepts and forming representations—are things that people are better at than computers, one consequence of this research is developing new machine learning techniques for processing text and analyzing data.