Cognitive Science

Concentration Advisor:
Prof. Thomas Serre
Office Hours: By appointment

Introduction

The field of Cognitive Science uses scientific methods of experimentation, computational modeling, and brain imaging to study mental abilities such as perception, action, memory, cognition, speech, and language, as well as the development of those processes. Students must become knowledgeable in four areas of emphasis: perception, cognition, language, and cognitive neuroscience, as well as a set of methods relevant to Cognitive Science research. Students then create their own focus area of study, potentially integrating coursework from the Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences department with a diverse subset of fields including Anthropology, Applied Math, Education, Neuroscience, and Philosophy.

The A.B. program is primarily for students interested in studying human mental processes and acquiring a research orientation to the study of the mind. The Sc.B. program is designed for students who wish to develop a stronger background in Cognitive Science and requires students to engage in a specific research project in the focus area of their choosing. We recommend that prospective concentrators register for one of the gateway courses and at least one of the other core courses preferably in their first or second year.

AP and Transfer Credits: Please refer to our departmental policy on applying AP and transfer credits.

Standard Program for the A.B. Degree: 13 credits

Gateway:

  • Introduction to Cognitive Science (CLPS 0020) or Alternative (with permission of Concentration Advisor)

Required core courses:

  • Cognition: Human Cognition (CLPS 0200)
  • Language: Introduction to Linguistic theory (CLPS 0030)
  • Perception: Perception and Mind (CLPS 0500)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience:
    Introduction to Neuroscience (NEUR 0010) OR
    Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (CLPS 0040)

Required courses in skills and methodology:

  • One Experimental Laboratory Course such as CLPS 1090, CLPS 1190, CLPS 1192, CLPS 1290, CLPS 1490, CLPS 1590, CLPS 1690, or CLPS 1890
  • One Basic Computation Course such as CLPS 0950, CLPS 1291, CLPS 1491, CLPS 1492, CLPS 1520, CSCI 0040, CSCI 0150, CSCI 0170 or equivalent
  • One course in Statistical Analysis such as CLPS 0900 or APMA 1650 (Note: Students cannot use an AP Statistics course in lieu of this requirement. APMA0650 and SOC1100 will not fulfill this requirement.)

Required Capstone:

  • Senior Seminar (CLPS 1900)

Electives:

Students must complete 4 additional courses, chosen from relevant courses in Cognitive Science offered in the CLPS department as well as departments across the University. In most cases, electives must be at the 1000-level and must show coherence and provide the concentrator with depth in one or more focus areas. Only one course below the 1000-level can be included in this list, and only with permission of the concentration advisor. Example electives and possible fields of study are shown in the Appendix of this document. Students are strongly encouraged to work out their program of electives with the concentration advisor.

Standard Program for the Sc.B. Degree: 18 credits

  1. All of the requirements for the A.B. degree.
  2. At least one semester of directed research (CLPS 1980), OR participation in a directed reading related to Cognitive Science (CLPS 1970) OR participation in an ISP or GISP related to Cognitive Science (subject to approval from the Concentration Advisor). See the section 'Directed Research' below for more details.
  3. A coherent program of at least four (4) additional courses in the life sciences (e.g., cognitive science, psychology, biology), physical sciences, mathematics, and/or applied mathematics that supports the student’s area(s) of study. Many acceptable supporting science programs are possible, and students are strongly encouraged to work out their program in consultation with the concentration advisor.

Honors

Refer to the CLPS Honors Progam page for detailed information about the Cognitive Science honors program.

Directed Research (Independent Study)

Directed Research (independent study) is encouraged for the A.B. degree and required for the Sc.B. degree. Students should sign up for CLPS1970 or CLPS1980 with a faculty advisor who is a member of the CLPS Department. Arrangements should be made during/prior to Semester 6 for students expecting to do independent study during Semesters 7 and/or 8. CLPS1970 or CLPS1980 can count as electives for the concentration requirements.

Cognitive Science concentrators may use at most two credits of CLPS1970 or CLPS1980 towards their degree. Students in the A.B. program can use these two credits to satisfy electives. Students in the Sc.B. program must use one of these credits to satisfy the Independent Study requirement, and may use the second to satisfy an elective or one of the four additional courses.

A.B. vs. Sc.B.

Both the A.B. and the Sc.B programs in Cognitive Science reflect recent national trends in the field and the breadth of the course offerings and faculty research interests at Brown. A broadly trained cognitive scientist must possess certain methodological skills, including knowledge of computational methods and research methods (statistics and laboratory techniques), which are incorporated in our skills and methodology requirement. In addition, a cognitive scientist must be conversant in the four major focus areas studied in the field: perception, cognition, language and cognitive neuroscience. Electives ensure that concentrators have the opportunity to investigate at least one particular area in depth. Finally, the concentration provides an integrative experience to all of its concentrators through the capstone senior seminar. The program is designed to provide the flexibility for each student to design a program that will meet her/his needs and interests

The Sc.B. program is designed for students who wish to bring a stronger background in general science and a research orientation to their study of cognitive science. Sc.B. candidates must also acquire first-hand experience in doing cognitive science research through an independent study project.

Electives

The following are a list of courses that could satisfy the electives requirement for the A.B. degree or the four additional courses necessary for the Sc.B degree. Because of the changing availability and the nature of the curriculum of the CLPS department and the University, this list is not exhaustive and varies from year to year. Other courses may occasionally be substituted with permission of the concentration advisor. Note that most of the courses for electives must be at the 1000-level. Exceptions can be made through discussion with the concentration advisor.

ANTH 1800 - Sociolinguistics, Discourse, and Dialogue

APMA 1360 - Topics in Chaotic Dynamics
​APMA 1650 - Statistical Inference I
​APMA 1660 - Statistical Inference II
​APMA 1670 - Statistical Methods of Time Series
​APMA 1680 - Nonparametric Statistics
APMA 1690 - Computational Probability and Statistics

BIOL 0480 - Evolutionary Biology

NEUR 0650 - Biology of Hearing
​NEUR 1030 - Neural Systems
​NEUR 1040 - Developmental Neurobiology
​NEUR 1660 - Neural Basis of Cognition
​NEUR 1680 - Computational Neuroscience

CLPS 1100 - Animal Cognition
​CLPS 1130 - Psychology of Timing
​CLPS 1200 - Thinking
CLPS 1210 - Human Memory and Learning
​CLPS 1211 - Human and Machine Learning
​CLPS 1220 - Concepts and Categories
​CLPS 1240 - Reasoning and Problem Solving
​CLPS 1241 - Causal Reasoning
​CLPS 1330 - Introduction to Syntax
​CLPS 1340 - Introduction to Semantics
​CLPS 1341 - Lexical Semantics
​CLPS 1342 - Formal Semantics
​CLPS 1350 - Introduction to Mathematical Linguistics
​CLPS 1400 - Neural Basis of Cognition
​CLPS 1470 - Mechanisms of Motivated Decision Making
​CLPS 1500 - Ecological Approaches to Perception and Action
​CLPS 1510 - Human Sensory Processing
​CLPS 1520 - Computational Vision
CLPS 1530 - 3D Shape Perception
​CLPS 1540 - Human Factors
CLPS 1600 - History and Theories of Child Development
CLPS 1610 - Cognitive Development
CLPS 1611 - Cognitive Development in Infancy
CLPS 1620 - Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
CLPS 1621 - The Developing Brain
CLPS 1630 - Perceptual Development
CLPS 1650 - Child Language Acquisition
CLPS 1730 - Psychology of Business and Economics
CLPS 1800 - Language Processing
CLPS 1810 - Syntactic Theory and Processing
CLPS 1820 - Language and the Brain
CLPS 1821 - Neuroimaging and Language
CLPS 1822 - Subcortical Brain Basis of Language and Thought
CLPS 1980 - Directed Research
CLPS Topics Courses - MOST TOPICS COURSES IN CLPS (See Concentration Advisor for Details)

CSCI 0220 - Introduction to Discrete Mathematics
CSCI 0510 - Models of Computation
CSCI 1230 - Introduction to Computer Graphics
CSCI 1410 - Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
CSCI 1480 - Building Intelligent Robots

EDUC 1270 - Adolescent Psychology

ENGN 1220 - Neuroengineering
ENGN 1570 - Linear System Analysis
ENGN 1580 - Communication Systems
ENGN 1610 - Image Analysis

PHIL 1520 - Consciousness
PHIL 1550 - Decision Theory: Foundations and Applications
PHIL 1590 - Philosophy of Science
PHIL 1630 - Deductive Logic
PHIL 1690 - The Problem of Free Will
PHIL 1700 - British Empiricists
PHIL 1750 - Epistemology
PHIL 1760 - Philosophy of Language
PHIL 1770 - Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 1780 - Philosophy of Biology
PHIL 1880 - Advanced Deductive Logic

Focus Area Suggestions

The following are suggestions for collections of four courses that make up a coherent focus areas of study in Cognitive Science. This list is not meant to be exclusive, and we encourage students to create their own areas of study from existing courses. These are merely suggestions, as many courses are interchangeable. Occasionally, ONE course below the 1000-level can be substituted. An individual student’s interests will determine his/her program of study. Conversation with the concentration advisor is strongly encouraged.

Artificial Intelligence

  • Thinking (CLPS 1200)
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (CSCI 1410)
  • Building Intelligence Robots (CSCI 1480)
  • Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 1770). 
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in Cognitive Processes (CLPS 1290) as a Lab Course and Computational Cognitive Sciences (CLPS 1291) as a Computational Course to supplement this focus. Making Decisions (CLPS0220) could be acceptable here as an alternative.

Cognitive Development

  • Cognitive Development (CLPS 1610)
  • Cognitive Development in Infancy (CLPS 1611)
  • Emotion, Cognition, and Education (EDUC 1260)]
  • Child Language Acquisition (CLPS 1650).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in Developmental Methods (CLPS 1690) as a Lab Course to supplement this focus. Children’s Thinking (CLPS0610) could be acceptable here as an alternative.

Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Neural Basis of Cognition (CLPS 1400)
  • Topics in Cognitive Neuroscience (CLPS 1480)
  • Language and the Brain (CLPS 1820)
  • Philosophy of Biology (PHIL 1780).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in fMRI Methods (CLPS 1490) as a Lab Course and/or Neural Modeling (CLPS 1491) or Computational Cognitive Neuroscience (CLPS 1492) as a Computational Course to supplement this focus.

Computational Modeling

  • Introduction to Mathematical Linguistics (CLPS 1350)
  • Computational Vision (CLPS 1520)
  • Statistical Inference I and II (APMA 1650/1660). 
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Computational Cognitive Sciences (CLPS 1291) as a Computational Course to supplement this focus.

Consciousness

  • Thinking (CLPS 1200)
  • Consciousness (PHIL 1520)
  • Epistemology (PHIL 1750)
  • Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 1770).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in Cognitive Processes (CLPS 1290) and/or Laboratory in fMRI Methods (CLPS 1490) to supplement this focus. A lower-level philosophy course could also be appropriate here.

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

  • History and Theories of Child Development (CLPS 1600)
  • Cognitive Development (CLPS 1610)
  • Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (CLPS 1620)
  • The Developing Brain (CLPS 1621).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in Developmental Methods (CLPS 1690) as a Lab Course and Computational Cognitive Neuroscience (CLPS 1492) as a Computational Course to supplement this focus. Children’s Thinking (CLPS0610) could be acceptable here as an alternative.

Judgment and Reasoning

  • Thinking (CLPS 1200)
  • Reasoning and Problem Solving (CLPS 1240)
  • Causal Reasoning (CLPS 1241)
  • Psychology of Business and Economics (CLPS 1730).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in Cognitive Processes (CLPS 1290) as a Lab Course and Computational Cognitive Sciences (CLPS 1291) as a Computational Course to supplement this focus. Making Decisions (CLPS0220) could be acceptable here as an alternative.

Learning and Memory

  • Thinking (CLPS 1200)
  • Human Memory and Learning (CLPS 1210)
  • Concepts and Categories (CLPS 1220)
  • Human and Machine Learning (CLPS1221).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in Cognitive Processes (CLPS 1290) as a Lab Course and Computational Cognitive Sciences (CLPS 1291) as a Computational Course to supplement this focus. Learning and Condition (CLPS0100) could be acceptable here as an alternative.

Neuroeconomics

  • Thinking (CLPS 1200)
  • Psychology of Business and Economics (CLPS 1730)
  • The Neural Basis of Cognition (CLPS 1400)
  • Mechanisms of Motivated Decision Making (CLPS 1470).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in Cognitive Processes (CLPS 1290) and/or Laboratory in fMRI Methods (CLPS 1490) to supplement this focus. Courses in Economics or Philosophy could be appropriate here.

Neural Modeling

  • Neural Basis of Cognition (CLPS 1400)
  • Neuroengineering (ENGN 1220)
  • Linear Systems Analysis (ENGN 1570)
  • Philosophy of Biology (PHIL 1780).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in fMRI Methods (CLPS 1490) as a Lab Course and/or Neural Modeling (CLPS 1491) and/or Computational Cognitive Neuroscience (CLPS 1492) as a Computational Course to supplement this focus.

Neurolinguistics

  • Language Processing (CLPS 1800)
  • Language and the Brain (CLPS 1820)
  • Neuroimaging and Language (CLPS 1821)
  • Subcortical Brain Basis of Language and Thought (CLPS 1822). 
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in fMRI Methods (CLPS 1490) as a Lab Course and/or Neural Modeling (CLPS 1491) and/or Computational Cognitive Neuroscience (CLPS 1492) as a Computational Course to supplement this focus. Language and Mind (CLPS0800) or Biology and Evolution of Language (CLPS0810) could be appropriate here.

Perception and Action

  • Ecological Approaches to Perception and Action (CLPS 1500)
  • Mechanisms of Motivated Decision Making (CLPS 1470)
  • Consciousness (PHIL 1520)
  • The Problem of Free Will (PHIL 1690).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in Visual Perception (CLPS 1590) to supplement this focus.

Psycholinguistics

  • Language Processing (CLPS 1800)
  • Child Language Acquisition (CLPS 1650)
  • Syntactic Theory and Processing (CLPS 1810)
  • Philosophy of Language (PHIL 1760). 
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Laboratory in Phonetics and Phonology  (CLPS 1390) to supplement this focus. Language and Mind (CLPS0800) could be appropriate here.

Visual Perception

  • Ecological Approaches to Perception and Action (CLPS 1500)
  • Human Sensory Processing (CLPS 1510)
  • 3D Shape Perception (CLPS 1530)
  • Perceptual Development (CLPS 1630).
  • Note: Students would be encouraged to take Visualizing Vision (CLPS 1590) as a Laboratory class to supplement this focus. Perception and Visual Illusions (CLPS 0510) could be appropriate here.