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Cognitive Psychology: Mental Processes and their Neural Substrates

This course introduces the scientific study of mental function from an information processing perspective. The course examines how information is processed and transformed by the mind to control complex human behavior. Specific topics include an introduction to cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, perception, attention, working memory, long–term memory, knowledge, visual imagery, language, and judgment/decisions/reasoning.

Text: Cognitive Psychology: Connective Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience (Goldstein)

Format: Lecture


Cognitive Neuroscience: Exploring Mind and Brain

What happens in your brain when you are secretly paying attention to a conversation at the next table? How is that conversation recorded into memory? Cognitive neuroscience aims to address such questions by exploring the brain mechanisms that underlie human mental processing. This course will examine the neural basis of core cognitive processes including perception, attention, memory, action, and language (identified using techniques such as functional MRI, event–related potentials, and lesion studies). Other mind–brain topics that will be considered include hemispheric specialization, neural plasticity, frontal lobe function, and consciousness.

Text: Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind (Gazzaniga, Ivry, & Mangun)

Supplemental Readings: Scientific articles

Format: Lecture/seminar


Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory

Memory enables you to have skills, to communicate with other people, to make intelligent decisions, to remember your loved ones, and to know who you are. Without memory, you would not be you. Although human memory has been studied for over two thousand years, the neuroscience of human memory has only been studied for the last two decades. In this course, following an introduction on the types of memory and brain regions of interest, we will discuss the following key topics on the neuroscience of human memory: the tools of cognitive neuroscience, brain regions associated with long–term memory, brain timing associated with long–term memory, long–term memory failure, working memory, implicit memory, memory and other cognitive processes, explicit memory and disease, long–term memory in animals, and the future of memory research.

Text: Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory (Slotnick)

Supplemental Readings: Scientific articles

Format: Seminar


Methods in Human Brain Mapping

For over a century, human brain mapping has been conducted by correlating lesion location with impaired behavior. In the last decade, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) – a noninvasive neuroimaging technique with excellent spatial resolution – has given rise to an explosion of knowledge regarding the role of specific brain regions in particular types of cognitive processing (such as shifting attention or memory retrieval). The aim of this course is to provide an in–depth examination of fMRI by reviewing the physical basis of the fMRI signal and its relation to neural activity in addition to considering issues of experimental design and data analysis. Brain mapping techniques based on lesions and electrophysiology are also discussed.

Text: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Huettel, Song, & McCarthy)

Supplemental Readings: Scientific articles

Format: Lecture/lab


Controversies in Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive Neuroscience is the study of how human mental processing relates to activity in specific brain regions. In this course, current controversies in Cognitive Neuroscience will be critically examined by evaluating key articles relating to the following questions. Are there category specific processing regions in the brain (e.g., a region specialized for processing faces)? Can visual images be pictorial? Does short–term memory related activity in prefrontal cortex mirror more posterior perception related activity patterns? Do recollection and familiarity – two types of long–term memory – depend on different sub–regions of the medial temporal lobe? Does attention modulate activity in primary visual cortex?

Text: Controversies in Cognitive Neuroscience (Slotnick)

Supplemental Readings: Scientific articles

Format: Seminar