Introduction to Cognitive Science

University of California, Merced
COGS 001: Introduction to Cognitive Science
Summer 2020

Lecturer: Adam M. Croom, Ph.D.

Lectures: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 3:00 pm – 5:20 pm, Glacier Point (GLCR) 135

Office Hours: By appointment over Zoom or at Social Sciences and Management Building (SSM) 250B

Course Description: Humans are truly fascinating creatures that engage in a wide variety of complex behaviors such as navigating new physical and social environments, learning and using natural languages, reflecting over past events and making future predictions, developing innovative tools and technologies, and collaboratively playing musical instruments with each other. How are human minds able to accomplish such a wide variety of complex behaviors? More generally, how does the human mind work? Questions such as these have fascinated philosophers for thousands of years and continue to excite cognitive scientists and other scholars to this day. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the landscape of contemporary research in cognitive science by drawing upon relevant tools, techniques, and theoretical frameworks from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, and artificial intelligence. Throughout this course we will survey a range of intriguing topics about the mind including classical and embodied perspectives in cognitive science, word meaning and sentence structure, gene-culture interaction and coevolution, cognition and emotion across cultures, and social cognition and behavior. We will familiarize ourselves with findings from behavioral, developmental, and social psychology as well as with results from lesion, TMS, fMRI, and MEG studies. Finally, we will explore how cognitive scientists attempt to model the mind and create artificially intelligent systems by considering pioneering work on algorithms, neural networks, deep learning, and robotics. By completing this course students will gain a better understanding of how the human mind works and develop a richer appreciation of how the brain, body, and world are intimately interconnected during complex behaviors. Students completing this course will also improve their knowledge about recent developments in AI and robotics and how the various subfields of cognitive science contribute to our overall understanding of the mind.

Outcomes: Upon completion of this course students will have developed their understanding of cognitive science by reading important articles and watching new lectures about cognition. Students will have also gained experience doing research on two topics of their choice and preparing two 20 minute presentations. Students will complete short activities every class utilizing a variety of active learning techniques, and frequent opportunities will be provided to work with partners and in small groups.

Required Reading: The readings will be available for you on CatCourses.

Assignment Submissions: Submit your assignments by uploading them directly onto CatCourses.

Grading Procedures: Your grade for this course will be based on your performance on regular activities (70%) and two 20 minute teach backs over Zoom (15% each). Your first teach back will focus on a topic covered in the first half of the course (within the subfields of philosophy, psychology, or neuroscience) and your second teach back will focus on a topic covered in the second half of the course (within the subfields of linguistics, anthropology, or artificial intelligence). A grading rubric will be provided with your assignments.

Academic Integrity: Each student must abide by the Academic Honesty Policy at the University of California, Merced. You must do all of your own work on homework assignments, projects, and exams, and copying is never allowed. Violations of academic integrity will result in disciplinary action.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: The University of California is committed to ensuring equal opportunities and inclusion for students with disabilities based on the principles of independent living, accessible universal design, and diversity. The University of California requests for academic accommodations to be made during the first three weeks of the semester, except for unusual circumstances, and students are encouraged to register with the Disability Services Center to verify their eligibility for appropriate accommodations. I am available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations that may be required for students with disabilities, so if you have any questions about this please feel free to ask.

Additional Remarks: This syllabus is tentative and subject to change so stay tuned for updates. To create an optimal learning environment computers can only be used for class exercises and notes (no gaming or social media, etc.) and no audio or video recordings are allowed in class. If you have any questions or want to talk more about the course, majoring in cognitive science, or your future career, I encourage you to visit me during office hours for a chat. I value your contributions in class and look forward to seeing you develop this semester.

Schedule Overview
July 6 The Contribution of Philosophy to Cognitive Science
July 8 Classical and Embodied Cognitive Science
July 10 Experimental Philosophy
July 13 The Contribution of Psychology to Cognitive Science
July 15 Behavioral Psychology
July 17 Developmental Psychology
July 20 The Contribution of Neuroscience to Cognitive Science
July 22 Lesion Studies and TMS
July 24 fMRI and MEG
July 27 The Contribution of Linguistics to Cognitive Science
July 29 Morphology and Syntax
July 31 Semantics and Pragmatics
Aug 3 The Contribution of Anthropology to Cognitive Science
Aug 5 Evolutionary Psychology
Aug 7 Cognition and Emotion Across Cultures
Aug 10 The Contribution of Artificial Intelligence to Cognitive Science
Aug 12 Algorithms, Neural Networks, and Deep Learning
Aug 14 Robotics