Introduction to Cognitive Science
Fall term, 2008

This schedule may be modified but the dates of midterms will not change.  

Please Note: Some documents are only readable with a current version of adobe acrobat reader. If you see blank pages in documents (or such) please get the new version of Acrobat Reader

ALL homework is to be submitted using Blackboard only.



Supplemental Readings
Th 9/4


Minds can be modeled at different levels; Cogntivie science crosses these levels (ppt
    Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. "What is Cognitive Science"
Tu 9/9

What is intelligence?

The Turing test tries to answer the question "Could a computer be intelligent?"

The world is exponentially complex

Ungar Homework 1 due 9/16 at 1:30 Turing "Computing machinery & intelligence" Mind 59:433-460 Clark Mindware Chapter 1, Loebner (Turing) competition more on the turing test
Th 9/11

Kinds of minds

Philosophers abstractly characterize minds using functionality and intentionality

Clark Mindware Appendix 1
Dennett, Kinds of Minds Chapter 2
Nagel "What is it like to be a bat?"  Chalmers "The Puzzle of Conscious Experience"
Tu 9/16

Voles in Love

Complex emotions linke love can have simple biological bases (ppt)



Homework 1
Due at 1:30 Blackboard.
Solutions here. (soon)

Zoogoer: Addicted to Love

Monkey Love and Human Love

Th 9/18

How do brains work?

The brain is composed of modulates with networks of neurons that compute and learn

Homework 2 due 9/25/07 at 1pm

Kandel et al. Essentials of Neural Science Chapter 2: Nerve Cells
Dawson: Chapter 3
Connectionist models

Rumelhardt. Chapter 1: "The Appeal of Parallel Distributed Processing."
Invariant visual representation by single neurons in the human brain, R. Quian Quiroga et. al.
Tu 9/23

Computers vs. Brains

Brains don't work like (classic von Neuman) computers, even through they can be modeled by them

Davis The Universal Computer Chapter 7

Markus Kludge, chapter 1


Turing Machines and the Church-Turing Thesis


Th 9/25

Perception I:

You don't see what is in the world; how do we study this?
Homework 2
Due at 1pm Blackboard. Solutions here.
Reisenberg, Cognition, Chapter 2
(pgs 35-49)
David Marr, Vision
Reisenberg, Cognition, Chapter 2 (pg 1-34)
Tu 9/30

Perception II:

Visual processing pathway; early vision
(ppt) and illusions


Homework 3
due 10/7 at 1:30
Kandel et al. Principles of Neural Science Chapter 21: "Construction of the Visual Image" Moore, Introduction to Hearing. TDS Appendix and elephant digression
Tr 10/2

Perception III

"What" we see and "where" we see it -- separate visual pathways?
(pdf) (ppt)


Branich, Cognitive Neuro-science and Neuropsychology, Ch 6 (part 1 and part 2 pgs 185-200) & 7 (part 1 and part 2; pages 222-234; 243-249)




Tu 10/7

Development and Plasticity

Ferrets and Barn Owls; brains rewire themselvs based on experience


Homework 3 and solutions
Due at 1:30

vonMelchner et al., "visual behavior auditory pathway," Nature, 2000 (pdf)

Knudsen, "instructed learning in the auditory localizatoin pathwy of the barn owl," Nature, 2002 (pdf)

Sharma et al, "induction of auditoyr cortex," Nature (pdf)
Th 10/9

Learning and memory

Different parts of the brain do different kinds of learning: Working memory is transferred to semantic memory in the cortex via the hippocampus

All share neuronal mechanisms with sea slugs

Ungar   Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science articles: "Neural basis of Memory"; "Memory consolidation"; "Memory distortions" Bower. A brief History of Memory Research. Encyclopedia:  Learning and memory; Working memory
Tu 10/14 FALL BREAK  



W 10/15 midterm 1 review Richards Ungar 5:00 pm B3 Meyerson Hall



Th 10/16




2005 midterm
2007 midterm
partial topic list

Tu 10/21

Reinforcement Learning

Reinforcement learning is widely used in animals, humans, and robots

Ungar   Lieberman. Chapter 4: "Theories of conditioning and the missing two pages" Sutton and Barto. Reinforcement Learning. Chapter 1 Kalat. Chapter 13: "The biology of learning and memory".  Tesauro's TDGammon.
Th 10/23

Probabilistic reasoning: Bayes Rule

Bayes Rule describes optimal reasoning under uncertainty

Ungar Homework 4
due 10/30 at 1:30

Conditional Probability pgs 57-71

Bayes' Theorem tutorial
E. Yudkowsky's An Intuitive Explanation of Bayesian Reasoning Mitchell. Machine  Learning. pp 154-159, 177-184 & additional pages
Tu 10/28

Judgement and Decision Making I

People use sub-optimal heuristics when making decisions


Reisberg, Ch 13




Th 10/30

Judgement and Decision Making II

How to understand human decision making -- framing effects etc. (ppt)
wason test

Attention and Executive Function

Richards Homework 4 and solutions.
Due at 1:30

Tversky et al, Judgement under uncertainty: heuristics and biases Chapter 10


Gigerenzer, "Ecological Intelligence in the evolution of the mind," by Cummins and Allen Chapter 1


Tu 11/4

Probabilistic models of mind: category learning, vision and speech

Bayes rule describes many types of thought including vision, speech recognition and category learning. THIS LECTURE WAS NOT GIVEN (ppt)

Ungar Report Proposal -- title abstract and seed reference example (corrected version!) and some advice

Tennenbaum and Griffiths"Bayesian modeling of human concept learning"

Th 11/6


The words (semantics) and rules (syntax) of language are processed by differnet parts of the brain
part A (ppt)
Part B (ppt)

Richards Ungar Homework 5 and solutions.
due 11/13 at 1:30

Speech Recognition pgs 568-577

Ullman. Neurocognitive Perspective on Language. Nature Neuroscience. Fosler-Lussier. Markov models and hidden markov models: a brief tutorial.

Tu 11/11

Why computers are autistic

Theory of mind is subtle. Simulation helps understand the world and other people.


Homework 5 and solution (later!)
due at 1:30

Th 11/13

Metaphor and simulation

Thought is multi-modal and embodied. Mirror neurons simulation grasping actions





  Gallese, Vittorio. A Neuro-scientific Grasp of Concepts (2003) & The Inner Sense of Action. (2000)
Tu 11/18

Attention and executive function

We process relatively little information impinging on our sense organs. How does the brain choose what to process?



report outline bibliography

Kandel et al. Principles of Neural Science. Chapter 19: "Cognition and the cortex"

Crick. Chapter 20: "Certain aspects of the cerebral cortex".  Sejnowski. Chapter 21:
"Open questions"

 Branich, Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology, Chapter 11

Tu 11/20


Emotions as interpretations of physiological states

Ungar Homework 6
due 12/2/08 at 1:30 Blackboard

Ch 13; Emotion. In Cog. Neuroscience, Gazzaniga et al.Cornelius. Chapter 13 I & II

Emotion and the Human Brain MITECS. Rolls. 'Précis of "The Brain and Emotion"' Behavioral and Brain Science.

Thur 11/25


Human awareness seems to derive from a winner-take-all competition among many subconscious neural assemblies

Ungar Koch, The Quest for Consciousness, ch14  



Tu 12/2

Course Summary

Wed 12/3 Review Session Richards
5:00 pm. B3 Meyerson    
Th 12/4 MIDTERM 2


Exam 2 covers:

Oct. 21-Nov 25, inclusive.

Practice exam and its


old exam and its solution

a brief summary of some concepts we have covered  
Th 12/11

Report drop off
Report due Hand-in location: 302 Levine (alternate: 502 Levine)
4:00 pm (or earlier)