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-11,
Time/Place: Tue., 14:00, 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. Reflective journal & Readings 40%
  2. Oral presentation (peer lecture) 40%
  3. 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





experimental group work

assoc. prof.

Markus Peschl

from Vienna Univ.




Cognitive phenomena: empirical research

(Memory, Learning, Reasoning)


Session 3



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 4



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 5



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 6



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 7



Computational Modeling of Cognitive Phenomena


Session 8



no lesson!



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



  • Rybárová, D.: Definitions of cognitive science, in: Philosophical and Methodological Issues Concerning Fodor's Theory of Modularity in the Language Domain. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Slovak Academy of Sciences. Bratislava, 2003.
  • Pfeifer, R., Scheier, C., 1999. Understanding Intelligence. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Putnam, Hilary. (1975): The Nature of mental states. In: Mind, Language, and Reality. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Carter, M. 2007. Minds and Computers: An introduction to the philosophy of artificial intelligence. Edinburg University Press.
  • Turing, A. M., 1950. Computing machinery and intelligence. Mind 59, 433–460.
  • Searle, J. R., 1980. Minds, brains, and programs. Behavioural and Brain Sciences 3, 417–457.
  • Newell, A., Simon, H. A., 1976. Computer science as empirical inquiry: Symbols and search. Commun. ACM 19 (3), 113–126.
  • Harnad, S. (1990) The Symbol Grounding Problem. Physica D 42: 335-346.
  • Šefránek, J., Takáč, M., Farkaš, I.: Vznik inteligencie v umelých systémoch. In: Magdolen, D. (ed.): Hmota, život, inteligencia: Vznik. VEDA, Bratislava, in press.
  • Kvasnička, V., Pospíchal, J., 2002. Konekcionizmus a modelovanie kognitívnych procesov [Connectionism and modeling of cognitive processes]. In: Rybár, J., Beňušková, L., Kvasnička, V. (Eds.), Kognitívne vedy. Kalligram, Bratislava, pp. 257–345.
  • I. Farkaš: Konekcionistické modelovanie jazyka. Chapter in book: J. Rybar, V. Kvasnicka, I. Farkas (Eds.), Jazyk a kognícia, Kalligram, Bratislava, pp. 262-305, 2005.
  • Fodor J. A. and Pylyshyn Z. W.: Connectionism and Cognitive Architecture: A Critical Analysis. In: Connections and symbols. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 3–71. 1988.
  • Rogers, T. T., McClelland, J. L., 2004. Semantic Cognition: A Parallel Distributed Processing Approach. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Kvasnička V. a kol.: Úvod do teórie neurónových sietí, IRIS Bratislava, 1997.
  • Beňušková L. Umele neuronove siete . Kapitola z Navrat P. et al. Umela inteligencia. STU: Bratislava, 2002, str. 161-189
  • Rambusch, J. & Ziemke T. (2005). The role of embodiment in situated learning. In: Bara, B.G., Barsalou, L., and Bucciarelli, M. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 1803-1808. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Lakoff, G.: Ženy, oheň a nebezpečné věci. TRIÁDA, 2006.
  • 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.
  • Doerner, D: A Simulation of Cognitive and Emotional Effects of Overcrowding
  • Gelder, T. J., 1999. Dynamic approaches to cognition. In: Wilson, R. A., Keil, F. C. (Eds.), The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 244–246.
  • Burian, J.: Kognice a informace In: Kvasnička V., Kelemen J., (eds.). Kognice a umělý život V. Slezská univerzita. Opava
  • Farkaš, I.: Reciprocal causality between mind and brain from neuroscientific perspective (in Slovak). In J. Kelemen, V. Kvasnicka, J. Pospichal (Eds.), Cognition and artificial life V, Smolenice, Slovakia, pp. 117-124, 2005.
  • Perfors, A.: Simulated Evolution of Language: a Review of the Field, in Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation vol. 5, no. 2, 2002.
  • Takáč, M.: Modelovanie kultúrneho prenosu a jeho úloha v evolúcii jazyka, in Rybár J. a kol. (eds.): Jazyk a kognícia, Kalligram Bratislava, 2005.
  • Gärdenfors, P.: Cued and detached representations in animal cognition", Behavioural Processes 36, 1996, pp. 263-273.
  • Gärdenfors, P.: "Language and the evolution of cognition", in Penser l'esprit: Des sciences de la cognition à une philosophie cognitive, ed. by V. Rialle and D. Fisette, Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, Grenoble, 1996, pp. 151-172.
  • Kováč, L: Komentovaný Úvod do kognitívnej biológie. In: Kelemen, J., Kvasnička, V., Pospíchal, J. (Eds.) Kognice a umělý život IV. Slezská univerzita, Opava, pp. 233-258, 2004.
  • Kováč, L: Ľudské vedomie je produktom evolučnej eskalácie emocionálneho výberu. In: (Kelemen, J., Ed.) Kognice a umělý život. III. Slezská univerzita, Opava, pp. 75-93, 2003.
  • Hurford, J.: The evolution of language and languages. In: The Evolution of Culture edited by Robin Dunbar, Chris Knight and Camilla Power, 1999, Edinburgh University Press. p.173-193
  • Kováč, L: Princípy molekulárnej kognície. In: Kelemen, J., Kvasnicka, V. (eds.) Kognice a umelý život VI. Slezská univerzita, Opava, pp. 215-222, 2006.
  • Kováč, L: Metafora evolučných krosien: kto je tkáč a čo tká? In: Kelemen, J., Kvasnička, V., Pospíchal, J. (Eds.) Kognice a umělý život. Slezská univerzita, Opava, pp. 131-140, 2001.
  • Šefránek, J.: Kognícia bez mentálnych procesov. In Ľ. Beňušková, et. al.,(eds.): Kognitívne vedy. Kaligram, Bratislava, 2002: s. 200–256.
  • Retová, D., Šilliková, J., Šefránek, J.: Opice, psy, sémantika a logika. In: Kelemen, J., Kvasnička, V., Pospíchal, J. (eds.): Kognice a umělý život VII. Slezská univerzita, Opava, 2007, s. 287-294.
  • Kováč, L. Ľudstvo v ohrození: potreba syntézy prírodných a kultúrnych vied. In: Beňušková, Ľ., Kvasnička, V., Pospíchal, J. (Eds.) Hľadanie spoločného jazyka v kognitívnych vedách. Iris 2000, pp. 83-120
  • Burian, J.: Etika umělého vědomí In: Sinčák P., Kvasnička V., Pospíchal J., Kelemen J., Návrat P. (ed.). Kognice a umělý život III. Košice: Elfa, 2003.

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 under the title READINGS (optional supplementary readings are below in SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS) and make up at least one question or a discussion point related to the chosen article. The discussion points should be posted under the corresponding thread (e.g. Session 2 - Readings) 'before the respective session'. If you are the first person to post the discussion point to a topic, please identify the topic you are reacting to in the subject of the thread (e.g. Session 2 - Journal).

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 posting in on the forum under the corresponding thread.
Each reflection should be sent not later than one week after the lecture (i.e. by the next week session). If you are the first person to post the discussion point, please identify the lecture you are reacting to in the subject of the thread (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 (Sept 29) and the final colloquium (Dec 8).

Revision as of 14:54, 2 May 2010 by Retova (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)