Introduction to Cognitive Science
Master's Program in Cognitive Science, Dept. of Applied Informatics, Faculty of Mathematics, Physics, and Informatics, Comenius University in Bratislava

Time/Place: Winter Semester 2017/18, Wednesday 14:00-16:25, room I-9

Credits: 5

RNDr. Kristína Malinovská, PhD., Centre for Cognitive Science, Dept. of Applied Informatics, room I-33a, kristina.rebrova(AT) KM's homepage
RNDr. Barbora Cimrová, PhD., Centre for Cognitive Science, Dept. of Applied Informatics, room I-33a, baaaaster(AT) BC's homepage

Indicative Content and Learning Outcomes

Cognitive Science is a new interdsciplinary field focusing on the study of mind and intelligent behavior. Its roots are in psychology, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, antropology and philosophy. Content-wise, the students will learn about:

  • History, theories, methods and topics of cognitive science
  • Disciplines of cognitive science, their specific contributions
  • Representational paradigms
  • Cognitive modeling
  • Ethical aspects of cognitive science and technologies

Method-wise, the students will acquire the following skills:
  • Think in an interdisciplinary way, appreciate multiple perspectives.
  • Search and critically evaluate scientific knowledge sources.
  • Critically read papers of different disciplines/styles.
  • Orally present topics of interest.
  • Learn about academic honesty practices and plagiarism.
  • Write a scientific paper and cite literature properly.
  • Review their peer's paper.
  • Work independently, participate in discussions.


Readings: until Monday 23:59 before the respective lecture (Late submission policy: the maximum achievable points decrease linearly in 1 hour steps from full amount at the deadline to zero at 24 hours after the deadline).

Written assignments:
paper topic selection: 1.11.2017
paper first version: 10.12.2017 midnight
paper peer-review: 14.1.2018 midnight
paper final version: 31.1.2018 midnight
integration reflection: 31.1.2018 midnight
Late submission policy: daily linear decrease to zero 7 days after the deadline.


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

Course schedule

Indicative course shedule. Some details might change during the semester.

Session Date Topic Presentation Readings Supplementary
1. Oct 4 Introduction: Resources, Methods, Sciences and History of Cognitive Science Assignments and preliminaries (no reading, send us your personal learning goal)
2. Oct 11 Representational Theory of Mind
Concepts to be worked on:
  • representational theory of mind
  • functionalism
  • multiple realizability
  • Turing test

Workshop: Sources
Putnam H. Philosophical Papers: Volume 2, Mind, Language and Reality. Cambridge University Press; 1979 Apr 30. Chapter 21. The nature of mental states
3. Oct 18 Experimental group work (workshop) with prof. Markus Peschl (Vienna) no reading Note: extended time 14:00-18:30 (will be compensated at the end of term)
4. Oct 25 Computational Modeling
Concepts to be worked on:
  • hypotheses, data, model, simulation
  • model parameters
  • model behaviour and model fit
  • simplification
  • proof-of-concept
  • validation and verification
Dörner, D., Bamberg, D., and Mayer, M. A Simulation of Cognitive and Emotional Effects of Overcrowding. Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Cognitive Modeling ICCM. 2006, 92-99.
5. Nov 8 Cognitive Science Paradigms:
Concepts to be worked on:
  • Physical Symbol Systems Hypothesis
  • Turing machine
  • cognitive architecture
  • symbolic representation of the world
  • Symbol grounding problem
  • Chinese Room argument

Workshop: Writing
Harnad, S. The Symbol Grounding Problem. Physica D. 1990, 42: 335-346.
6. Nov 15 Neuroscience
Concepts to be worked on:
  • Experimental Approaches to Brain Functions
  • Brain Imaging Techniques
  • An Overview of the Nervous System
  • Organization principles of NS
Hubel, D.H., Wiesel, T.N.: Receptive Fields of Cells in Striate Cortex of Very Young, Visually Inexperienced Kittens. J Neurophysiol. 1963 Nov;26:994-1002.
7. Nov 22 Cognitive Science Paradigms:
Hybrid Systems

Concepts to be worked on:
  • symbolic versus subsymbolic
  • distributed representation
  • gradedness, robustness
  • graceful degradation
  • hybrid neural architecture
Sejnowski, T.J., Rosenberg, C. R.: NETtalk: A Parallel Network That Learns to Read Aloud. Technical Report JHU/EECS-86/01. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 1986.
  • Pfeifer R, Scheier C. Understanding intelligence. MIT press; 2001. Chap. 5.
  • Haykin S. Neural networks: a comprehensive foundation. Prentice Hall PTR; 1994
  • Fodor JA, Pylyshyn ZW. Connectionism and cognitive architecture: A critical analysis. Cognition. 1988 Mar 31;28(1):3-71.
  • Christiansen,M.H. & Chater, N. 2001. Connectionist psycholinguistics: Capturing the empirical data Trends in Cognitive Sciences 5, 82-88.
  • Wermter S. Hybrid neural systems. Springer Science & Business Media; 2000 Mar 29. Chap. 1
  • Doumas L.A., Hummel J.E. Computational models of higher cognition. In The Oxford handbook of thinking and reasoning 2012 Apr 19 (Vol. 19). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Nettalk sounds: track 1, track 2, track 3
8. Nov 29 Cognitive Science Paradigms:
Enactivism and embodiment
Concepts to be worked on:
  • enaction
  • embodiment
  • Umwelt
  • subsumption architecture
  • perceptual symbols
  • image schemas & metaphors
  • neural evidence of embodied cognition
  • cognitive linguistics
  • cognitive robotics
Brooks, R.A. Intelligence without representation. Artificial Intelligence 47. 1991. 139–159.
  • Lakoff, G. (1987).Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things.Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press Preface and chap. 1 and 4
  • Pfeifer R, Scheier C. Understanding intelligence. MIT press; 2001. Chap. 4., 7.
  • Barsalou, L., 1999. Perceptual Symbol Systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 1999, pp. 577-609 (only the target article, leave out the open peer commentary).
  • Lakoff, G. (1987).Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things.Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, Chap. 6: Radial categories. (about categories in Dyirbal language).
  • Lakoff, G., Johnson, M., 1980. Metaphors we live by.University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.
  • Gibbs, R. W., 2006. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Pecher, D., Zwaan, R. A. (Eds.), 2005. Grounding Cognition: The Role of Perception and Action in Memory, Language, and Thinking. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U. K.
  • Wilson M. (2002) Six views of embodied cognition.Psychonomics Bulletin Review, 9(4), 625-636.
  • Roy, D., 2005. A mechanistic model of three facets of meaning. In: de Vega, Glenberg & Graesser (eds), Symbols and Embodiment: Debates on Meaning and Cognition, Oxford University Press, 195-222.
  • Courses (2nd yr.) Cognitive Semantics and Cognitive Theories of Representation and Grounded Cognition
9. Dec 6 Cognitive Science Paradigms:
Dynamical Systems
Concepts to be worked on:
  • evolution, emergence
  • dynamical system, state space, attractor
  • multi-agent system
  • artificial life
  • collective cognition
van Gelder, T. The Dynamical Hypothesis in Cognitive Science, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21, 615-665, 1997.
10. Dec 13 Closing colloquium: Future and Ethical Aspects of Cognitive Science and AI Research Jana
Wu, X. and Zhang, X. Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images. 2016. arXiv:1611.04135v2

Supplementary literature

  • Silverman G., Friedenberg J. (2011): Cognitive science. An introduction to the study of mind. SAGE.
  • Thagard, P. (2005): Mind: Introduction to Cognitive Science, 2nd Edition. MIT Press.
  • Stainton, J.R (2006): Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Wiley.
  • Bermúdez, J. L.(2014): Cognitive science. An introduction to the science of the mind. Cambridge University Press.
  • Bechtel, W., Graham, G., & Balota, D. A. (Eds.). (1998). A companion to cognitive science. Oxford: Blackwell.

Assessment details


Before each session, a student should carefully read the article from the column Readings (Note: not Supplementary readings - these are optional) and formulate at least one discussion point or a question related to the chosen article. The overal length of the discussion points and questions should not exceed 750 characters. The discussion points should be sent to the mailing list at latest on Monday 23:59 before the respective session (or any time sooner). Please identify the topic you are reacting to in the subject of the e-mail (e.g. Readings_session2_...). The reading will be discussed class during the seminar. The evaluation will be based only on the discussion points submitted to the mailinglist.

Mini Presentations

Twice a semester, each students will individually pick a current cognitive science topic of their own interest, prepare a short (max. 7 min, approx. 3-5 slides) presentation. The topics should be new and interesting and supported by existing research (scientific paper(s) listed in references). Students are to send their slides to the teachers via e-mail prior to the day of presentation. Please send your slides in pdf format and name the file appropriately - e.g. ICS-minipres[N]-[your name/surname].pdf

Examples: False memories, Gut feelings, Mental time travel, Mind reading, Morning Morality Effect, Musical training, biligualism and EF, Neuromyths, Sensory deprivation, Targeted muscle reinnervation, Who are you, mom.


The students will write a scientific paper on a topic chosen from the list or their own. (The sign up for the topic is via email to the teacher - suggest three topics ordered by priority and wait for the teachers' approval). The paper should contain approximately 1000 words (excluding references). The focus will be on the content, structure and correct referencing (see the guidelines). Each student will receive one review by another student (peer review) and one by the teacher and is obliged to rework/improve the paper taking into account the reviews. Since the peer review should be anonymous please do not write your name in the first version of your paper.

Examples: Drugs of our brain (Xenia Daniela Poslon, 2016), Soft robotics (Matúš Štefek, 2015), Do we choose our mates consciously? (Milan Mitka, 2014)

Peer review

Each student will be assigned a paper of one of their colleagues to peer review. A review should contain a short abstract of the reviewed paper and the feedback to the writer. The feedback should emphasize the strenghts and weaknesses of the paper; the reviewer should suggest changes how to improve the paper (see the guidelines).

Group work & Colloquium

Students will be evaulated for their activity during the group work (Oct 18) and closing colloquium (Dec 13)

Integration reflection

Students will write a one-page personal reflection on two questions:

  1. What in their opinion connects all the cognitive paradigms together?
  2. What is their personal learning gain from this semester?

The reflections will be submitted to teachers via email (document or pdf).


Presenting skills at workshops

There are two workshops planned for the semester (dates are in the Course Shedule) on searching for relevant sources and on scientific writing. Students can contribute with a short (meaningful) presentation related to the workshop topic for extra points (percents).

Posting Online

In order to gain extra points students can create posts or tweets. The posts should be short, yet informative and contain a link to a video or paper with further details. These posts can also be related to concrete minipresentation topics and material (i.e. written form of the short presentation). Further posting details and points earned will be provided by K.M.