Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science Track

 

Draws students from all majors who are interested in an interdisciplinary exploration of how the mind works. Students explore connections between Philosophy, Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, Linguistics, Neuroscience, and Anthropology.

The core requirements of the track include 15 credits that can be applied toward General Education requirements. Nine of these credits are from three courses and the remaining six credits are applied to a two-semester thesis project (see description below). Upon completion of the thesis project, students present their research findings in a public forum.

 

The Track is Ideal For:

  • Majors in psychology, anthropology, biology, computer science, and philosophy, with a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Students who enjoy small classes and individual attention from faculty members
  • Students who desire practical research experience
  • Students who are preparing for graduate studies

 

Curriculum:

Cognitive Science: The Interdisciplinary Study of the Mind (CGSI 2000)

Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary study of the mind/brain. Students will gain an understanding of how the different constituent areas (Psychology, Anthropology, Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Linguistics) are the rich foundation of Cognitive Science by directly interacting with the experts in those fields. This will provide the student with an overview of the field of Cognitive Science and the general methodologies used within those fields.  

Prerequisites: PSY 1100, PHIL 1100, and any Biology Course

Selected Topics in Cognitive Science (CGSI 3000)

In this course, we will examine basic concepts and problems found in several of the disciplines that make up cognitive science. We will begin with a historical overview, a review of brain anatomy and physiology, and explore the impact of the computer metaphor in cognitive science. We will then explore some of the issues within Cognitive Science in depth. Topics will range from theories on how we construct our visual world, to the representation of the self.

Prerequisite: CGSI 2000

Cognitive Psychology (CGSI 3750)

This course critically examines people’s information-processing capabilities and limitations. Emphasis is placed on the theoretical principles that underlie the attention, perception, and memory of events as well as current research problems.

Prerequisite: PSY 2030 (recommended)

Cognitive Science Honors Thesis I (CGSI 4010)

This is a research-based course. Although students will have already been exposed to one research methods course prior to the thesis course, an overview of the logic of research and the methodology will be presented. Research methods open to the students include: computer modeling and simulations, experimental and quasi-experimental designs, qualitative research methodologies, discourse analysis, and thinking out loud protocols. The ‘how to’ of research will be explored in detail. Students, in consultation with faculty, will select a topic for their research project. The exploration of the research topic will be the primary focus of the course. Formal oral and written presentation of the research proposal will be completed.

Prerequisite: CGSI 3000

Cognitive Science Honors Thesis II (CGSI 4020)

This is the second component to the Cognitive Science Honors Thesis. Students will have already selected a research topic for their thesis, and the literature review will have been completed. The focus of this component of the thesis will be on data collection and analysis, and finally on the oral and written presentation of the students’ research.

Prerequisite: CGSI 4010

 

What projects have students completed in the past?

Students in the Cognitive Science Track have produced the following theses: Mental Representation, Consciousness and Blindsight, The Philosophical Notion of Representation, Philosophy of Mind and Music, Consciousness and its Relation to Sensory and Motor Modalities, and Cognitive Implication of Neural Plasticity in Brain Damage.

 

How do I enroll?

To enroll in the Cognitive Science Honors Track, contact the Director, Dr. Amy Learmonth, at (973) 720-3657 or at learmontha@wpunj.edu. You could also contact Jan Pinkston at (973) 720-3776 or at pinkstonj@wpunj.edu. A completed track application must also be submitted to the Honors College. 

 

About the Track Director:

Dr. Learmonth is a developmental psychologist with a research focus on the development of memory and spatial ability. Most of her research is with young children and uses techniques such as deferred imitation and search tasks (both real world and virtual) to examine the changes in memory and spatial ability over the first six years. Her specific research is currently on the use of landmarks and geometric features in spatial memory and navigation. She is also currently working on a project that will look at early spatial competence and memory binding as a window into infantile amnesia. Recent publications by Dr. Learmonth have appeared in Developmental Science, Psychological Science, Memory and Cognition, and the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.