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Special Program Policies 

Special  Policies  

Distribution. Students in the Cognitive Science major may count introductory courses in PSYCH, LING, PHIL, ECON, EECS toward their College Area Distribution requirement, although these introductory courses cannot simultaneously count as core courses in the major. COGSCI 200 will not count toward distribution for Cognitive Science majors. 

Double Majoring. Cognitive Science majors may double major in BCN, Linguistics, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, or other fields. However, to ensure that these students have devoted significant, independent effort to each major, only three courses can be counted toward both majors.

 

Major: Cognitive Science

 

May be elected as an interdepartmental major, jointly administered by the Departments of Linguistics, Philosophy, and Psychology, and supervised by the Cognitive Science Executive Committee

Effective Winter 2014

Cognitive science is the cross-disciplinary study of mind, brain, and behavior. This study is conducted at multiple levels of analysis, ranging from theories of neuronal processing, to computational models of how information is processed, to evolutionary models intending to explain various features of mental architecture. Recent advances in cognitive science — made possible in large part by crossing conventional disciplinary and departmental boundaries — are distinguished by efforts to build comprehensive theories that integrate these multiple levels of analysis. Through rigorous, multi-disciplinary investigations, the field continues to reformulate fundamental and enduring questions, while posing new ones, concerning the nature of, for example, thought, reason, decision, language, and knowledge.

The Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science reflects these developments by coordinating interdisciplinary course offerings and research training for students seeking a degree in Cognitive Science.  Tracks of study within the major provide primary (but concomitantly interdisciplinary) emphases on (a) computation and cognition, (b) decision, (c) language, and (d) philosophy of mind. The major is therefore intended for students interested in a natural or social science degree in the behavioral and brain sciences with a combined focus and breadth not accommodated by a major within any single department.

Prerequisites to the Major 

  1. COGSCI 200: Introduction to Cognitive Science. 
    Students may declare the Cognitive Science major after they have completed COGSCI 200.
  2. Each track has prerequisites for that track's core courses.
    Courses used to satisfy track elective requirements may have additional prerequisites.

Major Program

A minimum of 27 credits is required. The major is structured into four tracks, each representing a major area of research within contemporary cognitive science. 

Each track consists of:

  1. Three required courses
  2. Five elective courses (chosen from a track-specific list)
  3. Senior capstone experience (chosen from courses identified each year by the Cognitive Science Executive Committee)

The combined set of students' required and elective courses must be selected from a minimum of three departments.

Decision and Cognition Track 

The study of decision and choice is a lively area of contemporary cognitive science inquiry. The Decision and Cognition track provides students with sustained, cohesive instruction in a single, important content area: contemporary approaches to decision-making and choice. Students are presented with theoretical approaches to judgment and decision-making from psychology, emerging neurocircuit models of reward and reinforcement from neurobiology, algorithmic models of planning and action selection from computer science, formal approaches to rational choice (e.g., rational choice theory and game theory) from philosophy and political science, and cutting-edge approaches to understanding irrationality from behavioral economics. Critical thinking skills are honed as students learn about a well-defined content area from diverse perspectives and across multiple levels of analysis. The required courses in the Decision and Cognition track give students an introduction to historically influential approaches to decision-making drawn from three major fields. Students then have the opportunity to take coursework in a number of disciplines that approach decision-making from diverse but complementary theoretical perspectives.

Prerequisites for required courses

  1. One of:
    1. STATS 250: Introduction to Statistics and Data Analysis
    2. MATH 425/STATS 425: Introduction to Probability
  2. ECON 401: Intermediate Microeconomic Theory (if select ECON 408/PHIL 408)
  3. One course in calculus (MATH 115, 116, 121, 156, 175, 176, 185, 186, 215, 295, or 296)
  4. One introductory course in Philosophy

Required Track Courses

  1. PHIL 361: Ethics
  2. One of:
    1. PHIL 443: Foundations of Rational Choice Theory
    2. ECON 408/PHIL 408:Philosophy and Economics
  3. PSYCH 449: Decision Processes

Electives. Five courses selected from:

  • ECON 309: Experimental Economics
  • ECON 408/PHIL 408: Philosophy and Economics
  • ECON 490: Topics in Microeconomics: Economics and Psychology
  • EECS 492: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • PHIL 340: Minds and Machines
  • PHIL 366: Introduction to Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 408/ECON 408: Philosophy and Economics
  • PHIL 429: Ethical Analysis
  • PHIL 443: Foundations of Rational Choice Theory
  • POLSCI 391: Modeling Political Processes
  • POLSCI 490: Game Theory and Formal Models
  • PSYCH 335: Introduction to Animal Behavior
  • PSYCH 345: Introduction to Human Neuropsychology
  • PSYCH 346: Learning and Memory
  • PSYCH 348: Psychology of Thinking
  • PSYCH 433: Biopsychology of Motivation
  • PSYCH 448: Mathematical Psychology
  • PSYCH 476: Positive Psychology

Computation and Cognition Track 

A foundational idea of cognitive science is that mental processes are computational, and computation remains central to (but not the exclusive domain of) the field. This track requires students to take coursework in psychology and computer programming. Subsequent depth courses emphasize — although not exclusively so —computational and formal methods including machine learning, computational linguistics, rational choice theory, and mathematical psychology.

Prerequisites for the required courses

  1. One of PSYCH 111, 112, 114, 115, or 116
  2. EECS 203 Discrete Math
  3. EECS 280 Programming and Introductory Data Structures

Required Track Courses

  1. One of
    1. PSYCH 240 Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
    2. PSYCH 245 Cognitive Neuroscience
  2. EECS 281 Data Structures and Algorithms
  3. EECS492 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence)

Electives. Five courses selected from:

  • EECS 445: Introduction to Machine Learning
  • EECS 595/LING 541/SI 561: Natural Language Processing
  • LING 313: Sound Patterns
  • LING 315: Introduction to Syntax
  • LING 316: Aspects of Meaning
  • LING 347/PSYCH 349: Talking Minds
  • LING 352/PSYCH 352: Development of Language and Thought
  • LING 441: Computational Linguistics
  • LING 447/PSYCH 445: Psychology of Language
  • LING 541/EECS 595/SI 561: Natural Language Processing
  • PHIL 345: Language and Mind
  • PHIL 383: Knowledge and Reality
  • PHIL 417: Logic and Artificial Intelligence
  • PHIL 443: Foundations of Rational Choice Theory
  • PHIL 450: Philosophy of
  • PHIL 482: Philosophy of Mind
  • PSYCH 345: Introduction to Human Neuropsychology
  • PSYCH 346: Learning and Memory
  • PSYCH 348: Psychology of Thinking
  • PSYCH 349/LING 347: Talking Minds
  • PSYCH 352/LING 352: Development of Language and Thought
  • PSYCH 355: Cognitive Development
  • PSYCH 445/LING 447: Psychology of Language
  • PSYCH 448: Mathematical Psychology
  • PSYCH 449: Decision Processes
  • SI 561/EECS 595/LING 541: Natural Language Processing

Language and Cognition Track 

Because human language is universal in the species and grounded in human cognition and biology, linguistic inquiry was an integral component of the cognitive science revolution. Contemporary approaches to language synthesize models and findings from multiple disciplines, and the proposed curriculum is correspondingly interdisciplinary. The Language and Cognition track gives students a solid theoretical introduction to language through required coursework in linguistics, and in the philosophy and psychology of language. Further coursework broadens the investigation of language to include topics in computational linguistics and computer science, formal methods, and language development and learning.

Prerequisites for the required courses

  1. One introductory course in Linguistics (LING 111, 209, or 210)
  2. Advisory: one of PHIL 296, 303, or 414
  3. Advisory: one of PSYCH 111, 112, 114, or 115

Required Track Courses

  1. One of:
    1. LING 313: Sound Patterns,
    2. LING 315: Introduction to Syntax,
    3. LING 316: Aspects of Meaning
  2. One of:
    1. PHIL 345: Language and Mind
    2. PHIL 409: Philosophy of Language
  3. LING 347/PSYCH 349: Talking Minds

Electives. Five courses selected from:

  • EECS 376: Foundations of Computer Science
  • EECS 492: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • EECS 595/LING 541/SI 561: Natural Language Processing
  • LING 313: Sound Patterns
  • LING 315: Introduction to Syntax
  • LING 316: Aspects of Meaning
  • LING 342: Perspectives on Bilingualism
  • LING 351/PSYCH 344: Second Language Acquisition
  • LING 352/PSYCH 352: Development of Language and Thought
  • LING 412: Speech Perception
  • LING 421: Morphology
  • LING 426/PHIL 426: Philosophy & Linguistic Theory
  • LING 440: Language Learnability
  • LING 441: Computational Linguistics I
  • LING 442: Computational Linguistics II
  • LING 446: Comparative
  • LING 447/PSYCH 445: Psychology of Language
  • LING 541/EECS 595/SI 561: Natural Language Processing
  • PHIL 340: Minds and Machines
  • PHIL 345: Language and Mind
  • PHIL 409: Philosophy of Language
  • PHIL 426/LING 426: Philosophy & Linguistic Theory
  • PHIL 414: Mathematical logic
  • PSYCH 344/LING 351: Second Language Acquisition
  • PSYCH 352/LING 352: Development of Language and Thought
  • PSYCH 445/LING 447: Psychology of Language
  • SI 561/EECS 595/LING 541: Natural Language Processing

Philosophy and Cognition Track 

There is extensive interaction between contemporary philosophy, especially philosophy of mind and ethics, and cognitive science. Philosophers have long posed fundamental questions about the nature of mind, the relationship between the mental and physical, and the nature of human agency. Cognitive science provides a rich and ever expanding body of theory, models, and findings that are relevant to these timeless philosophical questions. The Philosophy and Cognition track requires coursework in core philosophical, formal and cognitive approaches to mind. More in-depth coursework allows students to deepen their understanding of the philosophical problems and analytical enigmas raised by language and other symbolic systems, artificial intelligence, inference and reasoning, and decision-making.

Prerequisites for the required courses

  1. One of PSYCH 111, 112, 114, or 115
  2. One introductory course in Philosophy
  3. Advisory: One of
    1. PHIL 345: Language and Mind
    2. PHIL 383: Knowledge and Reality

Required Track Courses

  1. One of:
    1. PSYCH 240: Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
    2. PSYCH 245: Cognitive Neuroscience
  2. One of:
    1. PHIL 340: Minds and Machines
    2. PHIL 482: Philosophy of Mind
  3. One of:
    1. PHIL 303: Introduction to Symbolic Logic
    2. PHIL 305: Introduction to Formal Philosophical Methods

Electives. Five courses selected from:

  • LING 315: Introduction to Syntax
  • LING 316: Aspects of Meaning
  • LING 347/PSYCH 349: Talking Minds
  • LING 352/PSYCH 352: Development of Language and Thought
  • LING 447/PSYCH 445: Psychology of Language
  • PHIL 340: Minds and Machines
  • PHIL 345: Language and Mind
  • PHIL 361: Ethics
  • PHIL 383: Knowledge and Reality
  • PHIL 389: History of Philosophy: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
  • PHIL 409: Philosophy of Language
  • PHIL 413: Formal Philosophical Methods
  • PHIL 414: Mathematical Logic
  • PHIL 417: Logic and Artificial Intelligence
  • PHIL 420: Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL 450: Philosophy of Cognition
  • PHIL 443: Foundations of Rational Choice Theory
  • PHIL 482: Philosophy of Mind
  • PHIL 485: Philosophy of Action
  • PSYCH 345: Introduction to Human Neuropsychology
  • PSYCH 346: Learning and Memory
  • PSYCH 348: Psychology of Thinking
  • PSYCH 349/LING 347: Talking Minds
  • PSYCH 352/LING 352: Development of Language and Thought
  • PSYCH 355: Cognitive Development
  • PSYCH 445/LING 447: Psychology of Language
  • PSYCH 448: Mathematical Psychology
  • PSYCH 449: Decision Processes

Honors Plan

The Honors plan within Cognitive Science is designed for students with strong academic records who wish to pursue a research project. Interested students will apply for the Honors plan in their junior year. The application will include a research proposal and must be signed by the faculty mentor. Applications will be reviewed by the Cognitive Science Executive Committee to ensure that, for qualified students, the mentor-mentee relation is established prior to the senior year and the project falls within cognitive science. Students in the Cognitive Science Honors plan will register for at least two terms of independent study (e.g., LING 495 and 496, PHIL 498 and 499, PSYCH 424 and 426), usually in the Fall and Winter terms of their senior year, with their faculty mentor in Linguistics, Philosophy, or Psychology. Honors students must complete an Honors thesis, which will be evaluated by two faculty, the faculty mentor and a second reader from a different department (which might include, for example, Biology, Computer Science, or Economics).

 


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