Cognitive Semantics and Cognitive Theories of Representation

Master's Program in Cognitive Science, Comenius University in Bratislava

Winter semester 2021/22

Time/Place: room I-9, Thursday 9:50 -13:10

(COVID-related note: The classes will take a physical/hybrid form until further notice. If you cannot be present in class and would like to participate online, please get in touch with the lecturer beforehand to arrange the details).

Lecturer: doc. RNDr. Martin Takáè, PhD., Centre for Cognitive Science, room  I-37, t a k a c (at) i i . f m p h . u n i b a . s k

Credits: 5

Indicative Content

The goal of the course is to formulate questions and provide views from literature helping to understand how cognitive systems manipulate with meanings. Also, to present cognitive theories of representation bridging the gaps between brain, language and culture.


  1. Semester activities 80% 
  2. Final reflection 20%
Checklist of your duties, with assessment points


0-50 % Fx
51-60 % E
61-70 % D
71-80 % C
81-90 % B
91-100 % A


Seminar Readings
Moderated by
Supplementary Resources
Sept 23
Introduction & basic terminology
Sept 30
Semiotics and enactive approach

Oct 7
Meaning in animal world: evolutionary view

Oct 14
Biologically motivated semantics of distinguishing criteria
  • J. Šefránek (2008): Knowledge Representation for Animal Reasoning. In: Honkela, T., Pöllä, M., Paukkeri, M., Simula, O. (eds.): Proceedings of AKRR '08, the 2nd International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Adaptive Knowledge Representation and Reasoning, Espoo, Finland, pp. 65-72.

Oct 21
Cognitive semantics of Lakoff

Oct 28
Conceptual spaces
  • P. Gärdenfors (2011): “Semantics based on conceptual spaces”, pp. 1-11 in the Proceedings of 4th Indian Conference on Logic and its Applications (LNAI 6521), ed. by M. Banerjee and A. Seth, Springer, Berlin.

Nov 4
Meaning and Brain
Nov 11
Toward grammar
Nov 18
Meaning in Artificial Systems I.
10. Nov 25 Meaning in Artificial Systems II.
Dec 2  Peer activity  [Team 1] - max 90 min
12. Dec 9 Peer activity [Team 2] max 90 min        Peer activity: [Team 3] max 90 min -

Dec 16 or by individual appointment
Final integration

Assessment details

Seminar Activities

Readings, Discussions, Moderation

Before each seminar, a student should carefully read the article listed in seminar readings (supplementary resources are optional) and make ONE question or discussion point related to the article. Fill in your discussion point together with your name into the appropriate sheet of the googledoc spreadsheet set up for this purpose not later than on Tuesday before the seminar by 8:00 p.m. (Late submission policy: the number of achievable points linearly decreases from 2.5 at Tue midnight to zero at Wed 8:00 am.). For each seminar, a moderator will be appointed in advance. The duty of the moderator is to collect and sort/group received discussion points by topics, give a short intro at the beginning of a seminar and then moderate the discussion. (Note: the moderator is supposed to send their discussion points too, like everybody else.) The students will divide into small groups by topics and discuss/work on their topic in their small group first, then in the whole class. The students will be evaluated for their prepared questions sent by e-mail (max 2.5 points per seminar), group work/discussion activity during the seminar (max 2.5 points per seminar), and ability to moderate the discussions (max 3 points per moderation).

Peer group activity 

Students will work in small teams and throughout the semester they will work on preparing a peer lecture/activity that will be presented at the end of the semester (max 15 points). They can present results of a small research project, complementing the teacher's lectures with more recent or ommited (or just your beloved and cool) content. Large emphasis is on the process, try to make it interactive and engage the class. Boring one-way lecture style is not enough, be creative and make it fun for the audience and yourselves! The topic and form should be discussed with the teacher beforehand (by Nov 5, max 2 points). Teams for this year are: Team1=[Adrian, Andrej, Tanja, Elisabet, Maruša], Team2=[Aljaž, Yilan, Ana Marija, Alice], Team3=[Udo, Uri, Clara, Teja, (Katka)].

Final reflection

After the semester, write a short personal reflection (max 2 pages) answering the following questions:
  1. How do you make sense of and connect together various lectures of this course? What is the core message you are taking home?
  2. How do you connect what you have learned here to your previous knowledge and professional background/experience?
  3. Reflect on yourself and the learning process you went through. Has anything changed in you? Any beliefes/ideas you dropped or acquired? What is your personal learning gain from this semester?
  4. Reflect on the process that happened in class. Any changes you noticed? What worked for you and what didn't? What could have been done differently and how?
This is not to be a standard scientific essay with references, but an informal reflective personal statement. I am not interested in clichés, be personal and honest. You will discuss the reflection in person with me (max 20 points). Please send me your reflection by email min 2 days before the appointed meeting. 

Last modification: Nov 18, 2021.