Foundations & Cognitive Architecture

A third cluster, which cuts across the first two areas and also encompasses other theoretical fields in which RuCCS has particular strength, concerns the question of the architecture of the cognitive system. This includes the nature of the underlying (computational) mechanisms of cognition, as well as the way in which these mechanisms encode information and the way that both the information and the mechanisms may change over time through learning or development. These are among basic theoretical and foundational questions on which RuCCS members have written extensively. For example, Jerry Fodor, Zenon Pylyshyn, Brian McLaughlin and Robert Matthews have written on constraints on Cognitive Architecture, including its modularity and the requirements placed on it by the empirical facts of systematicity and productivity. These writers have argued, among other things, that the representational systems provided by the architecture must meet certain general but powerful constraints which exclude, for example, "prototypes" or other noncompositional representational system, from being by itself adequate to the task. Similarly, Pylyshyn has written extensively on the inadequacy of such special forms of representations as those that we are intuitively drawn to in explaining the nature of mental imagery, known as the "picture theory" of representations underlying mental imagery. Areas in which RuCCS faculty have been leaders involve an analysis of the nature of concepts and their mental representation, the nature of mental representations, and the fundamental problems faced by Connectionist and other nonsymbolic models in addressing the phenomena of human cognition (on which Fodor, Pylyshyn, McLaughlin and Alan Prince have written extensively).

Some RuCCS members or associates are concerned with the problem of representing knowledge in general (Thorne McCarty, Hyam Hirsh, Alex Borgida) or in particular domains, such as language or vision or planning and problem-solving (see the description of relevant research clusters). Some are concerned with understanding how representations change in response to relevant information -- i.e., learning in persons and machines (Hirsh and Schmidt in the case of general knowledge; Fodor, Jane Grimshaw, Matthews, Prince, Karin Stromswold in the case of language; Leslie and Kovacs in the case of the development of the cognitive and visual system in infancy). Others are concerned to show how certain mechanisms are innate and/or universal or how they develop ontogenetically. For example, Alan Leslie has shown that sophisticated cognitive mechanisms are present at very early stages of infancy (e.g. perception of causation and objecthood), whereas other mechanisms take a number of years to develop (e.g. ascribing mental states, such as beliefs and desires, to others). Rochel Gellman’s work on the acquisition of numerical competence falls in this category since it seeks universal cognitive mechanisms that can form the basis of this competence. Other RuCCS members (Ilona Kovacs, Randy Gallistel) have a strong connection with the neuroscience community and are concerned with the question of how behavioral and neural methods and findings can inform one another in the pursuit of more adequate theories.

The study of universals of language and perception also sheds light on the nature of the cognitive architecture. In this vein Grimshaw and Prince have argued that both phonological and syntactic differences among languages can be accounted for by the ordering which they place on a finite set of universal but violable constraints. Stromswold has analyzed empirical evidence showing that certain structures are acquired despite impoverished evidence that lacks negative feedback. Mark Baker has extensively documented the enormous commonality that lies below the surface of the world’s languages. Michael Leyton, Jacob Feldman have shown that certain primitive form properties may be the (possibly innate and universal) basis for the encoding of shape in general.

The development of computational models of cognition raises both philosophical and methodological questions that many RuCCS members have addressed (e.g. Steven Stich, Fodor, Pylyshyn). From the particular perspective of RuCCS researchers, the attempt to build specific computational models in domains such as language comprehension and visual perception (especially in the work of Michael Leyton, Feldman and Manish Singh) goes hand in hand with designing an underlying architecture that satisfy strong computational, linguistic, geometrical and psychological constraints. When this is done then the model's match to the observed human behavior is seen to be an inescapable consequence of that architecture, rather than based on mere mimicry. For example, Grimshaw and Prince have investigated the architectural requirements of a model of human parsing based on principles developed from Prince et al's Optimality Theory.

RuCCS participates in a graduate training program in perceptual science supported by an IGERT grant from the National Science Foundation.

Training in perception is an interdisciplinary effort designed to give students a solid background in basic perceptual phenomena and formal models of perception drawn from computer science. Training emphasizes both empirical and theoretical issues, and this is accomplished through jointly-supervised research projects and cross-disciplinary course work. The perception community at Rutgers, drawn from the Departments of Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Linguistics, as well as RuCCS and the Laboratory of Vision Research, covers a wide variety of topics in both early and high-level perception. Faculty maintain active and visible research programs, with the participation of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.  Faculty in perception work at maintaining close ties across academic disciplines and individual areas of expertise, and actively collaborate in supervision of student research. 

Principal topics of  collaborative efforts are the perception of motion, texture, color, shape and depth, attention, eye movements, motor control, object recognition and classification, with application to both human and machine perception.  

Training centers around the jointly-supervised research and also relevant cross-disciplinary courses.  These courses, whose development was supported by the NSF IGERT  grant, include two foundational courses in Computer Science (CS 503, Computational Thinking, and CS 504, Computational Modeling) which are structured to give all students – regardless of undergraduate experience in computer science – a thorough grounding in the development of computational and cognitive models and their application to human and computational perception.  An interdisciplinary laboratory course (Perceptual Science 521, 522, Integrated Methods in Perceptual Science), led by interdisciplinary faculty, provide groups of students with the opportunity to work in teams on original projects that combine computational and experimental aspects.  

Research Directions at RuCCS

There are several distinct foci in the current research directions adopted by participants in the Center for Cognitive Science.

  1. One focus is on fundamental research concerned with understanding the nature of the cognitive processor -- of the architecture of the mind. This research, which involves both theoretical and empirical studies, is concerned with such issues as the processor's resource limits, its memory structures, the forms of representation(s) it uses, the basic operations it makes available, the discipline of sequential and/or parallel execution it permits, restrictions on interprocess communication, decomposition of the processors into modular components, and so on. These are all questions that concern the architecture of the cognitive processor, including its perceptual, memory, reasoning, and motor control capacities.
  2. A second and complementary focus involves fundamental research into the knowledge and the strategies that people bring to bear in reasoning and in solving problems using the architectural resources provided. This pursuit raises issues of knowledge-acquisition, learning, and representation, and makes close contact with purely formal and computational studies in computational logic and artificial intelligence.
  3. A third focus is on relating these research issues to the data of biological science -- particularly to the mechanisms studied in neuroscience, and the more microscopic mechanisms studied in cellular biology, biochemistry and genetics. It also involves relating cognitive theories to the data of clinical neurology.
  4. A fourth focus, which brings together all three of the above areas, concerns the process of perception, both human and machine. The main focus so far has been on vision, visual attention, and the perception of spatial layout. The Laboratory of Vision Research, under the direction of Bela Julesz, and several departments -- notable psychology and biomedical engineering -- have strong research programs in vision research.
  5. A fifth focus is concerned with investigations of language competence and language use. Language acquisition, language universals, and linguistic performance provide evidence for inferring the nature of mental processes, as well as for the design of models of linguistic capacities. Currently a theoretical approach, called Optimality Theory (see the Optimality Archive) provides a major focus, applying universal principles of language and a form of constraint satisfaction technique to linguistic research. RuCCS theoretical and computational linguists have been developing approaches to linguistic structure within Optimality Theory, which derives the grammar of particular languages from universal constraints.
  6. A sixth focus brings the empirical research into contact with traditional questions in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, epistemology, and also philosophical logic. Rutgers has a particularly strong philosophy group whose members have been concerned with such fundamental issues in cognitive science as the nature of meaning and the foundations of computational, cognitive and intentional processes.
  7. Finally, many of the research programs sketched above have practical applications in a number of areas of active investigation at Rutgers. Some of these are:
    • Application of studies in human and computer vision and attention to the design of remote operation tools, including teleoperation, telerobotics, telelearning and teleconferencing aids.
    • Studies of the process of design, and the development of design-aids in selected domains -- particularly aids to engineering and software design.
    • Studies of the human-machine interface and the relationship of this design problem to the study of bottlenecks in human information processing. In general, this pursuit is concerned with providing data to help optimize the distribution of labor between human and machine skills.
    • The study of computational aids for training, education, collaborative work, and group communication.

Please use Degree Navigator to generate an academic report for the Cognitive Science minor: http://nbdn.rutgers.edu. Degree Navigator is an advising tool designed to help students make informed decisions regarding their academic progress. It allows you to manage your general education, major, and minor requirements.

 

General Description of the Minor Program

Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary area of scholarship concerned with understanding the nature and development of such intelligent capacities as perception, language, reasoning, planning, problem-solving, and related skills, whether these capacities are instantiated in biological or artificial systems. The goal of the Cognitive Science minor is to provide a structured way for undergraduates to study and carry out research in cognitive science with guidance from faculty members affiliated with the Program in Cognitive Science. Any undergraduate may pursue a minor in cognitive science, regardless of his or her major. The interdisciplinary Cognitive Science minor is likely to be of particular interest to undergraduates majoring in fields that are directly related to cognitive science (e.g., computer science, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, biological sciences, mathematics, statistics, biomathematics, communication, and engineering).
 

Undergraduate Minor Requirements

The interdisciplinary minor in Cognitive Science consists of a minimum of 18 credits, distributed as follows:

  1. At least one of the following three courses:
    • 01:185:201/01:185:202 (offered each fall): Cognitive Science: A Multi-disciplinary Introduction (3 credit course, 1 credit recitation)
    • 01:185:301 (offered every other spring semester): Cognition and Decision Making (4 credits - includes recitation)
    • 01:185:411 (offered each spring): Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science I (4 credits - includes recitation)
  2. A minimum of 3 credits in formal or analytic methods used in cognitive science. 
    For the courses that automatically satisfy this requirement, click here

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    • 01:198:107: Computing for Math and the Sciences (3)
    • 01:198:111: Introduction to Computer Science (4)
    • 01:198:112: Data structures (4)
    • 01:198:205: Introduction to Discrete Structures I (4)
    • 01:198:206: Introduction to Discrete Structures II (4)
    • 01:615:305: Syntax (3)
    • 01:615:315: Phonology (3)
    • 01:615:325: Semantics (3)
    • 01:615:411: Morphology (3)
    • 01:640:300: Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning (3)
    • 01:640:338: Discrete and Probabilistic Models in Biology (3)
    • 01:640:339: Mathematical Models in the Social Sciences (3)
    • 01:640:361: Set Theory (3)
    • 01:640:428: Graph Theory (3)
    • 01:640:454: Combinatorics (3)
    • 01:640:461: Mathematical Logic (3)
    • 01:640:477: Mathematical Theory of Probability (3)
    • 01:640:478: Probability II (3)
    • 01:640:481: Mathematical Theory of Statistics (3)
    • 01:730:101: Logic, Reasoning, and Persuasion (3)
    • 01:730:201: Introduction to Logic (3)
    • 01:730:315: Applied Symbolic Logic (3)
    • 01:730:407: Intermediate Logic I (3)
    • 01:730:408: Intermediate Logic II (3)
    • 01:830:200: Quantitative Methods in Psychology (4)
    • 01:830:302: Sensation and Perception Lab (1)
    • 01:830:304: Memory Lab (1)
    • 01:830:306: Cognition Lab (1)
    • 01:830:312: Condition and Learning Lab (1)
    • 01:830:314: Physiological Psychology Lab (1)
    • 01:830:352: Psychology of Language Lab (1)
    • 01:960:379: Basic Probability and Statistics (3)
    • 01:960:381: Theory of Probability (3)
    • 01:960:382: Theory of Statistics (3)
    • 01:960:401: Basic Statistics for Research (3)

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  3. A minimum of an additional 12 elective credits. If you take more than the 1 required courses in the 185 curriculum (listed under 1.), any additional 185 course(s) will count as an elective. If you take more than 1 of the approved formal/analytic courses, any additional approved formal/analytic course may be counted as an elective.
    For the courses that automatically satisfy this requirement, click here.

    Click here to close list

    • 01:119:195: Brain, Mind and Behavior (3)
    • 01:146:245: Fundamentals of Neurobiology (for CBN majors) (3)
    • 01:146:295: Essentials in Cell Bio and Neuro (for non-CBN majors) (3)
    • 01:146:445: Advanced Neurobiology I (4)
    • 01:146:447: Advanced Neurobiology II (3)
    • 01:185:200: Apply Cog Sci to Probs in the Real & Virtual Worlds (3)
    • 01:185:253: Human Nature and Diversity (4)
    • 01:185:310: The Concept of Concepts in Cognitive Science (3)
    • 01:185:320: Research Methods in Cognitive Science (3)
    • 01:185:395: Research in Cognitive Science I (3)
    • 01:185:396: Research in Cognitive Science II (3)
    • 01:185:410: Language and Cognition (3) 
    • 01:185:412: Advanced Topics II - Cognitive Science (3)
    • 01:185:495: Research in Cognitive Science I (3) * caveat
    • 01:185:496: Research in Cognitive Science II (3) * caveat
    • 01:198:314: Principles of Programming Languages (4)
    • 01:198:344: Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms (4)
    • 01:198:405: Seminar in Computers and Society (3)
    • 01:198:415: Compilers (4)
    • 01:198:428: Introduction to Computer Graphics (4)
    • 01:198:440: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (4)
    • 01:198:452: Formal Languages and Automata (3)
    • 01:447:380: Genetics (4)
    • 01:447:384: Genetics Analysis I (4)
    • 01:447:385: Genetics Analysis II (4)
    • 01:447:410: Research in Genetics-Writing Intensive (3)
    • 01:447:484: Behavioral and Neural Genetics (3)
    • 01:615:201: Introduction to Linguistic Theory (3)
    • 01:615:330: Historical Linguistics (3)
    • 01:615:350: Pragmatics (3)
    • 01:615:360: Theories of Language (3)
    • 01:615:371: Psychology of Language (3)
    • 01:615:373: Language Acquisition (3)
    • 01:615:421: Language Typology (3)
    • 01:615:431: Investigations into an Unfamiliar Language (3)
    • 01:615:433: Language Acquisition (3)
    • 01:615:435: Experimental Methodologies in Language Acquisition (3)
    • 01:615:441: Linguistics and Cognitive Science (3)
    • 01:615:445: Language and Cognition (3)
    • 01:615:451: Phonetics (3)
    • 01:615:471: Selected Topics in Linguistics (3)
    • 01:615:491: Practicum in Linguistics (3)
    • 01:730:210: Philosophy of Language (3)
    • 01:730:220: Theory of Knowledge (3)
    • 01:730:253: Human Nature and Diversity (4)
    • 01:730:328: Philosophy of Psychology (3)
    • 01:730:329: Minds, Machines and Persons (3)
    • 01:730:360: Philosophical Aspects of Cognitive Science (3)
    • 01:730:412: Epistemology (3)
    • 01:730:418: Philosophy of Science (3)
    • 01:730:419: Philosophy of Perception (3)
    • 01:730:420: Philosophy of Language (3)
    • 01:730:422: Philosophy of Logic (3)
    • 01:730:424: The Logic of Decision (3)
    • 01:730:425: Philosophy of Mind (3)
    • 01:730:428: Topics in the Philosophy of Psychology (3)
    • 01:830:301: Sensation and Perception (3)
    • 01:830:303: Memory (3)
    • 01:830:305: Cognition (3)
    • 01:830:307: Perception in Cognitive Science (3)
    • 01:830:310: Neuropsychology (3)
    • 01:830:311: Conditioning and Learning (3)
    • 01:830:313: Physiological Psychology (3)
    • 01:830:351: Psychology of Language I (3)
    • 01:830:353: Language Acquisition (3)
    • 01:830:361: Developmental Psychobiology (3)
    • 01:830:401: Advanced Topics in Human Cognition (3)
    • 01:830:402: Advanced Topics in Human Cognition (WI) (3)
    • 01:830:410: Advanced Topics in Psychobiology (3)
    • 01:830:411: Advanced Topics in Psychobiology WI (3)
    • 01:830:412: Neuropsychopharmacology (3)
    • 01:830:463: Behavioral Pharmacology (3)
    • 01:830:480: Advanced Topics in Visual Perception (3)
    • 01:830:484: Language Acquisition (3)
    • 01:940:363: Bilingualism in the Spanish-Speaking World (3)
    • 01:940:368: The Bilingual Mind (3)
    • 01:960:384: Intermediate Statistical Analysis (3)
    • 14:125:405: Introduction to Neural Processes (3)
    • 14:125:410: Sensory Processes, Mechanisms, Computer Models (3)

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This course list will be updated periodically as appropriate.

 

Additional requirements:

  1. Grades of C or better must be earned in all courses counted toward the minor.
  2. No more than 4 credits at the 100-level may be counted towards the minor.
  3. At least half of the credits towards the minor must be at the 300-level or above.
  4. The same course cannot be used to fulfill both the formal/analytic and elective requirements.
  5. No more than two courses can be taken in any one department.

 

How to Declare a Minor in Cognitive Science

To declare a minor in Cognitive Science, please use myMajor: http://mymajor.sas.rutgers.edu. Students are recommended to declare the minor at the same time, or shortly after, they declare a major field of study.

Students should be aware that many of the courses listed have prerequisites and not all of the courses are offered each semester. Students should contact the departments that offer courses to learn about prerequisites and course schedules. Students may petition the Undergraduate Program Director, Dr. Mary Rigdon, to have additional courses count as formal/analytic or elective courses; email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Cognitive Science Minor Program - Course Offerings

The courses below are offered in the subject area of Cognitive Science. Other courses satisfying the requirements of the minor are offered in areas such as Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, Psychology and others. These courses are outlined in the above section, and can be looked up at the Rutgers online schedule of classes. [if this link is broken, go to the Rutgers main page http://www.rutgers.edu, select "current students" and then "schedule of classes".]

01:185:200 Apply Cog Sci to Problems in the Real & Virtual Worlds (3)

Examines how research findings have informed our understanding of human cognition, the role of essential processes from neurobiology, perception, and attention, and how these are used when we search, select and remember information, and when we make decisions.
Pre- or corequisite: A course in computer science, linguistics, philosophy, or psychology; or permission of instructor. 

01:185:201/202Cognitive Science: A Multi-disciplinary Introduction (3 credit course, 1 credit recitation)

A Multi-disciplinary Introduction is a lecture/recitation course taught by a single instructor. This course introduces students to the diverse set of concepts and formal and experimental techniques used in cognitive science. Taught in Fall semesters.
Pre- or corequisite: A course in computer science, linguistics, philosophy, or psychology; or permission of instructor.

01:185:253 Human Diversity (3)

Critical analysis of facts, theories, and philosophical issues regarding human diversity in a variety of domains. May include: sex and gender; race; religion; diet; morality and norms; conceptions of the self; perceptions and cognition. Credit not given for both this course and 01:730:253.

01:185:301 Cognition and Decision Making (4)

Cognition and Decision Making is a lecture/recitation course taught by a single instructor. This course introduces students to the subjects of reasoning and decision-making as a means of exploring a number of issues central to the field of cognitive science. Taught in Spring semesters.
Pre- or corequisite: A course in computer science, linguistics, philosophy, or psychology; or permission of instructor.
Course satisfies Core Curriculum: Quantitative and Formal Reasoning (QQ). 

01:185:310    The Concepts of Concepts in Cognitive Science (3)

The Concepts of "Concepts" in Cognitive Science is a lecture course taught by a single instructor. This course introduces students to the study of concepts from a broad interdisciplinary point of view, surveying how concepts are understood in Psychology, Philosophy, Computer Science and Neuroscience. Emphasis is on both differences in how these various disciplines view concepts as well as commonalities in the underlying ideas.
 

01:185:320 Research Methods in Cognitive Science (3)

Prereq: 185:201 or 185:411 or 185:301
Research Methods in Cognitive Science is a lecture course taught by a single instructor. This course introduces students to a foundation for thinking critically about research in cognitive science. Topics may include the scientific method and consideration of strengths and weaknesses of a range of approaches, statistical reasoning and principles for ethical conduct of research.

01:185:395 Research in Cognitive Science (3)

Prereq: Permission of Instructor
May be taken more than once.
Research in Cognitive Science is a supervised research internship in cognitive science. May include laboratory/library research. Final written report required. Pre-requisite: permission of instructor.

01:185:396 Research in Cognitive Science (3)

Prereq: Permission of Instructor
May be taken more than once.
Research in Cognitive Science is a supervised research internship in cognitive science. May include laboratory/library research. Final written report required. Pre-requisite: permission of instructor.

01:185:410 Language and Cognition (3)

Language and Cognition is a lecture course taught by a single instructor. Topics may include speech perception, language acquisition, priming, disorders, speech errors, sentence processing, memory, color, and numerosity.
Pre- or corequisite: 01:185:201 & 202 and 01:615:201; or permission of instructor.
Course satisfies Core Curriculum: Quantitative and Formal Reasoning (QQ).

01:185:411 Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science I (4)

Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science is a seminar course team-taught by faculty affiliated with the Center for Cognitive Science. Faculty from psychology, computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and cognitive science will give single seminars in which they show how these diverse set of concepts and formal and experimental techniques are used to address a particular problem within cognitive science. Taught in Spring semesters.

01:185:412 Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science II (3)

Seminar on computational, linguistic, philosophical, and psychological approaches taken within cognitive sciences through a survey of topics such as reasoning, language, vision, and cognitive development.

01:185:495 Research in Cognitive Science I (3)

Research in Cognitive Science is a supervised research experience or independent study. May include library or laboratory research. Written agreement with supervisor and final written report required.
Pre- or co-requisites: 01:185:201 OR 01:185:411, an approved formal/analytic course, and permission of instructor and undergraduate program director. Open only to juniors and seniors.

01:185:496 Research in Cognitive Science II (3)

Research in Cognitive Science is a supervised research experience or independent study. May include library or laboratory research. Written agreement with supervisor and final written report required.
Pre- or co-requisites: 01:185:201 OR 01:185:411, an approved formal/analytic course, and permission of instructor and undergraduate program director. Open only to juniors and seniors.

* Students who are interested in taking Cognitive Science 495 or Cognitive Science 496 are responsible for finding professors interested in supervising their research, and should approach faculty whose research interests are closest to theirs. Students interested in these courses should be aware that many professors expect a two semester commitment. In addition, students should realize that faculty who participate in the Cognitive Science Center, and hence, are likely to sponsor independent research courses, come from different departments (mainly philosophy, linguistics, computer science, and psychology), and these departments have different perspectives on research courses. For example, in psychology and, to a lesser extent, computer science, students frequently take research courses, but these research courses are usually research internships, with the student working on an ongoing project in the faculty sponsor's lab. In philosophy & linguistics, few students do supervised research projects, but when they do, their research may be somewhat more independent.

Special Permission Required, contact Sue Cosentino at 848-445-1625 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact RuCCS

Psychology Building Addition
152 Frelinghuysen Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854-8020


Phone:

  • 848-445-1625
  • 848-445-6660
  • 848-445-0635


Fax:

  • 732-445-6715