How can cognitive science inform policy-making? Can policy be improved by taking findings of cognitive science into account?
Traditional policy making assumes that citizens are rational agents who always take the best decisions for themselves. Yet, findings in behavioral economics and cognitive psychology show that it is not the case: people are “predictably irrational.” This fact might open new avenues for making policies that foster individual decisions that are better for both the individual taking them and society.
The course addresses both the method and the moral basis of the use of cognitive psychology in policy making. This includes issues in contemporary political philosophy regarding the legitimacy of using scientific theories about human behavior for political purposes. It also include issues in behavioral economics and a specification of its relevance to policy making

Course Structure
The course will include old fashioned lectures, seminars organised as discussion over . A lecture summarizes the main theoretical and empirical advances in each topic, and the seminar is devoted to the discussion of the reading material. Students are also required to write an essay on a topic agreed with the lecturers.
While explaining religion has been central to social anthropology from its beginnings, it has also become a focal topic of theoretical interest and empirical investigation in recent naturalistic approaches to the origins and social transmission of cumulative cultural knowledge. The course will explore and contrast different conceptual frameworks, methodological commitments and empirical traditions that underlie anthropological approaches to religion and ritual versus naturalistic approaches that attempt to explain religion by means of cognitive and developmental methodologies and cross-cultural experimental research. We shall examine the theoretical tensions and controversies that often characterize these alternative approaches while also providing an overview of newly emerging convergences and the growing scope for fruitful dialogue and methodological integration. As ritual practices and religious beliefs are arguably universal features of human culture, an interdisciplinary study can lend rich insights into the social and psychological mechanisms that shape their evolution and transmission.
Venue: Oktober 6 street 7, 1st floor, room 103.
Making music in groups is a widespread human activity and a powerful medium for nonverbal communication, social bonding, and cultural transmission. While essentially a vehicle for affective and aesthetic expression, group music making can also be viewed as a microcosm of social interaction to the extent that it draws on a broad spectrum of sensory, perceptual, cognitive, motor, and emotional processes that support collaborative behaviour more generally in everyday life. This course will address the mechanisms supporting human interaction through music from the perspectives of evolutionary biology, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. The aim is to survey and critically evaluate state-of-the-art research on musical interaction, focusing on why do we do it, how it works (and what happens when it doesn’t), and potential implications for pedagogy and applications in clinical settings.
In this course, we will read and discuss papers about the psychological factors that underpin decision-making, focusing on decisions taken when interacting with others.
The course will have three parts:
1. An introduction to decision theory and behavioural economics
Behavioral game theory is a subfield of behavioral economics, in which behavior is analyzed in terms of the costs and benefits it brings about. We will dedicate the first sessions to explaining the framework and its key notions, such as ‘bounded rationality’ and ‘cognitive biases’
2. Studies on other-regarding preferences
We will then look at choices in strategic contexts: that’s where game theory is relevant, because the benefits of the choices made also depend on what others’ choose. We will see that these decision depend on social preferences, which we will attempt to specify.
3. Studies on strategic decision making
The decisions taken when interacting with others also depend on how others are predicted to behave. We will investigate how these predictions are formed and their effects on decision-making.
This course will cover recent theories and empirical research on joint action. The focus will be on ongoing research in our lab. Specific topics include the role of thinking and planning ahead as well as research focusing on basic perceptual and motor processes that allow people to perform highly coordinated actions such as playing a piano duet together. We will discuss behavioral and neuroscience experiments with a focus on studies that have been conducted by members of our lab. The course will also include experimental demonstrations to provide an overview of different research methods that are used in joint action research.


-Sept 22, 29, Oct 6, 13, 20 and 27: Oct 6, 7 room 401

-Nov 3-dec 15: Oct 6,7 Room 201
This course introduces students to the ongoing research at the Cognitive Development Center. It provides an overview of contemporary theories and research techniques of cognitive development of human infants below 2 years of age, focusing on the domain of social cognition. The course also involves laboratory practice to familiarize students with research techniques including behavioral, eye-tracking and neuroimaging methods.
This course will be built around the contemporary research of vision. First, it will cover the classical approaches of low and high-level vision, visual learning, the neural implementation of perception and learning in the brain, and computational models. Next, it will critically evaluate the state-of-the-art and explore alternative approaches to the same issues. Specifically, it will discuss the probabilistic view on vision, and how it changes the research questions in focus. We will investigate how statistical learning, rule learning, perception and cue-combination as probabilistic inference can expand the range of interpretable phenomena in vision. We will also cover the issue of possible neural embodiment of such computations and review evidence that supports such an interpretation.
This course will give a broad overview of the fundamental concepts, findings, and methods in Cognitive Science, the interdisciplinary study of the mind. It will start with a short historical overview. The following five lectures will highlight important approaches to Cognitive Science that are represented at the department. Five more lectures will introduce important research methods in Cognitive Science using domains of study represented at the department. In the last session students will present research ideas.

This course will cover the basic topics of Experimental Statistics and Research Methods for Behavioral Sciences. It will comprise the subjects of scales, descriptive statistics, frequentist inferential statistics including independent and repeated measure t-tests, one- and two-way ANOVAs, effect sizes, correlational and regression analysis, and selected nonparametric methods. In addition, the basics of Bayesian statistics will be introduced and contrasted with frequentist statistics. The course will also survey the details of designing, conducting, analyzing, interpreting, and communicating scientific psychological research. Finally, students will learn how to use SPSS for statistical analysis.