Cognitive Science

Director of undergraduate studies: Joshua Knobe, 102 C, 432-1699,;


Professors Woo-kyoung Ahn (Psychology), Stephen Anderson (Linguistics), Amy Arnsten (School of Medicine), John Bargh (Psychology), Paul Bloom (Chair) (Psychology), Hal Blumenfeld (School of Medicine), Marvin Chun (Psychology), Michael Della Rocca (Philosophy), Ravi Dhar (School of Management), Julie Dorsey (Computer Science), Carol Fowler (Adjunct) (Psychology), Robert Frank (Linguistics), David Gelernter (Computer Science), Tamar Gendler (Philosophy), Laurence Horn (Linguistics), Marcia Johnson (Psychology), Dan Kahan (Law School), Frank Keil (Psychology, Linguistics), Joshua Knobe (Philosophy), Gregory McCarthy (Psychology), Drew McDermott (Computer Science), Nathan Novemsky (School of Management, Psychology), Rhea Paul (School of Medicine), Kenneth Pugh (School of Medicine), Ian Quinn (Music), Holly Rushmeier (Computer Science), Brian Scholl (Psychology), Sun-Joo Shin (Philosophy), Zoltán Szabó (Philosophy), Fred Volkmar (School of Medicine), Xiao-Jing Wang (School of Medicine), David Watts (Anthropology), Bruce Wexler (School of Medicine), Karen Wynn (Psychology), Raffaella Zanuttini (Linguistics), Steven Zucker (Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering)

Associate Professors Keith Chen (School of Management), Daeyeol Lee (School of Medicine), James Mazer (School of Medicine), Kevin Pelphrey (School of Medicine), Maria Piñango (Linguistics), Laurie Santos (Psychology), Brian Scassellati (Computer Science)

Assistant Professors Daylian Cain (School of Management), Yarrow Dunham (Psychology), Gaja Jarosz (Linguistics), Hedy Kober (School of Medicine), George Newman (School of Management), Ève Poudrier (Music), David Rand (Psychology), Gregory Samanez-Larkin (Psychology)

Lecturer Kathryn Davidson

Cognitive science explores the nature of cognitive processes such as perception, reasoning, memory, attention, language, decision making, imagery, motor control, and problem solving. The goal of cognitive science, stated simply, is to understand how the mind works. Cognitive science is an inherently interdisciplinary endeavor, drawing on tools and ideas from fields such as psychology, computer science, linguistics, philosophy, economics, and neuroscience. Approaches include empirical studies of the ontogenetic and phylogenetic development of cognitive abilities, experimental work on cognitive processing in adults, attempts to understand perception and cognition based on patterns of breakdown in pathology, computational and robotic research that strives to simulate aspects of cognition and behavior, neuroscientific investigations of the neural bases of cognition using neural recording and brain scanning, and the development of philosophical theories of the nature of mind.

Introductory course An introductory survey course, CGSC 110, is normally taken by the end of the fall term of the sophomore year and prior to admission to the major.

The major for the Class of 2015 Students in the Class of 2015 may fulfill the requirements of the Cognitive Science major that were in place when they entered the major, as described in previous editions of this bulletin. Alternatively, they may fulfill the requirements for the major as described below for the Class of 2016 and subsequent classes.

Requirements of the major for the Class of 2016 and subsequent classes Fourteen term courses, for a total of thirteen course credits, are required for the major, including the introductory course and the senior requirement. Each major program must include the elements described below. The particular selection of courses must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies in order to assure overall coherence.

A breadth requirement introduces students to the subfields of cognitive science. Each student is required to take a course from four of the following six areas:

1. Computer science: CPSC 201

2. Economics and decision making: ECON 159, PSYC 553

3. Linguistics: LING 110, 116, 117, 130, 232, 253

4. Neuroscience: CGSC 201, MCDB 320, PSYC 160, 270

5. Philosophy: PHIL 126, 181, 269, 270, 271

6. Psychology: PSYC 110, 140, 304

Students also fulfill a depth requirement by completing six courses that focus on a specific topic or area in cognitive science. The depth courses must be chosen from at least two disciplines, and are typically drawn from the six cognitive science subfields. It may be possible to draw depth courses from other fields when necessary to explore the student's focal topic, in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. All six depth courses must be at the intermediate or advanced level; for most disciplines, courses numbered 300 or above fulfill the requirement. With permission of the director of undergraduate studies, up to one directed reading or research course may count toward the depth requirement.

Because formal techniques are fundamental to cognitive science, one skills course is required, preferably prior to the senior year. Courses that fulfill the skills requirement include CPSC 112, 202, LING 224, PSYC 200, and 270. Other courses may fulfill this requirement with permission of the director of undergraduate studies. No course may be used to fulfill more than one requirement for the major.

In the junior year, students are required to take CGSC 395, a half-credit colloquium in which majors discuss current issues and research in cognitive science and select a senior essay topic.

Senior requirement In the senior year, students take CGSC 491, a half-credit capstone course in which the senior essay is written. Students in the course meet regularly with one another and with the faculty to discuss current work in cognitive science and their own developing research projects.

Credit/D/Fail Courses taken Credit/D/Fail may not be counted toward the requirements of the major, except with permission of the director of undergraduate studies.

Application to the major Students can apply to enter the major at any point after the freshman year. Applications must be made in writing to the director of undergraduate studies. Applications must include (a) an official or unofficial transcript of work at Yale, (b) a brief statement of purpose, which indicates academic interests and expected focus within the areas of the Cognitive Science major, and (c) a list of the six upper-level courses that the student plans to take as part of the research focus. Application forms and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the program's Web site.


Prerequisite CGSC 110

Number of courses 14 term courses, for a total of 13 course credits (incl prereq and senior req)

Specific course required CGSC 395

Distribution of courses 1 course each in 4 of 6 subfields, as specified; 6 courses in a specific topic or area, as specified; 1 skills course, as specified

Senior requirement Senior essay (CGSC 491)

Introductory Courses

CGSC 110a / PSYC 130a, Introduction to Cognitive Science Brian Scholl

An introduction to the interdisciplinary study of how the mind works. Discussion of tools, theories, and assumptions from psychology, computer science, neuroscience, linguistics, and philosophy.  SO
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

* CGSC 215a / LING 215a, Sign Languages and the Mind Staff

Analysis of sign languages at different levels of linguistic structure, such as phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. Related aspects of cognition in the visual modality, including working memory, the neural bases for sign language, and deafness and language development. Ways in which perspectives from manual/visual language study can inform general theories of linguistic structure, plasticity, and domain generality in cognitive science.  SO
Th 2:30pm-4:20pm

CGSC 216b / LING 116b, Cognitive Science of Language Robert Frank

The study of language from the perspective of cognitive science. Exploration of mental structures that underlie the human ability to learn and process language, drawing on studies of normal and atypical language development and processing, brain imaging, neuropsychology, and computational modeling. Innate linguistic structure vs. determination by experience and culture; the relation between linguistic and nonlinguistic cognition in the domains of decision making, social cognition, and musical cognition; the degree to which language shapes perceptions of color, number, space, and gender.  SO
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

CGSC 282b / PHIL 182b / PSYC 182b, Perspectives on Human Nature Staff

Comparison of philosophical and psychological perspectives on human nature. Nietzsche on morality, paired with contemporary work on the psychology of moral judgment; Marx on religion, paired with systematic research on the science of religious belief; Schopenhauer paired with social psychology on happiness.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:20pm

Advanced Courses

CGSC 315b / PSYC 315b, The Modern Unconscious John Bargh

The notion of the unconscious mind traced from the early 1800s through Freud to present-day cognitive science, with a focus on the past thirty years. The power and function of the unconscious as a pervasive part of normal everyday human functioning. Readings from philosophy of mind and evolutionary biology.  SO
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* CGSC 358a / MUSI 358a, Cognition of Musical Rhythm Ève Poudrier

An introduction to the study of musical rhythm from the dual perspective of music theory and psychology. The nature of musical temporality explored through study of works from a variety of musical styles and through a survey of relevant experimental work on rhythm perception and production. Topics include cognitive limits on the perception of temporal structures; categorical perception and the role of memory; attention, entrainment, and sensorimotor synchronization; expressive timing; and complex rhythmic structures.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* CGSC 390b, Junior Seminar in Cognitive Science Kathryn Zaremba

Discussion of historically important papers in cognitive science. Topics are varied and reflect student interests. Some attention to planning for the senior project. Intended for juniors in the Cognitive Science major.
Th 2:30pm-4:20pm

* CGSC 403b / HUMS 458b / PHIL 470b / PSYC 403b, Habits of Mind Paul Bloom and Tamar Gendler

The nature of habits of mind—the instinctive or learned, and often unconscious, processes that underlie human thought and automatic behaviors. How habits are acquired and how they can be reshaped, their relation to deliberate decisions, and their role in domains as diverse as infant development, procrastination, racial stereotyping, and the enjoyment of fiction. Research and theory from fields in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Prerequisites: one course in psychology and one in philosophy, or with permission of instructor.
M 7pm-8:50pm

* CGSC 423a / PSYC 423a, Cognitive Science of Good and Evil Paul Bloom

Feelings and sentiments that relate to morality, including empathy, disgust, anger, shame, guilt, envy, lust, and love. The evolution of such moral emotions, ways in which they are influenced by culture, and whether they are reliable guides to moral thought and action. Perspectives from philosophy, social and developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, theology, and law.  SO
T 2:30pm-4:20pm

* CGSC 425b / PSYC 425b, Social Perception Brian Scholl

Connections between visual perception, among the earliest and most basic of human cognitive processes, and social cognition, among the most advanced forms of higher-level cognition. The perception of animacy, agency, and goal-directedness; biological motion; face perception (including the perception of facial attractiveness); gaze processing and social attention; "thin-slicing" and "perceptual stereotypes"; and social and cultural influences on perception.  SO
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* CGSC 426a / PHIL 426a / PSYC 422a, The Cognitive Science of Morality Joshua Knobe

Introduction to the emerging field of moral cognition. Focus on questions about the philosophical significance of psychological findings. Topics include the role of emotion in moral judgment; the significance of character traits in virtue ethics and personality psychology; the reliability of intuitions and the psychological processes that underlie them.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

Courses for Majors

* CGSC 395a, Junior Colloquium in Cognitive Science Kathryn Zaremba

Survey of contemporary issues and current research in cognitive science. By the end of the term, students select a research topic for the senior essay. Enrollment limited to Cognitive Science majors.  ½ Course cr
W 2:30pm-4:20pm

* CGSC 471a and CGSC 472b, Directed Research in Cognitive Science Joshua Knobe

Research projects for qualified students. The student must be supervised by a member of the Cognitive Science faculty, who sets the requirements and directs the research. To register, a student must submit a written plan of study to the director of undergraduate studies and the faculty supervisor. The normal minimum requirement is a written report of the completed research, but individual faculty members may set alternative equivalent requirements. Only one term may be offered toward the major, with permission of the director of undergraduate studies; two terms may be offered toward the bachelor's degree.

* CGSC 473a and CGSC 474b, Directed Reading in Cognitive Science Joshua Knobe

Individual study for qualified students who wish to investigate an area of cognitive science not covered in regular courses. The student must be supervised by a member of the Cognitive Science faculty, who sets the requirements and meets regularly with the student. To register, a student must submit a written plan of study to the director of undergraduate studies and the faculty supervisor. The normal minimum requirement is a term paper, but individual faculty members may set alternative equivalent requirements. Only one term may be offered toward the major, with permission of the director of undergraduate studies; two terms may be offered toward the bachelor's degree.

CGSC 490a, Senior Colloquium Kathryn Zaremba

A research colloquium leading to the selection of a topic for the senior essay. Students attend regular colloquium presentations by outside scholars. Enrollment limited to Cognitive Science majors in the Class of 2015.  ½ Course cr
W 2:30pm-4:20pm

* CGSC 491b, Senior Project Kathryn Zaremba

A research colloquium leading to the completion of the senior essay. Students attend regular colloquium presentations. Enrollment limited to Cognitive Science majors.  ½ Course cr
W 2:30pm-4:20pm

Related Courses That May Count toward the Major

* CHLD 350a or b / PSYC 350a or b, Autism and Related Disorders Staff

Weekly seminar focusing on autism and related disorders of socialization. A series of lectures on topics in etiology, diagnosis and assessment, treatment and advocacy, and social neuroscience methods; topics cover infancy through adulthood. Supervised experience in the form of placement in a school, residence, or treatment setting for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Details about admission to the course are explained at the first course meeting. Prerequisite: an introductory psychology course.  SO
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

CPSC 112a or b, Introduction to Programming Staff

Development on the computer of programming skills, problem-solving methods, and selected applications. No previous experience with computers necessary.  QR

CPSC 201a or b, Introduction to Computer Science Staff

Introduction to the concepts, techniques, and applications of computer science. Topics include computer systems (the design of computers and their languages); theoretical foundations of computing (computability, complexity, algorithm design); and artificial intelligence (the organization of knowledge and its representation for efficient search). Examples stress the importance of different problem-solving methods. After CPSC 112 or equivalent.  QR
Math: Stat/Applied Math

CPSC 202a, Mathematical Tools for Computer Science Dana Angluin

Introduction to formal methods for reasoning and to mathematical techniques basic to computer science. Topics include propositional logic, discrete mathematics, and linear algebra. Emphasis on applications to computer science: recurrences, sorting, graph traversal, Gaussian elimination.  QR
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

CPSC 470a, Artificial Intelligence Drew McDermott

Introduction to artificial intelligence research, focusing on reasoning and perception. Topics include knowledge representation, predicate calculus, temporal reasoning, vision, robotics, planning, and learning. After CPSC 201 and 202.  QR
MWF 10:30am-11:20am

ECON 159a, Game Theory Zvika Neeman

An introduction to game theory and strategic thinking. Ideas such as dominance, backward induction, Nash equilibrium, evolutionary stability, commitment, credibility, asymmetric information, adverse selection, and signaling are applied to games played in class and to examples drawn from economics, politics, the movies, and elsewhere. After introductory microeconomics. No prior knowledge of game theory assumed.  QR, SO
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

LING 110a, Language: Introduction to Linguistics Jim Wood

The goals and methods of linguistics. Basic concepts in phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. Techniques of linguistic analysis and construction of linguistic models. Trends in modern linguistics. The relation of linguistics to psychology, logic, and other disciplines.  SO
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

LING 220b / PSYC 318b, General Phonetics Argyro Katsika

Investigation of possible ways to describe the speech sounds of human languages. Acoustics and physiology of speech; computer synthesis of speech; practical exercises in producing and transcribing sounds. (Formerly LING 120)  SO
WF 9am-10:15am

* LING 224a, Formal Foundations of Linguistic Theories Robert Frank

Study of formal systems that play an important role in the scientific study of language. Exploration of a range of mathematical structures and techniques; demonstrations of their application in theories of grammatical competence and performance including set theory, graphs and discrete structures, algebras, formal language, and automata theory. Evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of existing formal theories of linguistic knowledge.QR, SO
MW 1pm-2:15pm

LING 227b / PSYC 327b, Language and Computation Gaja Jarosz

Design and analysis of computational models of language. Topics include finite state tools, computational morphology and phonology, grammar and parsing, lexical semantics, and the use of linguistic models in applied problems. Prerequisite: Prior programming experience or permission of instructor. (Formerly LING 141)  QR, SO
TTh 4pm-5:15pm

LING 232a, Introduction to Phonological Analysis Staff

The structure of sound systems in particular languages. Phonemic and morphophonemic analysis, distinctive-feature theory, formulation of rules, and problems of rule interpretation. Emphasis on problem solving. Prerequisite: LING 220, or a grade of B or above in LING 110. (Formerly LING 132)  SO
Th 2:30pm-4:30pm

* LING 235b, Phonological Theory Gaja Jarosz

Topics in the architecture of a theory of sound structure. Motivations for replacing a system of ordered rules with a system of ranked constraints. Optimality theory: universals, violability, constraint types and their interactions. Interaction of phonology and morphology, as well as the relationship of phonological theory to language acquisition and learnability. Opacity, lexical phonology, and serial versions of optimality theory. Prerequisite: LING 232 or permission of instructor. (Formerly LING 135)  SORP
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

LING 253a, Syntax I Jim Wood

An introduction to the syntax of natural language. Generative syntactic theory and key theoretical concepts. Syntactic description and argumentation. Topics include the structure of clauses and noun phrases, movement operations, and the notion of parameter. (Formerly LING 153)  SO
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

LING 254b, Syntax II Raffaella Zanuttini

Recent developments in the principles and parameters approach to syntactic theory. In-depth exploration of theoretical and empirical issues in long-distance dependencies (island effects, dependency types, movement vs. binding), the character of syntactic structure (constituency, thematic mapping, functional categories), and the architecture of grammatical derivations (logical form, operations for structure building, anaphora). Prerequisite: LING 253.  SO
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

LING 263b, Semantics Ashwini Deo

Introduction to truth-conditional compositional semantics. Set theory, first- and higher-order logic, and the lambda calculus as they relate to the study of natural language meaning. Some attention to analyzing the meanings of tense/aspect markers, adverbs, and modals.  QR, SO
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

* LING 280b, Morphology Jim Wood

The theory of word structure within a formal grammar. Relation to other areas of grammar (syntax, phonology); basic units of word structure; types of morphology (inflection, derivation, compounding). Prerequisites: LING 232 and 253, or permission of instructor.  SO
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

MCDB 320a, Neurobiology Haig Keshishian and Paul Forscher

The excitability of the nerve cell membrane as a starting point for the study of molecular, cellular, and systems-level mechanisms underlying the generation and control of behavior. After a year of college-level chemistry; a course in physics is strongly recommended.  SC
MWF 11:35am-12:25pm

PHIL 126b, Introduction to Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant Keith DeRose

An introduction to major figures in the history of modern philosophy, with critical reading of works by Descartes, Malabranche, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Intended to be taken in conjunction with PHIL 125, although PHIL 125 is not a prerequisite.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

PHIL 267b, Mathematical Logic Sun-Joo Shin

An introduction to the metatheory of first-order logic, up to and including the completeness theorem for the first-order calculus. Introduction to the basic concepts of set theory. Prerequisite: PHIL 115 or permission of instructor.  QR
Math: Logic/Foundations
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

PHIL 271b / LING 271b, Philosophy of Language Bruno Whittle

An introduction to contemporary philosophy of language, organized around four broad topics: meaning, reference, context, and communication. Introduction to the use of logical notation.  HU
TTh 1:30pm-2:20pm

PSYC 110a or b, Introduction to Psychology Staff

A survey of major psychological approaches to the biological, cognitive, and social bases of behavior.  SO

PSYC 140a, Developmental Psychology Frank Keil

An introduction to research and theory on the development of perception, action, emotion, personality, language, and cognition from a cognitive science perspective. Focus on birth to adolescence in humans and other species. Prerequisite: PSYC 110.  SO
Psychology: Core
Psychology: Social Science
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

PSYC 150b, Social Psychology Marianne LaFrance

Study of social cognition, attitudes and persuasion, group processes, intergroup processes, prosocial behavior, aggression, and conformity. Theories, methodology, and applications of social psychology. Prerequisite: PSYC 110.  SO
Psychology: Core
Psychology: Social Science
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

PSYC 160a, The Human Brain Gregory McCarthy

Introduction to the neural bases of human psychological function, including social, cognitive, and affective processing. Preparation for more advanced courses in cognitive and social neuroscience. Topics include memory, reward processing, neuroeconomics, individual differences, emotion, social inferences, and clinical disorders. Neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neuropharmacology are also introduced.  SC
Psychology: Core
Psychology: Natural Science
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

PSYC 200b, Statistics Jaime Napier

Measures of central tendency, variability, association, and the application of probability concepts in determining the significance of research findings.  QR
MW 10:30am-11:20am

* PSYC 270b, Research Methods in Behavioral Neuroscience Nelson Donegan

Laboratory course in which students design and conduct research to study brain function and behavior. Emphasis on hands-on participation in behavioral and neuroscience techniques. Prerequisites: PSYC 160 or 170, and a course in statistics, or with permission of instructor.  SC
Psychology: Natural Science
Psychology: ResearchMethods
W 1pm-4pm