Cognitive Science

Cognitive science is inherently multi-disciplinary, involving research from (at least) the fields:
– Psychology
– Artificial intelligence
– Machine learning
– Statistics
– Neuroscience
– Linguistics
– Philosophy
– Education
– Anthropology
Cognitive science as an empirical science is interested in
describing, explaining and predicting psychological phenomena
Goals of Models in Cognitive Science
The goal is to model what happens inside the “black box”, to describe, explain and predict the relationship between input and output
– Describe: it takes longer to detect a match when the rotation angle
is larger
– Explain: people must “mentally rotate” an image to check for the match
– Predict: if the angle of rotation is doubled, the response time will also double
Challenges in Understanding Cognitive Phenomena
Understanding the phenomena of cognitive science is generally extremely challenging, and perhaps harder than phenomena in the physical sciences
– it is hard to measure relevant variables accurately or directly
– it is often expensive or impossible to collect extensive relevant information
Two Big Issues
There are (at least) two big issues that appear repeatedly in all of the content areas we will cover
The relationship between
– cognitive (top-down, apperceptual) sources of information coming from memory, knowledge and experience, and
– perceptual (bottom-up) sources of information coming from current sensory data in the environment
The balance between the extent to which people
– are the same, showing invariance in cognition, and
– are different, showing structured and meaningful individual differences
cognitive sources of information
(top-down, apperceptual) sources of information coming from memory, knowledge and experience
perceptual sources of information
(bottom-up) sources of information coming from current sensory data in the environment
connectionist approaches
The metaphor of the mind as a parallel network of neuron-like computing elements…..nodes/links like a sematic network but operate very differently, modeled after neural network is the nervous system but it not a model on how the nervous system works includes excitatory/ inhibitory connections, strength of firing, distributed coding
information processing view of cognition
an approach to the study of mental structures and processes that uses the computer as a model for human thinking; filling memories
marr’s levels of analysis
Marr’s three levels of analysis [1] promotes the idea that complex systems such as the brain, a computer or human behaviour should be understood at different levels. Marr’s framework proved to be an elegant and popular way of reasoning about complex systems, and in the context of machine learning and statistics, remains an intuitive framework that is often used when describing probabilistic models of cognition and perceptual systems.
– Why does the cognitive capability behave like it does? What is its goal or purpose?
– Often this is the focus of artificial intelligence or machine learning
– What processing steps are made to make a decision, or produce behavior, or so on?
– Often this is the focus of cognitive psychology
– How is perceptual and cognitive processing, the remembering of information, and so on, actually done with neural hardware in the brain?
– Often this is the focus of cognitive neuroscience
Levels of Analysis for Psychological Generalization
Generalization is the act of treating two stimuli as if they were the same, despite the ability to distinguish the two (berry example)
Bistable Perception
Sensory events that alternate between two perceptual interpretations ( picture of lamp illusion
• One general possibility is that the mind assumes or expects mirror
symmetry in real world objects (Pizlo, Vickers)
– Empirical estimates have this being true for as many as 95% of
real-world objects
– This resolves the ambiguity of the 2D percept
change blindness
the tendency to fail to detect changes in any part of a scene to which we are not focusing our attention
change detection
what the actual task is called, looking at the difference between two or more images
Levin and Simmons
change blindness
Terror Subterra
Background gives us information about distance and perceived size.
Upside Down Face
Thatcher Illusion
Categorical Perception
the change in pronunciation varies between people and can mean different things – the ability to recognize this distinction is catagorical perception
Embodiment thesis
Many features of cognition are embodied in
that they are deeply dependent upon characteristics of the physical body of an agent, such that the agent’s beyond-the-brain body plays a significant causal role, or a physically constitutive role, in that agent’s cognitive processing