• This course covers recent cognitive science research on the role of the body in shaping human and animal cognition. Research in this field claims to provide a new look on human experiences, the architecture of cognition, and the evolutionary roots of human intelligence. The following topics will be discussed: 1) The emergence of embodiment approaches in cognitive robotics; 2) Basic psychological and physiological processes of perception and movement control; 3) Embodied theories of higher level cognition; 4) The return of phenomenological approaches in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience.

    Regular classes, Mon 15.30 - 17.10

    Double classes, Mon 15.30 – 19.00 

    No class on 14thJan, 4thFeb, 25thFeb

    Double classes on 21stJan, 11thFeb, 11thMar, 18thMar

    Ends on 18thMar

  • Academic Writing for Cognitive Scientists

    Course description:This course aims at improving oral and written presentation skills that are vital for Cognitive Scientists. How does one present experimental results most effectively in a paper? What are good strategies for dealing with reviewers’ comments when revising a paper? How does one write a review? What makes for a good oral presentation? Course participants will learn about all of these and many more aspects of exposition through hands-on experience.

    Instructor: Natalie Sebanz

    Office Hours: by appointment (e-mail sebanzn@ceu.hu)

    Class: Tuesday 9:00 - 10:40/Tuesday 11:00 – 12:40 (see details below)

  • What are the psychological bases of the rich social interactions and cultural life that characterise human societies? This course will review some of the answers provided by recent studies in cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology and cognitive anthropology. It will cover a wide range of topics related to social cognition, including: 

    • Mind reading
    • Communication, social learning, imitation, and, more generally, the cognitive bases of cultural phenomena
    • Joint action and co-operation
    • Naive sociology
    • The biological evolution of social cognitive capacities
    • Relation between social cognition and reasoning

    The course will be based on seminal scientific articles, which should be read each week. It will include lectures from researchers of the department, who will explain how their research field contribute to the study of social cognition. It is a core course for the first year PhD students in cognitive science.

    The course is structured in four parts that focus on different aspects of social cognition and different approaches in its study. The first part is focused on the social cognitive skills that humans have. It will include courses on mind-reading, social psychology and naïve sociology. The second part is focused on culture and cognition. It will review theories on the cognitive foundations of cultural stability and diversity. The third part looks at the evolution of social behaviour. It will provide examples of non human social behaviour and will review the evolutionary theories of cooperative behaviour. The fourth part will explore the hypotheses according to which reasoning is itself strongly related to social cognition.

  • Social and cognitive sciences approaches to religion (Instructors: Vlad Naumescu and Dan Sperber)
    Explaining religion has been a main goal of the social sciences and in particular of anthropology. It has now become an important goal for naturalistic approaches to culture (cognitive and evolutionary). This course will explore both the tensions and the potential complementarities between social-scientific and naturalistic approaches by looking at the way they frame and try to answer central questions in the study of religion and in particular of beliefs and ritual.

  • Issues in the study of inference, reasoning and rationality (Instructor: Dan Sperber)
    In a series of recent articles (available at https://sites.google.com/site/hugomercier/theargumentativetheoryofreasoning), Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber have developed a new evolutionary and cognitive approach to reasoning: the Argumentative Theory. The course will outline the theory and revisit in its light central issues in the psychology of inference and in the philosophy of rationality.

  • The origins ofUnderstanding Instrumental and Communicative Agency in Human Infants

    Theoreticalrationality and practical rationality are, respectively, properties of anindividual’s belief-system and decision-system. While reasoning aboutinstrumental actions complies with practical rationality, understandingcommunicative actions complies with the principle of relevance. In this course,we review current evidence showing that young infants can reason about anagent’s instrumental action by representing her subjective motivations and theepisodic contents of her epistemic states (including false beliefs). We’ll thencover recent work showing infants’ early sensitivity to ostensive behavioralsignals that encode an agent’s communicative intention. We address the puzzleof imitative learning of novel means actions by one-year-olds and argue that itcan be resolved only by assuming that the infant construes the model’sdemonstration as a communicative, not an instrumental, action. We summarize theevidence for the early use of ostensive communication as a mechanism ofcultural knowledge transmission (natural pedagogy). It’ll be argued that thisevolved system enables infants to acquire kind-wide generalizations from thenon-verbal demonstrations of communicative agents. We’ll show how generalizationsabout kinds supported by natural pedagogy have the same logical content andsemantic properties as those encoded by generic expressions in naturallanguages. We review evidence showing that this kind of generic content biasesthe acquisition, interpretation, and reasoning about generalizations expressedby sentences containing explicit quantifiers in older children and even adults.We’ll examine how natural pedagogy and probability-based Bayesian inductivelearning mechanisms interact during infancy.

  • Pro-social preferences and strategic interactions


     How do humans take decisions when in a strategic situation?  In a strategic situation, the consequences of one's decision (1) are partly determined by the decisions of some other individuals, (2) will affect others' payoffs, thoughts and behaviors. In this research course, we will read and discuss papers about the psychological factors that underpin decision making in strategic situations.We will mainly draw on the literature in behavioural game theory ‑‑ a sub‑field of behavioural economics.

     What are the psychological mechanisms with which humans deal with strategic situations, modulating their behaviors in accordance with the specifics of the situation and the interaction partners? Taking decisions that involve others' choices and payoffs requires making inferences about partners' intentions, preferences and beliefs, forming accurate expectations and then acting accordingly. It turns out that people do take into consideration the consequences that their action will have on others; in the language of economics, they have other-regarding preferences. In the first part of the course, we will review the research done on other-regarding preferences. In the second part of the course, we will extend the analysis to more complex strategic interactions. We will analyze, with the help of game theory, issues such as coordination among agents and strategic situations such as repeated games.

  • Approaches to cognitive modeling

    This course gives a comprehensive overview of the fundamental concepts and tools of modern approaches to cognitive phenomena in animals and humans. The course will also provide an entry‑level hands‑on experience with the essential programming tools and computational methods necessary for conducting research and gain deeper understanding of how the mind works. We will start with clarifying the role of modeling and rational analysis as a tool for understanding our world. Next, we review the two major approaches to cognitive modeling that had emerged in the past: connectionism and normative approaches. In the third part of the course, we will discuss particular areas of cognition that scientists investigated with the help of cognitive models including active learning, neuroeconomics, decision‑theory, motor and sensorimotor control. At the end of the course, we will contrast and synthetize a general set of tools and concepts that might handle computationally all aspects of cognition. Through the course there will be computer simulations that demonstrate the major concepts reviewed in the classes.
    Please note that there is no class on 10th January because of the BCCCD13 conference.
  • The shared-intentionality model of human social cognition


    I believe that this model is enormously influential in various empirical approaches to human social cognition. It derives much of its appeal from its ability to integrate a wide variety of evidence ranging from cognitive neuroscience to developmental psychology. While the shared-intentionality model stresses the role of inter-personal similarity for social understanding, it also assumes that there are preconditions for sharing mental states and mental representations with others. This seminar scrutinize the main assumptions of the shared-intentionality model of social cognition by addressing such topics as: the simulation approach to mindreading, pretence, empathetic understanding, vicarious experiences, the relation between mirroring and imagining, and embodied cognition. It will alternate lectures and students’ presentations of papers selected from relevant areas in the cognitive sciences.