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Cognitive Neuroscience (Psych 7215)
Tu 1:00 - 3:50, Spring 1998
Room D318
Department of Psychology, Muenzinger
Last Updated: February 17, 1998


Goals: Cognitive neuroscience is the study of cognitive processes using a variety of methods that seek to answer the question of ``how the brain thinks.'' This course will provide an introduction to the issues, methodologies, and central findings in this domain. We will start by covering some of the general issues surrounding the attempt to understand cognition from a biological perspective. Then, we will examine each of the major methodologies, including neuroimaging, animal models, computational models, brain damaged patients, developmental populations, and clinical populations. We will then cover a range of central findings in different cognitive domains including: perception and attention, learning and memory, language, and higher-level cognition. The emphasis throughout will be on understanding the nature of the underlying biological mechanisms, and how they give rise to characteristic cognitive phenomena.

Requirements: This is a graduate proseminar, and assumes that students have already taken the cognitive proseminar.

Format: The class will be a discussion-oriented seminar, with perhaps a few short lectures on basic issues interspersed where necessary. We will have a lively and engaging discussion of issues raised by the readings assigned for each seminar. Also, simulation models will be presented, which illustrate many of the basic concepts/issues at hand.

Readings: Will be original source papers/book chapters listed for each week. Especially at the beginning, some of the readings are somewhat general and contain more information than we will probably be discussing, so it is a good idea to read these ``strategically'' based on the topics shown for that week, and the preview discussion of the readings provided in the prior class session. In general, there is a lot of reading for each class session, since we are only meeting once per week, so it is up to you to allocate sufficient time during the week to read all of the papers! You will pay the price in many ways if you come to class unprepared (see below regarding participation & questions)!

Two copies of readings will be available for photocopying in Debbie Aguiar's office (Muenzinger D260). You may take one copy for up to 20 minutes for photocopying purposes only. These papers are placed here as a courtesy to you and other students; please do not abuse the privilege by keeping the provided copies, and be sure to refile papers in the correct folder when returning them.

Evaluation: Your grade will be based on five components in the following proportions:

Reading Questions: In order to ensure that the papers are read, ten (10) insightful questions must be brought to each class, and will be collected at the end of class. These questions are intended to get you thinking about the papers, and should be used as a basis for discussion during class. You should try to distribute your questions among the readings, with at least one question per each reading.

Neuroanatomy Quiz: A short (15 minute) quiz on neuroanatomical facts, just to make sure we all know what the major parts of the brain are! You will be expected to know all major brain areas and their ``cartoon'' functions as reviewed in class.

Midterm and Final Exams: The midterm will cover the first part of class on general issues and major methodologies, and the final will contain questions on the different cognitive domains covered in the second part of the class. Both exams will require synthesis and critical analysis of the readings.

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Next: Schedule

Randall C. O'Reilly
Tue Feb 17 11:48:53 MST 1998