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See also Cognitive Science-related courses offered by other departments.

COGS Course Descriptions

  • Q101 Introduction to Cognitive Science (3 cr.)
    Introduction to the study of the human mind and intelligent systems using an integrative approach. Explores the nature of intelligence through simulations, robots, human experiments and philosophical inquiry. Topics include perception, consciousness, mental representations, models of cognition and brain anatomy as each relates to cognition. Provides an overview for those students considering a major in Cognitive Science or a related field.

    Fall 2015 syllabus:

  • Q240 Philosophical Foundations of the Cognitive and Information Sciences (4 cr.) A & H
    Foundational introduction to the cognitive and information sciences. The primary themes are: (1) causal issues such as functional and computational architecture (e.g., modularity, effectiveness, and implementation, analog/digital), neuroscience, and embodied dynamics; and (2) semantic issues such as meaning, representation, content, and information flow. The role of both themes in logic, perception, computation, cognition, and consciousness. Throughout, an emphasis on writing, analysis, and exposition.

    Spring 2015 syllabus:

  • Q260 Programming for the Cognitive and Information Sciences (3 cr.)
    P: Mastery of two years of high school algebra or the equivalent. Students will learn to write simple computer programs. Programming assignments will focus on the implementation of an important class of models from cognitive science, such as neural networks or production systems.

    Spring 2013 syllabus:

  • Q320 Computation in the Cognitive and Information Sciences (3 cr.)
    P: COGS Q260 or CSCI C211 with a grade of B or higher. Students will develop their computer programming skills and learn to write programs that simulate cognitive processes and run experiments with human subjects. The relation between computation and intelligence and a selection of approaches from artificial intelligence will be explored.

    Spring 2013 syllabus:

  • Q350 Mathematics and Logic for the Cognitive and Information Sciences (4 cr.) N & M
    P: Mastery of two years of high school algebra or the equivalent. An introduction to the suite of mathematical and logical tools used in the cognitive and information sciences, including finite mathematics, automata and computability theory, elementary probability, and statistics, together with short introductions to formal semantics and dynamical systems. If you matriculated in or after Summer 2010, INFO I201 may not be used to satisfy the COGS requirements satisfied by COGS Q350.

    Fall 2015 syllabus:

  • Q370 Experiments and Models in Cognition (4 cr.) N & M
    P: Mastery of two years of high school algebra or the equivalent. R: PSY K300 or equivalent familiarity with statistics. This course develops tools for studying mind and intelligence, including experimental techniques, and mathematical and computational models of human behavior. Topics include neural structures for cognition, attention, perception, memory, problem solving, judgment, decision making, and consciousness. Students will design and analyze laboratory experiments and apply formal models to the results.

    Fall 2015 syllabus:

  • Q301 Brain and Cognition (3 cr.) N & M
    R: PSY P101. An introduction to the neural mechanisms underlying complex cognition, and a survey of topics in neuroscience related to cognition. The course provides a solid background in human biopsychology. If Q301 is not offered in a given year, PSY P423 Human Neuropsychology may be substituted for this course.

    Spring 2015 syllabus:

  • Q351 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Computer Simulation (3 cr.) N & M
    P: CSCI C211 or consent of instructor. A survey of techniques for machine intelligence and their relation to human intelligence. Topics include modeling techniques, neural networks and parallel processing systems, problem-solving methods, knowledge representation, expert systems, vision, heuristics, production systems, speech perception, and natural language understanding. Students who have completed both C463 and C464 are exempted from taking this course. Credit not given for both COGS Q351 and CSCI B351.

    Fall 2014 syllabus:

  • Q355 Neural Networks and the Brain (3 cr.)
    The last few years have witnessed renewed interest in neural networks and deep learning as powerful tools for understanding and simulating cognitive processes. Neural networks are inspired by brain structure and function but vary in how well they perform cognitive tasks and how faithfully they simulate biological processes of the brain. This course provides an overview of common neural networks including deep learning, reinforcement learning, and self-organizing maps. Some practical computer programming exercises, mainly in Python, will provide training in how to implement neural networks to solve real-world problems. For each neural network, the course will critically analyze how well the networks solve real-world problems, how well they simulate neural systems in the brain, and where they fall short of biological plausibility. By the end of the course students will be able to implement practical neural network solutions and evaluate their suitability as models of the brain and cognition.

  • Q360 Autonomous Robotics (3 cr.)
    P: Two semesters of computer programming or consent of instructor. Introduction to the design, construction, and control of autonomous mobile robots. Includes basic mechanics, electronics, and programming for robotics, as well as the applications of robots in cognitive science. Credit given for only one of Q360 or CSCI B355.

    Spring 2015 syllabus:

  • Q400 Senior Seminar in Cognitive and Information Sciences (2 cr.)
    P: Four classes from Q240, Q350, Q260, Q370, and Q320. This course is intended for students who have completed or nearly completed their cognitive science course work. Students will apply previously acquired analytic, computational, mathematical, and experimental skills to independent research projects. Discussion and research topics may include consciousness, representation, artificial life, modularity, neural networks, functionalism and embodiment, dynamical systems, learning and innateness, human-computer interaction, cognitive neuroscience, robotics, and adaptive systems.

    Spring 2015 syllabus:

  • Q450 Topics in the Cognitive and Information Sciences (3 cr.)
    In-depth special topics not ordinarily covered in other departmental courses. Topics vary with instructor and semester. May be repeated once with a different topic for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

  • X373- Internship in Professional Practice (1-6 cr.)
    P: Sophomore standing or 15 credit hours completed in cognitive science major or minor, and approval by the Cognitive Science Program. Professional work experience in an industry or research organization setting, using skills/knowledge acquired in cognitive science course work. Requires learning contract. Evaluation by site supervisor and Cognitive Science Program. Does not count toward major or minor requirements; elective credit only. S/F grading. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours in X373 and former Q496. (Course formerly COGS Q496.)

  • X490 Readings in the Cognitive and Information Sciences (1-3 cr.)
    P: Consent of instructor. Tutorial study in specialized topics of the cognitive and information sciences. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours in X490 and former Q498. You may print the .pdf version of the Independent Readings/Research Project Agreement form from this site. (Course formerly COGS Q498.)

  • X497 Research in the Cognitive and Information Sciences (1-3 cr.)
    P: Consent of instructor. Active participation in research under faculty supervision. May be repeated for credit. You may print the .pdf version of the Independent Readings/Research Project Agreement form from this site. (Course formerly COGS Q493.)

  • X498 Project in the Cognitive and Information Sciences (1-3 cr.)
    P: Consent of instructor. Students will conduct a research project in the cognitive and information sciences by designing, conducting, and analyzing an independent experiment; by developing and testing a computer simulation of some aspect of cognition; or by otherwise engaging in a program of original research. Projects must be approved in advance and supervised by the instructor. May be repeated for credit. You may print the .pdf version of the Independent Readings/Research Project Agreement form from this site. (Course formerly COGS Q495.)

  • Q499 Honors Research Project in the Cognitive and Information Sciences (3 cr.)
    P: An Honors Committee approved by the Cognitive Science Program. Methods of research in cognitive science are analyzed. Students present their projects for discussion and analysis. May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credit hours. The application is included in the Senior Thesis Research Guide and can be downloaded. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader). You may print the .pdf version of the Independent Readings/Research Project Agreement form from this site.

  • Q510 Professional Development for Cognitive Scientists (3 cr.)
    Peter Todd
    Grad-level class, may be of interest to senior undergraduates. Students interested in taking this class (1) must obtain the instructor's permission and (2) see the undergraduate academic advisor for addition information and permissions.

    This goal of this course is for our cognitive science stand-alone and double-degree students to discuss a wide range of issues facing academic cognitive scientists. We hope to better prepare you for academic success within the program and university, and to teach you the professional norms of academic or applied cognitive science so that you can more effectively use your degree once it is conferred. By the end of the term, you will have a stronger grasp on what cognitive scientists do, on what you will need to do to flourish during your years here, and on what it is you will likely do once you graduate from our program. Topics to be addressed include: the ethical conduct of research, grant proposal writing and review, critical reading of the scientific literature, scientific writing and reviewing, presentation skills, applying for jobs, teaching, international perspectives, challenges facing underrepresented groups in science, intellectual property rights, and issues in crossdisciplinary collaboration. Part of the seminar will be organized as a series of presentations and discussions led by cognitive science faculty, students, and invited guests both within and outside of the university.

Course Descriptions for Related Courses

Below are selected course descriptions of cognitive science-related courses offered by other departments during Fall 2015. This list is under construction.

Contact the Cognitive Science Undergraduate Academic Advisor for more information about how these and other courses fulfill concentration and breadth requirements for the degree

Computer Science

  • CSCI B355 Autonomous Robotics
    Also listed as COGS Q360
    Randy Beer
    The role of the body in cognitive processes is becoming an increasingly important theme in cognitive science. In order to model embodied cognitive systems, some cognitive scientists have begun turning to robots. This course provides an introduction to autonomous robotics and its use in embodied cognitive science. Students will first learn the basic principles of mechanical construction, electronics, sensors, motors and robot programming. Then they will build and program their own original robots for maze traversal and manipulation. Students will work in small groups throughout the course. This course is very hands-on, with students spending the majority of their time actually working with robots under instructor supervision. The necessary conceptual and technical background for each project will be delivered in a series of short ‘mini-lectures.’

Computer Science

  • INFO I400/I400H/I590 Seek and Find: Search Strategies in Space and Time (3 cr.)
    Cross-listed in Cognitive Science
    Peter Todd
    The things we need don’t usually come to us; we have to go looking for them. People spend much of their time searching for information, resources, material goods, opportunities, and even other people. What strategies do humans (and other animals) use to decide where and how to search and when to stop searching? In this course we will explore the processes that animals use when foraging for food in the wild, that people use when foraging for information on the Web, that shoppers use when looking for a bargain (or a parking space), that applicants use when seeking a job, and that singles use when looking for a date. Students will try their hand at various search problems throughout the course, and will have the opportunity to program and analyze search strategies. We will see how optimal strategies process information from the environment to find the best option, and how heuristic rules can provide shortcuts to finding good alternatives. We will observe the emergent effects that many individuals looking for things at the same time can have on the search problem. And we will discuss how computational tools can be built using these ideas to help people do a better job at finding what they seek, whether online, in memory, or in the physical world.


  • LING-L 203 Introduction to Linguistic Analysis (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    Introduction to basic concepts of linguistic analysis, exemplifying the general principles of structural approaches to the modeling of language. Focus on, and application of, analytical methods applied in phonetics/ phonology and morphology/syntax. In the major or minor, credit given for only one of L103 or L203.

  • LING-L 245 Language and Computers (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    Present-day computer systems work with human language. This course surveys issues relating natural language to computers, covers real-world applications, and provides practical experience with natural language on computers. Topics include text encoding, search technology, machine translation, dialogue systems, computer-aided language learning, and the social context of technology.

  • LING L303 Introduction to Linguistic Analysis (3 cr.)
    Steven Franks

    Introduction to the tools of grammatical analysis as well as the theory and principles on which these analyses are built. Application of analytical methods to problems selected from phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and language acquistion. Basic concepts are laid out in Tuesday lecture and expanded upon in Thursday discussion sections, intended to develop skills of linguistic analysis and argumentation.

  • LING-L 306 Phonetics (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    Introduction to the nature of speech, and the physiology and process of speech production, and training in IPA transcription of utterances drawn from the languages of the world, including various English dialects. The course includes an emphasis on naturally occurring speech and understanding physical aspects of speech behavior. Some laboratory work is included.

  • LING-L 307 Phonology (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    R: L306. Basic concepts covered such as the phoneme and distinctive feature as defined and used within particular theories. The relationship of phonology to phonetics and morphology; exploration of salient aspects of sound structure and some characteristic modes of argumentation; extensive phonological analysis with some practice in writing phonological rules.

  • LING-L 308 Morphology (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    P: L103,L203, or L307. An introduction to morphology, the study of the internal structure of words. Topics include the concept of the morpheme, the structure of words and processes of word formation, inflection versus derivation, and issues in morphological theory. Students will do morphological analyses on forms drawn from a variety of languages.

  • LING-L 310 Syntax (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    R: L203.Examination of the basic concepts, assumptions, and argumentation of modern syntactic theory to describe and analyze common syntactic structures in English and other languages. Practice in constructing and evaluating grammars.

  • LING-L 325 Semantics (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    R: L203. An introduction to the relationship between linguistic forms and their meanings, use, and interpretation. Students will investigate the domain of linguistic semantics and acquire the "tools" to do semantic analysis and to critically evaluate those of others.

  • LING-L 415 Corpus Linguistics (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    P: L203 and L245. Computer technology has revolutionized the ways linguists approach data. Large bodies of text (corpora) can now be searched to uncover complexities in natural data and explore specific linguistic phenomena. Explores the nature of corpora and programs that annotate or automatically produce a concordance, and how such programs are developed and used.

  • LING-L 430 Language Change and Variation (3 cr.) CASE, S&H.
    P: L307. R: L310 or L308. An introduction to how languages change over time and how prehistoric languages can be reconstructed by comparing their modern descendants. Major topics include principles of language change; historical reconstruction; language relatedness and language families; variation and the mechanism of language change; contact-induced change; the birth and death of languages.

  • LING-L 435 Foundational Skills in Computational Linguistics (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    No previous programming experience required. Introduces basic concepts in programming such as loops or functions with the goal of attaining practical skills for text processing and solving problems in computational linguistics: expression searching, managing text, searching in text, and extracting information from text.

  • LING-L 445 The Computer and Natural Language (3 cr.) CASE, N&M.
    Present-day computer systems work with human language in many different forms, whether as stored data in the form of text, typed queries to a database or search engine, or speech commands in a voice-driven computer system. We also increasingly expect computers to produce human language, such as user-friendly error messages and synthesized speech. This course surveys a range of linguistic issues and problems in computational linguistics.

  • LING-L 490 Linguistic Structures (3 cr.)
    P: Consent of instructor. The linguistic analysis of particular aspects of the structure of one language or a group of closely related languages.

Psychological and Brain Sciences

  • PSY-P433 Laboratory in Neuroimaging Methods and Statistics
    Thomas James

  • PSY-P435 Laboratory in Cognitive Psychology
    Thomas Busey

  • PSY-P449 Social Psychology of Public Opinion
    Eliot Smith
    "Obama approval ratings near record low.” “Poll shows public supports right to abortion.” “50% of U.S. public does not believe in evolution.” Headlines like these appear almost daily in the news, suggesting the importance and interest that we attach to public opinion on significant and controversial topics. This course has two main goals. First, we will study the methods of public opinion research, the ways poll-takers find out what the public thinks and why. This course will empower students to become informed and sophisticated consumers of public opinion data, able to ask the right questions about poll results they encounter in the news, and to draw their own conclusions about what (if anything) those results mean. Second, we will examine some of the basic social psychological principles that shape the opinions that people hold. Why do some people (and not others) support President Obama, favor the right to abortion, or believe in evolution? Students will come to understand the roles of self-interest, group memberships, personal experiences, and conformity to the opinions of friends and neighbors, in the processes by which people form and change their opinions. Homework assignments will involve simple analysis and interpretation of actual data from recent surveys on social and political attitudes.

  • PSY-P453 Decision Making and the Brain
    Joshua Brown
    This course will explore how individuals make decisions, and what different parts of the brain contribute to decision-making. The first part of the course focuses on the psychology of decision making. Often decisions are irrational (non-normative) by some definition. As students learn how people make decisions, the knowledge can be applied to influence decision-makers toward particular choices. The second part of the course begins with a brief overview of cognitive neuroscience methods, and then it focuses on a number of exciting recent advances in the cognitive neuroscience of decision-making, including the new field of neuroeconomics. The course will explore how individuals decide what they perceive, decide what they want, and decide what to do. We will explore how brain activity leads to non-normative decisions, and how emotional and social factors influence decision-making processes in the brain. We will also briefly explore some relevant ethical and philosophical issues, such as whether or not individuals with specific kinds of brain damage should be held responsible for poor decisions or criminal behavior. Students will be assigned readings from the required texts as well as selected readings from primary source research articles.

Speech and Hearing Sciences

  • SPHS-S111 Phonetics for Speech and Hearing Sciences
    Tessa Bent
    This course provides an introduction to the sounds of human language. In addition to learning to transcribe speech using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), we will learn how to describe speech sounds in several domains: the articulatory domain (how speech sounds are produced in the human vocal tract), the acoustic domain (their form in the acoustic medium), and the perceptual domain (how listeners process the incoming speech signal).

  • SPHS-S333 Survey of Children’s Language Development (3 cr.)
    Lisa Gershkoff
    Language Concentration
    How do children acquire language? When do they learn to talk? How can a child who can't even tie her own shoes master a system as complex as the English language? This course will provide an introduction to the major theories and research that are fundamental to answering these questions. Consideration will be given to the biological underpinnings of language, the role the physical and social world plays in shaping children’s early predispositions, and the importance of emerging perceptual and cognitive skills in both normal and atypically developing children.

History and Philosophy of Science

  • HPSC-X227 What Computers Cannot Do
    Amit Hagar
    In 1984, the TIME magazine ran a cover story on computer software. In the otherwise excellent article, an editor of a certain software magazine was quoted as saying:
    Put the right kind of software into a computer, and it will do whatever you want it to. There may be limits on what you can do with machines themselves, but there are no limits on what you can do with software.
    A simple way of summarizing this course is that it is devoted to describing and explaining the facts that refute – no, shutter! – this claim.

    In the 5 modules that comprise this course we will acquaint ourselves with the logical limits of computation, as they were conceived within the framework of the foundations of mathematics. We will get to know the standard model for computation, the Turing machine, and learn about problems that it can and cannot solve. Turning to physics, we will find parallel definitions for computability in dynamical systems and in spacetime theories, and use notions from complexity theory to reframe long-standing problems in the philosophy of mind about free will, creativity, and the mind-body problem.

    Each module will be composed of frontal lectures, 2-3 writing assignments, and a group project that will be presented in class. Typically, these projects will consist of a digital presentation and an exposition of one of the concepts that will be discussed in the respective module, with an emphasis on its use and mention (or, as usually is the case, abuse and misinterpretation) inside academia and outside it in the popular culture. The course is self-contained and presupposes a mathematical background at the high-school level.


  • TEL-T312: Media and Politics
    The goal for spring semester is to work toward achieving intersubjectivity within a fractured media landscape. Objectives include defining intersubjectivity, identifying challenges to achieving it, and generating suggestions for improving it. Tactics include applying theories from communication and psychology to examining political media messages, with special attention given to contemporary U.S. political issues and events.
  • TEL-T314: Telecommunications Processes and Effects
    Examination of the effects of mass media on human cognitions, attitudes, and behaviors, relying on empirical social science research; emphasis on the effects on individuals, although study will include groups, organizations, and social norms.
  • TEL-T367: Game Design Theory and Practice
    Edward Castronova
    If you don't meet the requirements, email instructor for permission This course teaches the principles of designing engaging games (including computer games) by playing board games and table-top RPGs (such as Pathfinder, D&D). Students will play games and then make their own.
  • TEL-T471: Applying Theory to Media Design
    Basic media theories as well as cognitive, emotional and social psychology with a focus on how these theories can be applied to the design of media messages. Special attention given to Interactive and Immersive Mediated Environments.

School of Education

  • EDUC-P251 Educational Psychology for Elementary Teachers
    To teach effectively, teachers need to know a great deal about their students. In this course, we will focus on three core questions:
    - How do children learn, and what influences how they learn?
    - How does this affect how we approach classroom teaching?
    - How can educational psychology help us better understand how to create effective learning environments?
    This course aims to introduce some aspects of the nature of learning, and of the relation between learning and teaching. Learning to teach can be challenging because it involves moving between the general and the particular, between theory and practice, and between our own experiences and the experiences of others. In this class, we will address these challenges through readings, discussion, activities, writing, and lectures about learning and teaching. To further enrich your understanding of learning to teach, we will also share, discuss, and analyze your experiences at your practicum sites. This means that you are expected to be active, reflective, and collaborative participants in the work of our class. This class is not limited to future teachers only, but open to anyone who wants to understand more about learning and development in the context of schooling.

Hutton Honors College

  • HON-H241 Scientific Uncertainty and Discovery: Animal Thinking
    Jonathon Crystal

    Fundamental aspects of human experience include remembering the past, choosing in the present, and planning for the future. Do non-human animals remember the past, choose in the present, and plan for the future? Are people unique among all other animals in their cognitive processes? What do non-human animals know about the world? How do they come to know this information? What are the similarities and differences between this knowledge in animals and people?

    This course will explore the field of comparative cognition, the scientific study of cognitive capacities of animals. Topics include: perception, attention, memory, spatial cognition, timing, counting, conceptualization/categorization; tool fabrication and use; problem solving; and social cognition. Case studies will focus on episodic memory, mental time travel, metacognition, and theory of mind.

    The format of the course is a seminar. You are expected to read and carefully consider the assigned reading materials before each class meeting. Come to class with interesting questions and ideas for discussion. Read the materials prior to the first meeting of the week.

Second Language Studies

  • SlST-S306 Acquiring New Language Systems
    Rex Sprouse
    Examines the learning challenges associated with the acquisition of new languages in the domains of sound systems, word formation, sentence structure, and sentence interpretation.

Updated October 21, 2011