We will examine a number of fundamental questions, issues, and findings in the study of infant and preschool cognition over the last 35 years and suggest some current prospects. We will pose, refine, and begin to answer some of the big questions about the nature of the human mind and its capacities. 

This course will provide a hands-on introduction to programming in Matlab with a special focus on applying it to create psychological experiments and to analyze human behavioral data. After a general introduction to the basic ingredients of programming (variables, loops, good programming styles etc.), we will use Matlab to write little experiments and to collect, analyze and plot real data. This will involve simple reaction time experiments but the course will also offer an introduction to collecting and analyzing 3D human movement data with the Polhemus motion tracking system. Course participants will be required to do small programming assignments.

Venue: Oktober 6 street 7, room 124. or Faculty tower green lab

The course provides an introduction into current-day philosophically inspired cognitive developmental theory and evolutionary perspectives of the nature of human concepts and their origins. The core reading for the course will be the book by Susan Carey entitled `The Origin of Concepts` (OUP, 2009). The in-depth reading and discussion of this representative book and some additional papers will cover the comparative analysis of the nature of processes of conceptual change, reorganization, and theory construction in cognitive development on the one hand, and in history of science, on the other.

Venue: Oktober 6 street 7, Room 103.

From social cognition to social phenomena

Course description

What are the psychological bases of the rich social interactions and cultural life that characterise human societies? This course will review some of the answers provided by recent studies in cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology and social anthropology. It will cover a wide range of topics related to social cognition and human sociality, including:

  • Mind reading
  • Naive sociology
  • Communication, social learning, imitation
  • The biological evolution of social cognitive capacities
  • Models of Man in the social sciences
  • The cultural diversity of human psychology
  • How human psychology constrains culture
  • Models of cultural evolution
  • Co-operation and moral cognition

(Note that some key themes will be omitted. Joint action, for instance, has been taught in N. Sebanz and G. Knoblich’s research course. Mind-reading is a key ability that ground most aspects of our social life, but it will be dealt more thoroughly in D. Samson’s elective course. I have also included no brain studies).

The course is structured in three parts that focus on different aspects of social cognition and human sociality. The first parts is focused on the social cognitive skills that humans have. It will include sessions on mind-reading, social perception and naïve sociology, and the biological evolution of social cognition. The two last parts are focused on culture and cognition. The second part will review social scientists’ take on human psychology and how it influences their understanding of social phenomena. The third part will deal with specific themes in cognition and culture: morality, religion and science.

Venue; Oktober 6 street 7, room 103.

Course description: This course aims at improving oral and written presentation skills that are vital for Cognitive Scientists. How does one write an abstract, a methods section, or a results section for an empirical paper? How can experimental results be presented most effectively? What are good strategies for dealing with reviewers’ comments when revising a paper? How does one write a review? What is important to keep in mind when writing a research proposal? What makes for a good oral presentation? Course participants will learn about all of these and many more aspects of exposition through hands-on experience.


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will

•           know the basics of writing an empirical paper

•           know what to look out for when writing a research proposal

•           know how to best visualize empirical results or predictions

•           be familiar with the publishing process

•           have gained practice in preparing a poster

•           have gained insight into how to improve their oral presentation skills


Course Requirements: completion of writing assignments; presentation of posters and talks; regular attendance; participation in discussion

Venue:Oktober 6 street 7, room 103.