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Conceptual metaphor research has benefited from advances in discourse analytic
and corpus linguistic methodologies over the years, especially given recent
developments with Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies. Such
technologies are now capable of identifying metaphoric expressions across large
bodies of text. Here we focus on how one particular analytic tool, MetaNet, can
be used to study everyday discourse about personal and social problems, in
particular, poverty and cancer, by leveraging reusable networks of primary
metaphors enhanced with specific metaphor subcases. We discuss the advantages of
this approach in allowing us to gain valuable insights into cross-linguistic
metaphor commonalities and variation. To demonstrate its utility, we analyze
corpus data from English and Spanish.
Cognitive linguists have argued that metaphors are anchored in our embodied experiences. Cultural, linguistic, and gestural representations are often seen as reflections of underlying conceptual mappings. On the basis of three different metaphors, MORE IS UP, SIMILARITY IS PROXIMITY, and SOCIAL DISTANCE IS SPATIAL DISTANCE (aka INTIMACY IS CLOSENESS), we argue for a more active role of external representations in individual cognition. Rather than being mere “reflections” of the respective conceptual associations, external representations actively enhance and support these. Since two of the metaphors we discuss associate the same source domain (SPATIAL DISTANCE) with different target domains (SIMILARITY and SOCIAL CLOSENESS), we also discuss to what extent primary metaphors are (by necessity) interrelated, and whether these metaphors can be treated as distinct conceptual entities at all.
Dynamic conceptualization is a fundamental notion in cognitive linguistics. Abstract motion is one type of dynamic conceptualization. It is said to structure descriptions of static scenes such as ‘The mountain range goes from Mexico to Canada’, and in doing so, invokes a subjective sense of motion or state change. In recent years, a growing body of experimental research supports this claim. However, additional work is needed to understand the dynamics of abstract motion and the extent to which it generalizes. This paper provides some background on abstract motion and reports two new experiments that investigate two unexplored types of abstract motion, including visual paths and pattern paths. Together, the results indicate that abstract motion plays a central role in language use and understanding.
Spatial intelligence plays an important role in the success of nanoscience students specific to their visual ability to perceive structures in three dimensions. The NSF-funded IDEAS project makes use of a unique interactive 3D visualization system, based on immersive environment technology, for research and learning in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at UC Merced. In order to determine the effectiveness of the immersive system on nanoscience learning, a pilot project was conducted with undergraduate students, which showed the success of immersive systems in the science learning process. Overall, the immersive environment provided complete control in the construction and analysis of carbon-based nanostructure models. Results also showed the 3D visualization system benefited students with low spatial abilities. To facilitate a better understanding of the structure and properties of nanostructures, the IDEAS project has recently been expanded to allow accelerated simulations for materials research. It is important to integrate these new applications into undergraduate level courses in order to strengthen materials science education, recruit and retain future students, and to adapt modern technologies for future materials science educators. The expansion of the IDEAS project relies on the flexibility of this system to serve as a research tool as well as an innovative resource for science education. To adapt the 3D visualization and computing system and help engage students early in engineering research, our research group gathered practical technical documentation geared towards education of science users, based on both Cognitive Science and MSE Education (MSE-Ed) research. The work presented here involves developing educational resources through the design of audio-visual manuals for effective nanoscience learning. The manuals are being created using commercial software to produce interactive electronic books (ebooks). During the planning of the audio-visual manuals, we discovered that it is imperative to provide adequate educational tools as well as efficient guiding principles for the large number of visual, inductive, and active learners in general engineering education. This interdisciplinary project combines fundamental concepts from materials science and cognitive science, particularly project-based learning and active processing, while considering the concepts of overloading, and the unreliability of natural language, among other topics. This investigation will serve society by enhancing materials science research and education, as well as influencing engineering, chemistry, computer science and cognitive science fields, among others.
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field that examines the structure-property relationships in matter for its applications to many areas of science and engineering. Providing a means for intuitive development of understanding of these relationships by young learners and university undergraduates alike is critical. The effectiveness of an immersive low-cost 3D virtual reality (VR) environment was evaluated during a pilot study sponsored by the Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems (COINS) program. The 3D VR environment involves the use of a specialized display, sensors, computers, and immersive visual technology equipment. In collaboration with Cognitive Science investigators, our research focused on understanding the impact of the 3D VR environment on the visual ability to perceive structures in three dimensions and on quantifying the learning of COINS participants. The premise was to measure the learning of undergraduate participants in activities designed to evaluate the quality of the learning environment. Our investigation consisted of three stages in which participants learned about carbon nanotubes (CNTs) via traditional methods, physical models and virtual models. Traditional methods (2D projection graphs) were not appealing to participants and did not facilitate depth perception. Physical (ball-and-stick) models motivated participants by allowing interactivity but bond distance/angle measurements were tedious. Virtual models (3D models) offered complete manipulation, real-time measurements and the capability of mimicking realistic atomic forces (attractive/repulsive), giving the user a better insight into the structure of CNTs compared to previous methods. While immersive environments offer virtual models with some of the same benefits of physical models, it is the extended features (e.g. accurate distance representation, computer simulations capability and analysis tools for further investigations) that suggest such environments as effective learning tools for materials science education. Preliminary data analysis suggests that highly accurate perception of a molecular structure is facilitated by the use of immersive environments in which the operator may manipulate and measure important intrinsic information about the structure. Moreover, computer simulations of materials are of great scientific interest for technological progress. We are presently working on the development of the immersive 3D VR environment to perform atomistic simulations to enable scientists to perform accelerated calculations to solve problems with performance enhancements over conventional methods. Another important value in the immersive 3D VR environment lies in its expanded use for multi-disciplinary research, influencing structure-dependent applications, science learning, and design of nanodevices in fields such as materials science, chemistry, engineering, cognitive science, nanotechnology, and computer science among others.