Current Courses

Cognitive Science majors take courses from across our affiliated departments and programs. This page highlights the courses this year that are being offered within the Cognitive Science program itself.

Fall Semester

Introduction to Cognitive Science (CGSC 101)

Brian Scholl, MW 2:30-3:45

A required course for the major, this course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of how the mind works, including discussion of tools, theories, and assumptions from psychology, computer science, neuroscience, linguistics, and philosophy. Syllabus

Perspectives on Human Nature (CGSC 282)

Joshua Knobe, TTh 1:30-2:20

Comparison of philosophical and psychological perspectives on human nature. Nietzsche on morality, paired with contemporary work on the psychology of moral judgment; Marx on religion, paired with systematic research on the science of religious belief; Schopenhauer paired with social psychology on happiness. Syllabus
 

The Adolescent Brain (CGSC 352)

BJ Casey, TTh 1:00-2:15

Study of empirical and theoretical accounts of adolescent-specific changes in the brain and in behavior that relate to the development of self control. Discussions will focus on adaptive and arrested adolescent brain development in the context of relevant legal, social, and health policy issues. Syllabus
 

Junior Seminar (CGSC 390)

Mark Sheskin, Th 9:25-11:15

A recommended course for the major, this course includes discussion of both historically important papers in cognitive science and recently published work. Topics are varied and reflect student interests. Some attention to planning for the senior project. Intended specifically for juniors in the Cognitive Science majorSyllabus
 

Evolution of Morality (CGSC 390)

Mark Sheskin, T 2:30-4:20

The evolution of moral judgment and behavior. Foundational topics include competing characterizations of moral cognition, inclusive fitness, and literature on cross-cultural universals and differences. Debates include how much of adult morality is early-emerging in development vs. a late-emerging product that relies heavily on learning, the presence of morality in other species, and the relationship between the evolution of morality and the evolution of religious belief. Syllabus
 

Cognitive Science of Pleasure (CGSC 421)

Paul Bloom, M 1:30-3:20

Exploration of the mysterious pleasures of the imagination, including daydreams, novels, movies, pretend play in children, and video games. Approach is eclectic, drawing on fields such as psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, evolutionary theory, and literary criticism. Syllabus
 
 

Spring Semester

Cognitive Science of Language (CGSC 216)

Robert Frank, MW 2:30-3:45

The study of language from the perspective of cognitive science. Exploration of mental structures that underlie the human ability to learn and process language, drawing on studies of normal and atypical language development and processing, brain imaging, neuropsychology, and computational modeling. Innate linguistic structure vs. determination by experience and culture; the relation between linguistic and nonlinguistic cognition in the domains of decision making, social cognition, and musical cognition; the degree to which language shapes perceptions of color, number, space, and gender.

Propaganda, Ideology, & Democracy  (CGSC 277)

Jason Stanley, MW 11:35-12:25

Historical, philosophical, psychological, and linguistic introduction to the issues and challenges that propaganda raises for liberal democracy. How propaganda can work to undermine democracy; ways in which schools and the press are implicated; the use of propaganda by social movements to address democracy’s deficiencies; the legitimacy of propaganda in cases of political crisis.

Laboratory in Animal Cognition  (CGSC 371)

April Ruiz, Th 1:30-3:20

An introduction to current issues, laboratory techniques, and  methods in animal cognition. Students help develop and pilot research projects on canine cognition. Topics include number, theory of mind, and causality.

Junior Colloquium (CGSC 395)

Mark Sheskin, T 9:25-11:15

A required course for the major, this half-credit course focuses on guest lectures from faculty from a variety of departments, providing a survey of contemporary issues and current research in cognitive science. By the end of the term, students select a research topic for the senior essay.

Social Perception (CGSC 425)

Brian Scholl, Th 1:30-3:25

Connections between visual perception, among the earliest and most basic of human cognitive processes, and social cognition, among the most advanced forms of higher-level cognition. The perception of animacy, agency, and goal-directedness; biological motion; face perception (including the perception of facial attractiveness); gaze processing and social attention; “thin-slicing” and “perceptual stereotypes”; and social and cultural influences on perception.

Cognitive Science of Morality (CGSC 426)

Joshua Knobe, T 7:00-8:50

Introduction to the emerging field of moral cognition. Focus on questions about the philosophical significance of psychological findings. Topics include the role of emotion in moral judgment; the significance of character traits in virtue ethics and personality psychology; the reliability of intuitions and the psychological processes that underlie them.

Senior Project (CGSC 491)

Mark Sheskin, W 9:25-11:15

A required course for the major, this course is a research colloquium leading to the completion of the senior essay. Students present on their senior project, provide feedback on their peers’ presentations, and provide and receive anonymous peer reviews in a journal-style peer review system with the other seniors.