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Cognitive science is the
interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge that is Education, taught and researched at the college or u ...
,
scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fac ...

scientific
study of the
mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fund ...

mind
and its processes with input from
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...

linguistics
,
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known ...

psychology
,
neuroscience Neuroscience is the of the . It is a science that combines , , , , , and to understand the fundamental and emergent properties of s, and s. The understanding of the biological basis of , , , , and has been described by as the "epic chal ...

neuroscience
,
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existen ...

philosophy
,
computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of , , and . Computer science ...
/
artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, ...

artificial intelligence
, and
anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. studies how language influences social life. studi ...
. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of
cognition Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as: attention, the formation of ...
(in a broad sense). Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform
information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of values of qualitative property, qualitative or quant ...

information
. Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
,
perception Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...

perception
,
memory Memory is the faculty of the by which or is , stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. If s could not be remembered, it would be impossible for language, r ...

memory
,
attention Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual funct ...

attention
,
reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ...

reasoning
, and
emotion Emotions are mental state, psychological states brought on by neurophysiology, neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or suffering, displeasure. There is currentl ...

emotion
; to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...

linguistics
,
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known ...

psychology
,
artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, ...

artificial intelligence
,
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existen ...

philosophy
,
neuroscience Neuroscience is the of the . It is a science that combines , , , , , and to understand the fundamental and emergent properties of s, and s. The understanding of the biological basis of , , , , and has been described by as the "epic chal ...

neuroscience
, and
anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. studies how language influences social life. studi ...
.
Thagard, Paul Paul Richard Thagard (; born 1950) is a Canadian philosopher who specializes in cognitive science, philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of science and medicine. Thagard is a professor emeritus of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is th ...

Cognitive Science
''
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy The ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (''SEP'') combines an online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British En ...
'' (Fall 2008 Edition),
Edward N. Zalta Edward Nouri Zalta (; born March 16, 1952) is an American philosopher who is a senior research scholar at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University , mottoeng = "The wind of freedom blows" , type = Private un ...
(ed.).
The typical analysis of cognitive science spans many levels of organization, from learning and decision to logic and planning; from
neural In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechani ...

neural
circuitry to modular brain organization. One of the fundamental concepts of cognitive science is that "thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures." The goal of cognitive science is to understand the principles of intelligence with the hope that this will lead to a better comprehension of the mind and of learning and to develop intelligent devices. The cognitive sciences began as an intellectual movement in the 1950s often referred to as the
cognitive revolution The cognitive revolution was an intellectual movement that began in the 1950s as an interdisciplinary study of the mind and its processes. It later became known collectively as cognitive science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary ...
.


History

The cognitive sciences began as an intellectual movement in the 1950s, called the
cognitive revolution The cognitive revolution was an intellectual movement that began in the 1950s as an interdisciplinary study of the mind and its processes. It later became known collectively as cognitive science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary ...
. Cognitive science has a prehistory traceable back to ancient Greek philosophical texts (see
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thoug ...

Plato
's ''
Meno ''Meno'' (; grc-gre, wikt:Μένων, Μένων, ''Ménōn'') is a Socratic dialogue by Plato. Meno begins the dialogue by asking Socrates whether virtue is taught, acquired by practice, or comes by nature. In order to determine whether virt ...

Meno
'' and
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

Aristotle
's ''
De Anima ''On the Soul'' ( Greek: , ''Peri Psychēs''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
''); and includes writers such as ,
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
,
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German Philosophy, philosopher and one of the central Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers. Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethi ...

Immanuel Kant
, Benedict de Spinoza,
Nicolas Malebranche Nicolas Malebranche ( , ; 6 August 1638 – 13 October 1715) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, Républ ...

Nicolas Malebranche
, Pierre Cabanis,
Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz ; see inscription of the engraving depicted in the "#1666–1676, 1666–1676" section. ( – 14 November 1716) was a German polymath active as a mathematician, philosopher, scientist, and diplomat. He is a promin ...

Leibniz
and
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism Liberalism is a ...

John Locke
. However, although these early writers contributed greatly to the philosophical discovery of
mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fund ...

mind
and this would ultimately lead to the development of psychology, they were working with an entirely different set of tools and core concepts than those of the cognitive scientist. The modern culture of cognitive science can be traced back to the early in the 1930s and 1940s, such as
Warren McCulloch Warren Sturgis McCulloch (November 16, 1898 – September 24, 1969) was an American neurophysiologist and cybernetician, known for his work on the foundation for certain brain theories and his contribution to the cybernetics movement.Ken Aizawa (20 ...
and
Walter Pitts Walter Harry Pitts, Jr. (23 April 1923 – 14 May 1969) was a logician Logic (from Greek: grc, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Lo ...
, who sought to understand the organizing principles of the mind. McCulloch and Pitts developed the first variants of what are now known as
artificial neural networks Artificial neural networks (ANNs), usually simply called neural networks (NNs), are computing system Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentat ...
, models of computation inspired by the structure of
biological neural networks Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowl ...
. Another precursor was the early development of the
theory of computation In theoretical computer science and mathematics, the theory of computation is the branch that deals with what problems can be solved on a model of computation, using an algorithm, how algorithmic efficiency, efficiently they can be solved or t ...
and the
digital computer A computer is a machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply forces and control movement to perform an action. Machines can be driven by animals and people A people is a plurality of person A person (plural ...
in the 1940s and 1950s.
Kurt Gödel Kurt Friedrich Gödel ( , ; April 28, 1906 – January 14, 1978) was a logician, mathematician, and philosopher. Considered along with Aristotle and Gottlob Frege to be one of the most significant logicians in history, Gödel had an immens ...
,
Alonzo Church Alonzo Church (June 14, 1903 – August 11, 1995) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA ...
,
Alan Turing Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such to ...

Alan Turing
, and
John von Neumann John von Neumann (; hu, Neumann János Lajos, ; December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) was a Hungarian Americans, Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. Von Neumann was generally rega ...

John von Neumann
were instrumental in these developments. The modern computer, or , would play a central role in cognitive science, both as a metaphor for the mind, and as a tool for investigation. The first instance of cognitive science experiments being done at an academic institution took place at
MIT Sloan School of Management The MIT Sloan School of Management (also known as MIT Sloan or Sloan) is the business school A business school is a university-level institution that confers degrees in business administration or management. A business school may also be referred ...
, established by
J.C.R. Licklider Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (; March 11, 1915 – June 26, 1990), known simply as J. C. R. or "Lick", was an American psychologistMiller, G. A. (1991), "J. C. R. Licklider, psychologist", ''Journal of the Acoustical Society of Am ...
working within the psychology department and conducting experiments using computer memory as models for human cognition. In 1959,
Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gesture ...

Noam Chomsky
published a scathing review of
B. F. Skinner Burrhus Frederic Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990) was an American psychologist A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by exper ...
's book ''
Verbal Behavior ''Verbal Behavior'' is a 1957 book by psychologist A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experimenting with, and observing, interpretin ...
''. At the time, Skinner's
behaviorist Behaviorism is a systematic approach to understanding the behavior of humans and other animals. It assumes that behavior is either a reflex In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their ...
paradigm dominated the field of psychology within the United States. Most psychologists focused on functional relations between stimulus and response, without positing internal representations. Chomsky argued that in order to explain language, we needed a theory like
generative grammar Generative grammar, or generativism , is a linguistic theory that regards linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying ...
, which not only attributed internal representations but characterized their underlying order. The term ''cognitive science'' was coined by
Christopher Longuet-Higgins Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins (April 11, 1923 – March 27, 2004) was both a theoretical chemist and a cognitive scientist Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a class ...
in his 1973 commentary on the
Lighthill reportThe Lighthill report is the name commonly used for the paper "Artificial Intelligence: A General Survey" by James Lighthill, published in ''Artificial Intelligence: a paper symposium'' in 1973. James Lighthill (1973)"Artificial Intelligence: A Genera ...
, which concerned the then-current state of
Artificial Intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process where general rules and concept Concepts are defined as abstra ...

Artificial Intelligence
research. In the same decade, the journal ''
Cognitive Science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge that is Educ ...
'' and the
Cognitive Science SocietyThe Cognitive Science Society is a professional society A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional society) seeks to further a particular profession A profession is an occupation ...
were founded. The founding meeting of the
Cognitive Science SocietyThe Cognitive Science Society is a professional society A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional society) seeks to further a particular profession A profession is an occupation ...
was held at the
University of California, San Diego The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego or, colloquially, UCSD) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in San Diego, California. Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Inst ...
in 1979, which resulted in cognitive science becoming an internationally visible enterprise. In 1972,
Hampshire College Hampshire College is a Private college, private Liberal arts colleges in the United States, liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts. It was opened in 1970 as an experiment in alternative education, in association with four other colleges i ...
started the first undergraduate education program in Cognitive Science, led by Neil Stillings. In 1982, with assistance from Professor Stillings,
Vassar College Vassar may refer to: * Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, US * 1312 Vassar, an asteroid People * John Ellison Vassar (1813–1878), American lay preacher and missionary * Matthew Vassar (1792–1868), American brewer and merchant, founder of ...
became the first institution in the world to grant an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science. In 1986, the first Cognitive Science Department in the world was founded at the
University of California, San Diego The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego or, colloquially, UCSD) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in San Diego, California. Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Inst ...
. In the 1970s and early 1980s, as access to computers increased,
artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, ...

artificial intelligence
research expanded. Researchers such as
Marvin Minsky Marvin Lee Minsky (August 9, 1927 – January 24, 2016) was an American cognitive Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many ...

Marvin Minsky
would write computer programs in languages such as
LISP Lisp (historically LISP) is a family of programming language A programming language is a formal language In logic, mathematics, computer science, and linguistics, a formal language consists of string (computer science), words whose symbo ...

LISP
to attempt to formally characterize the steps that human beings went through, for instance, in making decisions and solving problems, in the hope of better understanding human
thought In their most common sense, the terms thought and thinking refer to conscious cognitive processes that can happen independently of sensory stimulation. Their most paradigmatic forms are judging, reasoning, concept formation, problem solving, an ...

thought
, and also in the hope of creating artificial minds. This approach is known as "symbolic AI". Eventually the limits of the symbolic AI research program became apparent. For instance, it seemed to be unrealistic to comprehensively list human knowledge in a form usable by a symbolic computer program. The late 80s and 90s saw the rise of
neural networks#REDIRECT Artificial neural network Artificial neural networks (ANNs), usually simply called neural networks (NNs), are computing systems vaguely inspired by the biological neural networks that constitute animal brain A brain is an organ ( ...

neural networks
and
connectionism Connectionism is an approach in the fields of cognitive science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition Cognition () ref ...
as a research paradigm. Under this point of view, often attributed to James McClelland and
David Rumelhart David Everett Rumelhart (June 12, 1942 – March 13, 2011) was an American psychologist who made many contributions to the formal analysis of cognition, human cognition, working primarily within the frameworks of mathematical psychology, symbol ...
, the mind could be characterized as a set of complex associations, represented as a layered network. Critics argue that there are some phenomena which are better captured by symbolic models, and that connectionist models are often so complex as to have little explanatory power. Recently symbolic and connectionist models have been combined, making it possible to take advantage of both forms of explanation. While both connectionism and symbolic approaches have proven useful for testing various hypotheses and exploring approaches to understanding aspects of cognition and lower level brain functions, neither are biologically realistic and therefore, both suffer from a lack of neuroscientific plausibility. Connectionism has proven useful for exploring computationally how cognition emerges in development and occurs in the human brain, and has provided alternatives to strictly domain-specific / domain general approaches. For example, scientists such as Jeff Elman, Liz Bates, and Annette Karmiloff-Smith have posited that networks in the brain emerge from the dynamic interaction between them and environmental input.


Principles


Levels of analysis

A central tenet of cognitive science is that a complete understanding of the mind/brain cannot be attained by studying only a single level. An example would be the problem of remembering a phone number and recalling it later. One approach to understanding this process would be to study behavior through direct observation, or
naturalistic observation Naturalistic observation, sometimes referred to as fieldwork Field research, field studies, or fieldwork is the empirical research, collection of raw data outside a laboratory, library, or workplace setting. The approaches and methods used in ...
. A person could be presented with a phone number and be asked to recall it after some delay of time; then the accuracy of the response could be measured. Another approach to measure cognitive ability would be to study the firings of individual
neuron A neuron or nerve cell is an electrically excitable cell that communicates with other cells via specialized connections called synapse In the nervous system In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living ...

neuron
s while a person is trying to remember the phone number. Neither of these experiments on its own would fully explain how the process of remembering a phone number works. Even if the technology to map out every neuron in the brain in real-time were available and it were known when each neuron fired it would still be impossible to know how a particular firing of neurons translates into the observed behavior. Thus an understanding of how these two levels relate to each other is imperative. ''The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience'' says "the new sciences of the mind need to enlarge their horizon to encompass both lived human experience and the possibilities for transformation inherent in human experience". This can be provided by a functional level account of the process. Studying a particular phenomenon from multiple levels creates a better understanding of the processes that occur in the brain to give rise to a particular behavior.
Marr Marr (Scottish Gaelic: ''Màrr'') is one of six committee areas in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It has a population of 34,038 (2001 Census). Someone from Marr is called a ''Màrnach'' in Scottish Gaelic. Etymology The genesis of the name ''Marr' ...
gave a famous description of three levels of analysis: # The ''computational theory'', specifying the goals of the computation; # ''Representation and algorithms'', giving a representation of the inputs and outputs and the algorithms which transform one into the other; and # The ''hardware implementation'', or how algorithm and representation may be physically realized.


Interdisciplinary nature

Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field with contributors from various fields, including
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known ...

psychology
,
neuroscience Neuroscience is the of the . It is a science that combines , , , , , and to understand the fundamental and emergent properties of s, and s. The understanding of the biological basis of , , , , and has been described by as the "epic chal ...

neuroscience
,
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...

linguistics
,
philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of that studies the and nature of the and its relationship with the body. The is a paradigmatic issue in philosophy of mind, although a number of other issues are addressed, such as the and the nature of parti ...

philosophy of mind
,
computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of , , and . Computer science ...
,
anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. studies how language influences social life. studi ...
and
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
. Cognitive scientists work collectively in hope of understanding the mind and its interactions with the surrounding world much like other sciences do. The field regards itself as compatible with the physical sciences and uses the
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence ...

scientific method
as well as
simulation A simulation is the imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time. Simulations require the use of models; the model represents the key characteristics or behaviors of the selected system or process, whereas the simulat ...

simulation
or
modeling In general, a model is an informative representation of an object, person or system. The term originally denoted the plans of a building in late 16th-century English, and derived via French and Italian ultimately from Latin ''modulus'', a measure. ...
, often comparing the output of models with aspects of human cognition. Similarly to the field of psychology, there is some doubt whether there is a unified cognitive science, which have led some researchers to prefer 'cognitive sciences' in plural. Many, but not all, who consider themselves cognitive scientists hold a functionalist view of the mind—the view that mental states and processes should be explained by their function – what they do. According to the
multiple realizability Multiple realizability, in the philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relationship with the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigmatic issue in philosophy o ...
account of functionalism, even non-human systems such as robots and computers can be ascribed as having cognition.


''Cognitive'' science: the term

The term "cognitive" in "cognitive science" is used for "any kind of mental operation or structure that can be studied in precise terms" (
LakoffLakoff is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: *George Lakoff George Philip Lakoff (; born May 24, 1941) is an American cognitive linguist and philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosophe ...

Lakoff
and
Johnson Johnson is a surname of English name, English and Scottish name, Scottish origin.. The name itself is a patronym of the given name ''John (first name), John'', literally meaning "son of John". The name ''John'' derives from Latin ''Johannes'', whi ...
, 1999). This conceptualization is very broad, and should not be confused with how "cognitive" is used in some traditions of
analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality ...
, where "cognitive" has to do only with formal rules and truth conditional semantics. The earliest entries for the word "''cognitive''" in the OED take it to mean roughly ''"pertaining to the action or process of knowing"''. The first entry, from 1586, shows the word was at one time used in the context of discussions of
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thoug ...

Plato
nic theories of
knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to e ...
. Most in cognitive science, however, presumably do not believe their field is the study of anything as certain as the knowledge sought by Plato.


Scope

Cognitive science is a large field, and covers a wide array of topics on cognition. However, it should be recognized that cognitive science has not always been equally concerned with every topic that might bear relevance to the nature and operation of minds. Among philosophers, classical cognitivists have largely de-emphasized or avoided social and cultural factors, emotion, consciousness,
animal cognition Animal cognition encompasses the mental capacities of non-human animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are organisms that form the Animalia. With few exceptions, animals , , are , can , and grow from a hollow sphere of , the , during ...
, and
comparative In general linguistics, the comparative is a syntactic construction that serves to express a comparison between two (or more) entities or groups of entities in quality or degree - see also comparison (grammar) for an overview of comparison, as well ...
and
evolutionary Evolution is change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expressions of genes that are passed on from parent to offsp ...
psychologies. However, with the decline of
behaviorism Behaviorism is a systematic approach to understanding the behavior of humans and other animals. It assumes that behavior is either a reflex In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including thei ...
, internal states such as affects and emotions, as well as awareness and covert attention became approachable again. For example, situated and embodied cognition theories take into account the current state of the environment as well as the role of the body in cognition. With the newfound emphasis on information processing, observable behavior was no longer the hallmark of psychological theory, but the modeling or recording of mental states. Below are some of the main topics that cognitive science is concerned with. This is not an exhaustive list. See List of cognitive science topics for a list of various aspects of the field.


Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) involves the study of cognitive phenomena in machines. One of the practical goals of AI is to implement aspects of human intelligence in computers. Computers are also widely used as a tool with which to study cognitive phenomena.
Computational modeling Computer simulation is the process of mathematical modelling A mathematical model is a description of a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unifi ...
uses simulations to study how human intelligence may be structured. (See .) There is some debate in the field as to whether the mind is best viewed as a huge array of small but individually feeble elements (i.e. neurons), or as a collection of higher-level structures such as symbols, schemes, plans, and rules. The former view uses
connectionism Connectionism is an approach in the fields of cognitive science Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition Cognition () ref ...
to study the mind, whereas the latter emphasizes
symbolic artificial intelligence Symbolic artificial intelligence is the term for the collection of all methods in artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines, unlike the natural intelligence human intelligence, displayed by ...
. One way to view the issue is whether it is possible to accurately simulate a human brain on a computer without accurately simulating the neurons that make up the human brain.


Attention

Attention is the selection of important information. The human mind is bombarded with millions of stimuli and it must have a way of deciding which of this information to process. Attention is sometimes seen as a spotlight, meaning one can only shine the light on a particular set of information. Experiments that support this metaphor include the
dichotic listening Dichotic listening is a psychological test commonly used to investigate selective attention and the lateralization The lateralization of brain function is the tendency for some neural functions or cognitive processes to be specialized to one ...
task (Cherry, 1957) and studies of inattentional blindness (Mack and Rock, 1998). In the dichotic listening task, subjects are bombarded with two different messages, one in each ear, and told to focus on only one of the messages. At the end of the experiment, when asked about the content of the unattended message, subjects cannot report it.


Knowledge and processing of language

The ability to learn and understand language is an extremely complex process. Language is acquired within the first few years of life, and all humans under normal circumstances are able to acquire language proficiently. A major driving force in the theoretical linguistic field is discovering the nature that language must have in the abstract in order to be learned in such a fashion. Some of the driving research questions in studying how the brain itself processes language include: (1) To what extent is linguistic knowledge innate or learned?, (2) Why is it more difficult for adults to acquire a second-language than it is for infants to acquire their first-language?, and (3) How are humans able to understand novel sentences? The study of language processing ranges from the investigation of the sound patterns of speech to the meaning of words and whole sentences.
Linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...

Linguistics
often divides language processing into
orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions b ...
,
phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lang ...

phonetics
,
phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lan ...

phonology
,
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
,
syntax In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...

syntax
,
semantics Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another ...
, and
pragmatics In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the m ...
. Many aspects of language can be studied from each of these components and from their interaction. The study of language processing in ''cognitive science'' is closely tied to the field of linguistics. Linguistics was traditionally studied as a part of the humanities, including studies of history, art and literature. In the last fifty years or so, more and more researchers have studied knowledge and use of language as a cognitive phenomenon, the main problems being how knowledge of language can be acquired and used, and what precisely it consists of.
Linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonet ...

Linguists
have found that, while humans form sentences in ways apparently governed by very complex systems, they are remarkably unaware of the rules that govern their own speech. Thus linguists must resort to indirect methods to determine what those rules might be, if indeed rules as such exist. In any event, if speech is indeed governed by rules, they appear to be opaque to any conscious consideration.


Learning and development

Learning and development are the processes by which we acquire knowledge and information over time. Infants are born with little or no knowledge (depending on how knowledge is defined), yet they rapidly acquire the ability to use language, walk, and recognize people and objects. Research in learning and development aims to explain the mechanisms by which these processes might take place. A major question in the study of cognitive development is the extent to which certain abilities are
innate {{Short pages monitor is a term coined in 1969 by the University of Edinburgh with the foundation of its School of Epistemics. Epistemics is to be distinguished from epistemology in that epistemology is the philosophical theory of knowledge, whereas epistemics signifies the scientific study of knowledge. Christopher Longuet-Higgins has defined it as "the construction of formal models of the processes (perceptual, intellectual, and linguistic) by which knowledge and understanding are achieved and communicated." In his 1978 essay "Epistemics: The Regulative Theory of Cognition", Alvin I. Goldman claims to have coined the term "epistemics" to describe a reorientation of epistemology. Goldman maintains that his epistemics is continuous with traditional epistemology and the new term is only to avoid opposition. Epistemics, in Goldman's version, differs only slightly from traditional epistemology in its alliance with the psychology of cognition; epistemics stresses the detailed study of mental processes and information-processing mechanisms that lead to knowledge or beliefs. In the mid-1980s, the School of Epistemics was renamed as The Centre for Cognitive Science (CCS). In 1998, CCS was incorporated into the University of Edinburgh's University of Edinburgh School of Informatics, School of Informatics.


See also

* Affective science * Cognitive anthropology * Cognitive biology * Cognitive computing * Cognitive ethology * Cognitive linguistics * Cognitive neuropsychology * Cognitive neuroscience * Cognitive psychology * Cognitive science of religion * Computational neuroscience * Computational-representational understanding of mind * Concept mining * Decision field theory * Decision theory * Dynamicism * Educational neuroscience * Educational psychology * Embodied cognition * Embodied cognitive science * Enactivism * Epistemology * Folk psychology * Heterophenomenology * Human Cognome Project * Human–computer interaction * Indiana Archives of Cognitive Science * Informatics (academic field) * List of cognitive scientists * List of psychology awards * Malleable intelligence * Neural Darwinism * * Personal information management (PIM) * Qualia * Quantum cognition * Simulated consciousness * Situated cognition * Society of Mind theory * Spatial cognition * Speech–language pathology ; Outlines * Outline of human intelligence – topic tree presenting the traits, capacities, models, and research fields of human intelligence, and more. * Outline of thought – topic tree that identifies many types of thoughts, types of thinking, aspects of thought, related fields, and more.


References


External links

* * *
"Cognitive Science"
on the ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy''
Cognitive Science Society

Cognitive Science Movie Index: A broad list of movies showcasing themes in the Cognitive Sciences


{{DEFAULTSORT:Cognitive Science Cognitive science, Interdisciplinary subfields Interdisciplinary branches of psychology