• 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.
  • The importance, diversity, and richness of the forms of cooperation and communication human engage in are without par among animal species. These interactions are in a relationship of mutual enhancement with four factors: evolved psychological capacities, protracted cognitive development, complex sociality, and culture. This course will explore selected empirical and philosophical issues raised by these remarkable aspects of human cooperation and cognition, regarding in particular the evolution and cultural diversity of morality, the evolution and character of communication, and theories of common ground and collective intentionality.

  • How to design good experiments in Cognitive Science

    The aim of the course is to enhance the participants’ understanding of how research questions in Cognitive Science can be addressed with experimental designs. The course will enable the participants to turn well-formulated questions about the mind and brain into experiments that produce well interpretable results. It also aims to improve participants’ ability to judge whether experiments do or do not support the conclusions drawn from them.

    There will be two parts to each session of this course. A hands-on part where the participants will help each other to design experiments that help them to answer their research questions. The more theoretical part will consist in readings/assignments that will provide good and bad examples of experiments and the use of various behavioral and neuroscience measures in Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuroscience.

  • General description: 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 rituals.


  • 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.


  • Overview

    Human brains have mechanisms for interacting with other agents that evolution has fashioned over millions of years. They are largely hidden in the manner of built-in instincts. In the first five seminars we will survey a variety of mechanisms for learning from others that are shared across many species. In seminars 5 to 8 we will consider mentalising, a mechanism that works particularly well in the niche created by human beings. In the last 4 seminars we will consider how social learning allows humans to built up culture. We will address explicit processes in cognition and how they allow another layer of social interaction. We conclude with speculations on how the sharing of experiences can result in building better models of the world than individuals can build on their own.

    Venue: CDC Seminar Room, Hattyu street 14, 3rd floor

    Tentative Seminar Title: What makes us social?

    6 Feb Defining social cognition
    6 Feb
    Are there specifically social learning mechanisms
    13 Feb
    Learning by observation: public information - imitation
    20 Feb
    Development of social cognition
    20 Feb
    Observing the kinematics of action
    27 Feb
    Atypical development of social cognition
    27 Feb
    The I-mode and the we-mode: Why and how we cooperate
    6 March
    Automatic and top-down processes of control
    13 March
    Disorders of social cognition: autism
    13 March
    Disorders of social cognition: schizophrenia
    20 March
    Metacognition, talking about the mind and the importance of culture
    27 March
    The dark side and other speculations