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Courses

Course information found here includes all permanent offerings and is updated regularly whenever Academic Senate approves changes. For historical information, see the Course Catalogs. For actual course availability in any given term, use Course Search in the Portal.

COGS 101. Introduction to Cognitive Science (1). This course asks questions about how humans think. We examine how emotion has been considered distinct from cognition, as well as the relationship between language and thought. Some time is spent looking at the differences between perception, action, and rationality, while examining the role of social interaction in the development of our minds. Additionally, the class looks at the evolution of cognition, as well as the possibility that a mind could be realized on something other than a brain (and what the difference between the two might be). Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field, and as such students are introduced to perspectives and methodologies from philosophy, psychology, biology, linguistics, and computer science. Offered each year.

COGS 220. Artificial Intelligence in Fact and Fiction (1). This course is an introduction to cognitive science through artificial intelligence. Readings include many of the classic science fiction stories of authors like Stanislaw Lem and Isaac Asimov, as well as interdisciplinary readings that introduce the student to the actual state of the field of artificial intelligence. This course juxtaposes the “what ifs” of science fiction with the “what is” from the field itself. We survey the field of AI from Alan Turing’s work in the 1950s through the current theoretical explorations of philosophers, psychologists, and computer scientists. The questions we ask involve what “intelligence” is, how it shows itself in human beings and other animals, and what it might look like in a machine.

COGS 240. Memory and Cognition (1). This course examines some of the mental processes involved in human behavior. General issues to be covered include the accuracy of memory, problem solving, decision making, and the rationality of thought processes. Specific topics such as selective attention, subliminal perception, neurological bases of memory, and effects of aging will be discussed. (Also listed as Psychology 240.) (3B) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Psychology 100.

COGS 241. Minds, Brains, and Bodies (1). The human mind may be the last great mystery of the physical world--the thing that sets us apart from other animals and seems to defy physical law. In fact, consciousness holds the special title of “The Hard Problem”. Traditional philosophy of mind examines the mind-body problem, usually as it has been conceived and explored through analytic philosophy. This course looks at those texts that have defined and shaped the field historically, while including texts from other philosophical traditions that have only recently changed how the mind-body problem is understood. These include texts from phenomenologists, pragmatists, and linguists, among others. We survey many authors and perspectives, while remaining grounded in the classical texts of the field. (Also listed as Philosophy 241.) (5T) Offered even years, spring semester. Prerequisite: Philosophy 110 or 115.

COGS 260. Cyborg Brains and Hybrid Minds (1). This course explores the ways that our bodies and brains absorb external technologies. We look at the mundane ways that our bodies and brains change with bodily technologies (eyeglasses, artificial limbs, pharmaceuticals) as well as more drastic alterations (advances that allow paraplegic individuals to control cursors with eye movements; and performance artist Stelarc, who has attached and used a prosthetic third arm alongside his two “natural” arms). Students discover and discuss ways in which the pop culture concept of the “cyborg” has emerged as a genuine cognitive theory. The theory of the “Extended Mind” in cognitive science is used as students explore the interaction between body, mind, and environment as one continuous process rather than three distinct objects. The political, ethical, philosophical, artistic, and scientific implications of this claim are viewed critically and in depth. Offered odd years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Philosophy 110 or Psychology 100 or Cognitive Science 101 or consent of instructor.

COGS 280. Cognitive Robotics (1). This course serves as an introduction to robotics and to the many philosophical questions raised when using machines to do traditionally human activities. The reconfigurable and programmable robots used in class (such as LEGO Mindstorms) will allow students to see how machines respond to performing human-like activities. The class simultaneously explores what we know about cognition and embodiment, while asking philosophical questions about whether a machine could replicate or emulate genuine intelligence. This class integrates approaches from computer science, cognitive psychology, and philosophy, but prior knowledge of these fields is not required or expected. Students are welcome from all levels of programming experience, including those completely new to it. (3B)

COGS 380. Senior Thesis (.5, 1). Independent research by a superior student under faculty supervision. (CP) Prerequisite: Senior standing, invitation only.

COGS 385. Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science (.5, 1). This course examines advanced topics in cognitive science that reflect the interests and expertise of the instructor. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Prerequisite: Cognitive Science 101 and one other Cognitive Science course. Other prerequisites may be required depending on topics.

COGS 390. Special Project (.25 - 1). Individual study or research under close faculty supervision. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

COGS 395. Teaching Assistant (.25, .5). Work with faculty in classroom instruction. Graded credit/no credit.