"Different isn't bad. It's just different."  
—Lauren Potter

There is great value and great challenge to be found in studying cognitive differences.

Many revolutionary findings within the field of Cognitive Science are the result of studying cognitive differences. With time, cognitive differences quickly became organized into "normal" versus "abnormal" patterns of cognition. However, it's worth questioning what it means to be "normal." What approaches and populations have been used to determine "normal"? How well do those populations represent the world at large? Could such an investigation reveal there are no "normal" or "abnormal" cognitive patterns, but simply different patterns of cognition?

In an effort to appreciate (and question) the study of cognitive differences, the objective of our conference is two-fold. We seek to (1) examine what the concept of "normal" human cognition has looked like in the past, and what it could look in the future, and (2) expose our audience to different patterns of cognition, namely, the cognitive patterns associated Primary Progressive Aphasia.

Plenary Speakers

The major programming of our event consists of speakers from nearby institutions who will question what it means to be cognitively "normal," and share some of the ways the cognitive science benefits from studying cognitive differences.


Take the opportunity to meet  students, faculty, and staff from Johns Hopkins and nearby universities!

Poster Session

We encourage underclassmen and those without a research background to submit literature reviews or original work on any topic within the field of cognitive science (psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, computer science, and philosophy).

Awards will be given for Best Poster and Best Abstract.

Plenary Speakers

Dr. Richard Prather

Associate Professor |University of Maryland

Reconstructing the Idea of Who Gets to be Normal in Human Cognition

Abstract: The study of human cognition has long assumed some sort of universal version of human cognition. This supports generalization from empirical results about the cognitive processes of humans deemed as "normal." Historically, the ideas of who counts as normal have been fraught at best. Cognitive researchers have often generalized what "normal" cognition is from homogenous participant samples with limited overlap of the global population. Recent theoretical and empirical work has demonstrated the fundamental limitations of this approach. In this presentation, I discuss both the history and the potential future of the concept of normal in regard to human cognition.

Professor Donna Tippett

Associate Professor | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Cognition and Anatomy in Primary Progressive Aphasia

Abstract: Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a neurodegenerative clinical syndrome characterized by the insidious onset, gradual decline, and predominance of language impairments due to atrophy in the frontal, parietal, and temporal regions of the left hemisphere. In this presentation, the defining speech and language characteristics, patterns of cortical atrophy, and underlying neuropathologies of the PPA variants are explained. Application of the dual stream model of language organization to PPA is explored. The role of speech-language therapy and neuromodulation to treat the devasting effects of PPA are shared.

Poster Session Judge

Dr. Brenda Rapp

Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
(Johns Hopkins Cognitive Science Department)

Dr. Brenda Rapp is the appointed judge for our undergraduate research poster competition,
She will award titles for "Best Poster" and "Best Abstract."



Saturday, April 8th


10:00 a.m.

Reception & Greetings

10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Speaker 1: Dr. Richard Prather - Reconstructing the Idea of Who Gets to be Normal in Human Cognition

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Lunch Break (provided)

1:00-2:00 p.m. Speaker 2: Professor Donna Tippett - Cognition and Anatomy in Primary Progressive Aphasia
2:00-3:00 p.m. Poster Session
3:00-3:30 p.m. Concluding Remarks & Awards

How to Join:

  1. 1

    Register for the conference on CampusGroups

    Register to attend the event on CampusGroups. You'll need this if you are receiving extra credit!

  2. 2

    Sign-up as a Presenter

    Have a paper, poster, or project you'd like to present at one of our poster sessions? Click below to register your poster.