The Master Program in Cognitive Science

The Master Program comprises 10 courses spread over two years, with three semesters per year - fall, spring and the month of June. There will normally be two classes per semester, including the June semester, when workshops will also be organized. The first five semesters are dedicated to courses and the last semester to work on the master thesis and its defense. 

The aim of this master is to expand the interdisciplinary understanding of the mind and introduce new research areas and results in cognitive science rather than be a mere gradual introduction to cognitive science. This is why the courses offered are generally self-contained, in the sense that they introduce specific areas of and results in cognitive science and do not normally require prerequisites. The courses are organized around major research areas and allow flexibility in terms of the specific topics covered. In each course, students are expected to pass a final examination and write a term paper. 

During any particular academic year, the courses will be scheduled according to the availability of teachers and, when appropriate, in connection with occasional workshops on a given course-related area. Normally, a course will take three to four intensive weeks. 


The Computational Mind

Starting from the computer metaphor of the mind, the course explores and compares different formal and functional models of mental processes as well as competing theories of these models, such as symbolic computation, connectionism, dynamic systems, embodies cognition, and others. 

Mental Representation

A survey and evaluation of major theories of mental representation drawing on recent work in philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, linguistics, semantics, and artificial intelligence. Major topics: linguistic representation, the language of thought, propositional attitudes, mental imagery, innate concepts and intuitive theories of various domains. (Together, this course and the one the Computational Mind will cover the first historical phases in the evolution of cognitive science). 

Theory of Mind

This course provides a survey of recent work on intuitive psychology or theory of mind. It begins with the philosophical debates about folk psychology and the key concepts that have shaped the research agenda of the field, then surveys the main empirical data, key experiments and hypotheses about ape and child understanding of minds, and concludes with a comparative analysis of several and much debated proposals about how intuitive psychology works - though innate modules, by simulation, in terms of an intuitive theory or by other mechanisms. 

Language and Its Acquisition

This course addresses fundamental questions regarding human language: how language is represented in and computed by the mind - syntax, semantics, pragmatics; how the brain processes language, where and in what forms; how children acquire the main components of language; how language evolved and why. 

Language, Thought, Communication

Does thought precede language in its evolution as well as ontogeny? Or do people think in language and only in language? Does language in general or a specific natural language influence how people think about space, time, action, other people, and so on? Is communication responsible for how language works and how people think in language? These are some of the questions addressed by this course. 

Mind in Evolution

As any biological capacity, the human mind must have evolved. Can evolution explain its design? The human mind has many components, from perception to language and thinking. Are they all products of natural selection, of other evolutionary forces, or of no such forces at all? Can evolution explain the uniqueness of the human mind? What could be the factors that explain the uniqueness: tool making, language, sociopolitical life, culture? Guided by such questions, the course offers a multidisciplinary survey of evolutionary cognitive science. 

Brain and Mind

This course explores the cognitive and neural processes that support vision, language, memory, attention, motor action, and other mental capacities. It surveys basic investigative methods in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience and examines neurocognitive deficits, such as autism, amnesia, schizophrenia, which reveal important links between brain activity and mental performances. 

The Socialized Mind

From a psychological and neuroscientific perspective, this course examines the impact that the intense and complex social and cultural interactions of humans had on their mental development and their mental abilities, from empathy and imitation to cooperation, education and communication. 


Consciousness is now a research topic that has moved from philosophy into the center of cognitive science, touching such diverse bases as the neural correlates of consciousness, impairments of consciousness, the question of free will and responsability, consciousness as either agent or spectator, the function of consciousness in mental life, its evolution and development. 

Special Topics in Cognitive Science

This course is open to a variety of key-topics in cognitive science, such as vision, memory, reasoning, imagination, speech acts, decision making, and so on. 







Last updated at: November 29, 2011.