Boston University, Department of Psychology
PS 525 Cognitive Science Spring 2000
Time: Tues-Thurs 9:30-11:00 Place: PSY 155
this file: http://web.bu.edu/PSYCH/faculty/charris/cogsci.html
Instructor: Catherine Harris Office: Psychology Department 123
Phone: 353-2956 Office Hours: M 3-4, TH 1-2
Course Description. Cognitive scientists
share a commitment to developing theories of human cognition which can integrate
findings from diverse fields (psychology, philosophy, linguistics, computer
science, neuroscience). Interdisciplinary research methodology, including
connectionist modeling, will be reviewed and applied to questions on human
thinking, problem solving, development, dysfunction and social behavior.
Prerequisites. One of the following
courses: Cognitive Psychology (PS 336), Neuropsychology (PS 338), Physiological
Psychology (231), Minds and Machines (PH 265), Mind, Brain and Self (PH 266),
Philosophy of Cognitive Science (PH 468). Background in statistics at least
to the level of MA 115 or PS 211. Recommended: A previous course in Computer
Science (CS 103 or higher).
Main Sources of Readings
Pinker, S. (1997). How the mind works. Norton.
Overview of contents.
Elman, J.L., Bates E. A., Johnson, M.H., Karmiloff-Smith, A., Parisi, D.,
and Plunkett, K. (1996)
Innateness. MIT Press.
Plunkett, K. and Elman, J.L. (1997). Exercises in Rethinking innateness.
A handbook for connectionist simulations. MIT Press (comes with
disks Macintosh and Windows)
To download tlearn software.
types of free neural net software.
Students without access to a Macintosh or PC running Windows can use the
Macintosh in Prof. Harris' lab in rm 127 of the Psychology Dept.
Weekly assignments: Assigned exercises
draw on Exercises in Rethinking innateness, or ask students to choose
from a list of discussion questions
Help lead a class on a topic in the second half of the course. Look
through topics listed from March 14 - May 2. Read/skim the readings
on this topic in Pinker, then choose an additional article for the rest of
the class to read. Suggestions are provided for each day. Some
of these books/articles are available at Mugar; Prof Harris has many
of them can you can borrow them from her at your convenience.
Term paper/project -- length flexible, but topic must have an interdisciplinary
Students are expected to attend all classes and contribute to discussion
as much as possible.
Interdisciplinary approaches to the big questions in the study of mind and
To what extent is the neural architecture underlying cognition a system
of symbolic rules (symbolic approach) versus networks of weighted
connections which give rise to statistical processing, constraint satisfaction
and analogical reasoning? Relevance of this question to innateness
and modularity, cognitive development, brain bases of cognition, brain disorders.
Does the computational theory of mind fit with evolutionary biology? How
should cognitive scientists view the new field of evolutionary psychology?
Can evolutionary psychology help understand clinical disorders like
depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Consciousness: why do we have the visual phenomenology we have? Why
are emotions important to cognition?
Is cognitive science relevant to understanding small groups and larger social
systems, social psychology, literature, art?
Availability of books and articles.
The three main books are at the BU Bookstore
Elman et al, Rethinking Innateness: also at Mugar Library Reserve
Articles will be available in the Psychology Dept Reading room (room 108,
also called the MA reading room). Articles can be borrowed to be read
or xeroxed, but please be considerate to other class members and return articles
as soon as convenient.
Articles mentioned as "background" or "follow-up" are pointers to additional
relevant material. These are typically topics on which I will lecture. Obtaining
and reading these papers is not required, and the articles are listed here
simply for your information. I have personal copies of many of the articles
suggested for background/follow-up and can lend these out on request.
Weekly Topics and Reading
Jan 11, 13 Course Introduction; History of Artificial
Plunkett, Chapters 1-3: how to use the tlearn simulator; basic connectionist
Elman, Chapter 2 through page 63: Introduces connectionism, complements Exercises
Pinker 's introduction to Neural networks, connectionism: p. 98-112
Jan 18, 20 Internal representations; Generalization, Modularity
Elman, Chapter 2 p. 63-79
Plunkett, Chapters 4-6
Pinker's material on constraint satisfaction in the visual system could be
useful (p. 214-242)
Jan 25, 27 Recurrent networks: Finding structure in time. Emergent properties.
Elman, remainder of Chapter 2, Chapter 3 107-147.
Plunkett, 7-8, Chapter 11.
Posner, M., & Keele, S. (1968). On the genesis of abstract ideas.
Journal of Experimental Psychology, 77, 353-363.
In Rumelhart & McClelland's (1986) Parallel distributed processing:
Explorations in the Microstructure of Cognition , volume 2: On learning
the past tenses of English verbs. Sci/Eng Reserve BF455 .R853 1986. Non-reserve,
available in Mugar stacks: Mugar BF455 .R853
Plunkett, K., Sinha, C., Moller, M.F., Strandsby, O. (1992). Symbol grounding
or the emergence of symbols? Vocabulary growth in children and a connectionist
net. Connection Science, 4, 293-312.
Feb 1, 3 The importance of starting small; Critical periods
Elman, J.L. (1990). Learning and development in neural networks: The importance
of starting small. Cognition, 48, 71-99.
Hare, M., & Elman, J.L. (1995). Learning and morphological change.
Cognition, 56, 61-98.
Feb 8, 10 Dynamical systems; Double dissociations don't imply modularity,
Farah, M.J., & McClelland, J.L. (1991). A computational model of semantic
memory impairment: Modality specificity and emergent category specificity.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 120, 339-357.
Johnson, M. (1993). Brain development and cognition: A reader. Blackwell.
Michel, G.F., & Moore, C.L. (1995). Developmental Psychobiology: An
Interdisciplinary Science. MIT.
Feb 15, 17 Rethinking Innateness
Feb 24 (holiday Feb 22) Connectionism and language disorders
Hinton, G.E., Plaut, D.C., Shallice, T. (1993). Simulating brain damage.
Scientific American, October 1993. Available in Psychology reading
Plaut, D.C. (1997). Structure and function in the lexical system: Insights
from distributed models of word reading and lexical decision. Language
and Cognitive Processes.
from Plaut's homepage.
also relevant :
Feb 29, Mar 2. Consciousness I: Visual system, change blindness,
Web pages with demonstrations:
Pinker, Chapter 2, p. 131-148 (discusses consciousness)
Pinker, Chapter 4 p. 256-275 (may be useful here for student who want more
background on the visual system)
O'Regan, J. K. (1992). Solving the "real" mysteries of visual perception:
The world as an outside memory. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 46(3),
461-488. Psychology reading room.
O'Regan, K. and Noe, A. (2000). A sensorimotor account of vision
and visual consciousness.
Rensink RA (2000a). The Dynamic Representation of Scenes. Visual Cognition,
7, 17-42. (pdf file)
Mar 4-12 Spring break
Mar 14, 16 Topics to be announced
For the following topics, some readings are as assigned immediately after
the date/topic header. Readings for the other date will be determined
by the student who wants to lead discussion for class meetings of this week.
Suggestions for these are listed under "additional reading suggestions."
Discussion leaders can also recommend their own readings.
Mar 21, 23 Categorization, Folk theories, stereotypes, racism
Additional reading suggestions, depending on which topics interest
students in the categorization, folk theories grab bag of topics:
by Douglas L. Medin, Scott Atran (Editors) (1999)
"Theory of mind" reading suggestions
Gopnik, Alison.(1999). The scientist in the crib: minds, brains, and how
children learn. William Morrow. Mugar BF311 .G627
Gopnik, Alison. (1993). How we know our minds: The illusion of first-person
knowledge of intentionality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 16,
Social psychology suggestions: (these may also be appropriate for April 4,
Read, S.J., & Miller, L.C. (1998). Connectionist models of social
reasoning and social behavior. Lawrence Erlbaum. Available from
Mugar HM251 .C686
Mar 28, 30 Consciousness II: Emotions
Pinker, Chapter 6
Sloman, A. (1997). What sort of control system is able to have a personality.
In R. Trappl and P. Petta (Eds.),Creating personalities for synthetic
actors: towards autonomous personality agents. Springer. Sci/Eng TR897.7
Damasio, Antonio R.(1994). Descartes' error : emotion, reason, and the
human brain Putnam. Mugar QP401 .D2
Damasio, A.R. (1999). The feeling of what happens: Body and emotion in
the making of consciousness. Mugar BF311 .D33 1999
Johnston, V.S. (1999). Why We Feel: The Science of Human Emotions.
Apr 4, 6 Evolutionary Psychology
Pinker, Chapter 7. (Pinker Chapter 3 may also be helpful, as here he
introduces background on evolutionary theory, although this material may
already be familiar to students.)
Wong, P.T.P, Fry, P.S. (1998). The human quest for meaning: a handbook
of psychological research and clinical applications. Erlbaum. Mugar BF463.M4
H86. (some readings also relevant to May 2 date)
Simpson, J.A. and Kenrick, D.T. (1997). Evolutionary social psychology
. Erlbaum. Mugar HM251 .E846
Buss, D.M., and Malamuth, N.M. (1996). Sex, power, conflict:
Evolutionary and feminist perspectives. Oxford. Mugar HQ801.83 .S49 1996
Etcoff, N.L. (1999). Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty.
Cummins, D.D. and Allen, C. (1998). The evolution of mind. Oxford
University Press. Mugar BF311 .E876
Apr 11, 13 Cognitive science and society
On one of these two dates I will present material from the following book
and CD-ROM, but no reading required. The remaining day remains open
for another topic relevant to cognitive science and society (perhaps inspired
from one of the topics about society and social relations in Pinker Chapter
Epstein, J. M.and Axtell, R. (1996). Growing artificial societies: social
science from the bottom up. Brookings Institution Press Mugar
H61 .E67 1996
Apr 18, 20 Neural networks and brain disorders
Dror, I.E., Gallogly (1999). Computational analyses in cognitive neuroscience:
In defense of biological implausibility. Psychonomic Bulletin and
Review, 6, 173-182.
Rolls, E.T., & Treves, A. (1998). Neural networks and brain
Reggia, J.A., Ruppin, E. Berndt, R.S. (1996). Neural modeling of brain
and cognitive disorders. World Scientific Publishing Co.
Apr 25, 27 Evolutionary Psychiatry
Dinn, W.M. and Harris, C.L. (1999). Orbitofrontal dysfunction: A
McGuire, M.T., & Troisi, A. (1998). Darwinian Psychiatry. Oxford.
(Harris has this book)
Stevens, A., and Price, J. (1996).Evolutionary psychiatry: a new
beginning. Routledge, 1996. Sci/Eng RC454.4 .S73
May 2 Cognitive science and art, literature.
Simon, H. (1995). Literatry criticism: A cognitive approach. Stanford
Electronic Humanities Review. 4.
Go to site.
Turner, M. (1991). Reading minds: the study of English in the age of cognitive
science. Princeton University Press. Mugar PE68.U5 T87
May 8 -- Papers due
Pinker, How the mind works
The chapter titles in Pinker's How the Mind Works are sometimes opaque. Here
is a review of the contents to assist in integrating this material into the
course and to help students in choosing what material they want to cover
in the class section when they are the discussion leader.
Chapter 1: "Standard equipment"
A grab bag of topics introducing the book and Pinker's combining of two research
traditions on p. 23: "Cognitive science helps us o understand how a mind
is possible and what kind of mind we have. Evolutionary biology helps us
to understand why we have the kind of mind we have...Thinking is computation,
I claim, but that does not mean that the computer is a good metaphor for
the mind. The mind is a set of modules... the organization of our mental
modules comes from our genetic program, but that does not mean that there
is a gene for every trait ... the ultimate goal of natural selection is to
propagate genes, but that does not mean that the ultimate goal of people
is to propagate genes."
Chapter 2: "Thinking machines"
Neural networks, connectionism: p. 98-112
Critique of the connectionist paradigm 112-131
Consciousness p. 131-148
Chapter 3: "Revenge of the nerds"
Evolution of animal intelligence p. 149-185
Evolution of neural networks 177-197
Evolution of human intelligence 186-205
Cultural evolution 205-210
Chapter 4. "The mind's eye" (the visual
Examples of constraint satisfaction in the visual system
Shape from shading 242
Frames of reference, object recognition 256
Face recognition 272 Mental rotation, mental imagery 275
Chapter 5. "Good ideas" (categorization)
Introduces the debate on whether our brain is "overkill" for the environment
in which it evolved. 299-306
Stereotypes and racism 313
Infant categorization abilities 317
Folk theories (naive biology, psychology, math, statistics) 352
Chapter 6 "Hotheads" -- The role of emotion in
"how the mind works"
History of the division between reason and emotion 369
Neurological foundations of emotions 371
Pinker's thesis, p. 370: "...emotions are adaptations, well-engineered software
modules that work in harmony with the intellect and are indispensable to
the functioning of the whole mind...We often call an act "emotional" when
it is harmful o the social group, damaging to the actor's happiness in the
long run, uncontrollable and impervious to persuasion, or a product of
self-delusion... these outcomes are not malfunctions but precisely what we
would expect from well-engineered emotions."
Why we have emotions: An animal can not pursue all of its goals at once.
Perception of beauty 374
Disgust, food aversion 378
Discounting of future rewards 393
Selfishness, guilt, gratitude, sympathy, irrationality, 396
Romantic love 417
Chapter 7 "Family values"
The evolutionary psychology of social relations. Topics:
arranged marriage, altruism toward kin, parent-child conflict, sibling rivalry,
evolution of sex, human mating systems, male/female differences in sexual
behavior, role of appearance in mate-selection, status, friendship, war.
Chapter 8 "The meaning
How do we explain humans' interest in art, music, story-telling, religion,