Winter semester 2009/10

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

Lecturer: Mgr. Dana Retová., Centre for Cognitive Science, Dept. of Applied Informatics, room I-6,[1]
Time/Place: tba, 3 hours weekly
Credits: 5

Indicative Content

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. The goal of this course is to provide the students with an overview of theories, methods and topics of cognitive science: representational paradigms, perception, memory, learning and reasoning, language and communication, emotional, embodied and collective cognition. Examples of computational models of the studied cognitive phenomena will be presented.


  1. [#rj Reflective journal & Readings] 40%
  2. [#op Oral presentation (peer lecture)] 40%
  3. [#rdfc Group work & Colloquium] 20%


(The list of readings and other resources will be updated on the way.)

Presented by
(L = Lecturer,
 S = Students)
Resources, Methods, Sciences and 
History of Cognitive Science

 Session 1

Cognitive phenomena: empirical research
(Memory, Learning, Reasoning)

 Session 2

Cognitive Science Paradigms:
Classical (computationalism)

Concepts to be worked on:  
  • symbolic representation of the world
  • symbol grounding
  • syntax, semantics,
  • Physical Symbol Systems Hypothesis (PSSH)
  • algorithm,
  • computation + Turing machine,
  • Chinese Room argument


 Session 3

Cognitive Science Paradigms:
Connectionism & Neural Computation

Concepts to be worked on:
  • symbolic versus subsymbolic representation
  • distributed representation
  • gradedness
  • graceful degradation
  • robustness
  • feedback
  • neural architecture & knowledge

 Session 4

Cognitive Science Paradigms:
Embodiment & Situated Cognition

Concepts to be worked on:
  • embodied representation
  • image schemas & metaphors
  • emotional mind
  • subsumption architecture
  • intelligence without representation
  • Umwelt

 Session 5

Cognitive Science Paradigms:
Dynamical Systems, Collective Cognition

Concepts to be worked on:
  • dynamical system
  • state space
  • attractor
  • emergence
  • adaptation
  • self organisation
  • interaction / coupling
  • Agent
  • multi-agent system
  • cultural cognition
  • enactment
  • Artificial Life

 Session 6


Computational Modeling of Cognitive Phenomena

 Session 7

no lesson! (next week there will be twice as much :-))
Paradigms in CogSci:
experimental group work
assoc. prof.
Markus Peschl
from Vienna Univ.

 Session 8

Language and Communication: Evolutionary View

 Session 9

Language: Phonology, Syntax, 
Semantics, Pragmatics, Semiotics

 Session 10

Closing colloquium:
Future and Ethical Aspects of 
Cognitive Science and 
AI Research

 Session 11


Informal meeting with Vienna MEiCogSci students + Christmas market in downtown


Other resources:

  • Basic Concepts of Cognitive Science I. - parallel lecture of MEiCogSci program at Vienna Univ.
  • Wilson, R., Keil, F. (eds): The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. Cambridge: MIT Press 1999.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.: The Computer and the Mind, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1988.
  • Rybár J. a kol. (eds.): Jazyk a kognícia, Kalligram Bratislava, 2005.
  • Rybár J. a kol. (eds.): Kognitívne vedy, Kalligram Bratislava, 2002.
  • Beňušková L. a kol. (eds.): Hľadanie spoločného jazyka v kognitívnych vedách, IRIS Bratislava, 2000.
  • Gál E., Kelemen J. (eds.): Myseľ, telo, stroj, BRADLO Bratislava, 1992.

Assessment details


Before each session, a student should carefully read at least one article from the related group of readings above the line'(optional supplementary readings are below the line) and make up at least one question or a discussion point related to the chosen article. The discussion points should be sent to the mailing list I C S 2 0 0 9 (at) l i s t s . d a i . f m p h . u n i b a . s k 'before the respective session. Please identify the topic you are reacting to in the subject of the e-mail (e.g. Session 2 - Readings).

Reflective Journal

The reflections will serve the lecturer as a feedback of students' understanding, as well as a platform for discussions among students themselves. Also, they will train the students in formulating and expressing their critical views on scientific content supported by relevant arguments.
The students are supposed to send their written reflections upon each week's topic (either a lecture or a presentation) by e-mail to the common mailing list of the students and the lecturer
( I C S 2 0 0 9 (at) l i s t s . d a i . f m p h . u n i b a . s k). Each reflection should be sent not later than one week after the lecture (i.e. by the next week session). Please identify the lecture you are reacting to in the subject of the e-mail (e.g. Session 2 - Journal).
The reflection should include personal views, reactions to reading-related discussion points raised by colleagues, critical attitude and feedback to the content. It can roughly follow the scheme:

  1. How do I assess the quality of the lecture/presentation?
  2. Which parts were confusing or weakly explained? What did I miss? What more would I need to know?
  3. What (from the content) do I agree with and what do I disagree with? Why? Support by arguments and your experiences.
  4. Can I see any connections with my student's or practical background? Any application areas?
  5. Do I have any reactions to discussion points raised by my colleagues?

These example questions are just for inspiration, creative reflections are welcome!

Oral Presentations

Students will work in teams. Each team will have to prepare a presentation of one topic from the list above. The team will meet the lecturer one week before their presentation to consult the details. The team is responsible for the whole course of presentation, involving demonstrations, discussions etc.

Group work & Colloquium

Students will be evaulated for their activity during the group work (Nov 25) and the final colloquium (Dec 16).

Last modification: Sep 01, 2009

Revision as of 17:21, 4 September 2009 by Retova (Talk | contribs)