Courses we Offer

Introduction to Cognitive Science

Course Outline

This course will focus on a contemporary account of perception andcognition according to which a cognitive agent actively constructs the world that he or sheexperiences. We will review recent research in neuro-physiology and psychology that supportsthis account, and also examine its philosophical and computational implications. For example,knowing how our visual experiences are constructed by our visual system can help us designbetter techniques for image processing and machine vision.

Teaching Approach

This is a discussion-based course. Reading material will be assigned ineach class, which everyone is supposed to read and discuss in the class. There will be classpresentations also, and each participant is required to do at least one presentation.

Grading Criteria

There will be no exams, but a term paper will be required. By the mid-semester you will be required to hand in a one-paragraph paper proposal containing a briefoutline of your topic and a short bibliography. The full paper (about 8-10 pages) will be due onthe last day of classes in this semester. The ?nal grades will be decided based on your term paper, class presentation, weekly report and class participation.

Weekly Reports

Every week, you are supposed to submit a brief (about one to two pages)write-up about one issue that struck as most interesting in the previous week's reading materialand/or discussion. Do not try to summarize the discussion, or the reading material. Just mentionone point clearly that you felt was most thought provoking. Include any additional referencesyou found (besides the reading material.)

Presentation Tips

In class presentations, do not emphasize de?nitions and facts, though some may be necessary. Focus on demonstrating some point, whether through experimental evidenceor some other means. If possible, try to include some open or controversial issues that stimulatediscussion.


The following weekly schedule is tentative. Depending on the interest andbackground of the participants, additional topics will be added, and some of the topicsmentioned here may be abridged or skipped in order to make room.

Week Topic

1 Introduction to a constructivist approach to cognition2 Constructivism in vision: 3-d information and surfaces 3-4 Cognitive construction of color and motion5 Active vision: Inattentional blindness, change blindness etc. 6 Constructivism in auditory perception7 Constructivism in tactile perception8 Neurophysiological research supporting constructivism9 Cognition and Language10 Cognition and Religion11 Cognition and Science 12 Cognition and Culture13 Cognition and Creativity14 Open discussion Pre-requisites: This course is aimed at mature and research-oriented students. If you can thinkindependently can take initiative in posing interesting questions and searching for theiranswers you will do ?ne in this course. Of course, you also have to be interested in learning about how the mind works!

Reference material:

Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See by D.D. Hoffman.Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V.S. Ramachandran.The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales by Oliver Sacks The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge Other material (papers, parts of other books) will be provided as necessary.

Introduction to Cognitive Neurophysiology


Cognitive neurophysiology is an academic ?eld concerned with the scienti?c study of biological substrate underlying cognition, with a speci?c focus on the neural substrates of mental processes and their behavioral manifestations. In this introductory course, we will study the neurophysiology of thebrain, and how different brain areas are involved in different aspects of perception and cognition.

This course is followed by Cognitive Neuroscience

Course Outline:

Prerequisite: Intro. to Cog. Sci. or permission of the instructor.

Grading Criteria: Term paper, in-class presentations, 2-3 interim research reports.

Suggested Readings: will be assigned in the class.

Advanced Cognitive Science

Course Outline

This class will delve deeper into contemporary accounts of perception andcognition according to which a cognitive agent actively constructs the world that he or sheexperiences. We will be reading research papers, identifying open problems, and exploringapproaches to address these problems by building experimental models. Some research areasthat we may be looking into are as follows:

Teaching approach and grading criteria: This will be a discussion-based course. Readingmaterial will be assigned for each class, which everyone is suppose to read and discuss. Therewill be presentations from the participants. About halfway through the semester each participantis supposed to identify a research topic (individually or in groups of two), which they willexplore in the rest of the semester.

The grades will be based on class participation, class presentations, and research project (termpaper and presentation.)


A grade of B or above in the Introduction to Cognitive Science course, orpermission of the instructor.

Type of course

Free elective.

Class size: Fifteen or less

Cognitive Neuroscience


Cognitive neuroscience is an academic field concerned with the scientific study of biological substrates underlying cognition, with a specific focus on the neural substrates of mental processes. It addresses the questions of how psychological/cognitive functions are produced by the brain.

This is a follow-up course to Intro. to Cognitive Neurophysiology.

Course Outline

Usability Engineering


The focus of this subject is on human-computer interaction and speci?cally on making interfaces with high usability. Usability is basically about making a product easy to use (user friendly) and isconcerned with design, implementation, and evaluation of interfaces, and study of various issuesaffecting the user interaction � whether a website, software application, mobile device, roboticsystem, or any other user-operated product. The goal is to ensure the safety, utility, effectiveness,ef?ciency, accessibility and usability of such products or systems. The underlying vision of usabilityengineering is to offer an approach for designing and developing computational environments thatcater to the broadest possible range of human abilities (cognitive and physical), skills, requirement,and preferences.

This course is designed to give an overview of various methodologies of usability engineering,knowing user-centered design with focus on cognitive science, evaluation techniques (usabilitytesting). The course will give students an overall understanding of the ?eld and would help themknow that usability is not a luxury but a fundamental requirement of any interactive software or anyother interface.

The course would allow the students to develop design skills by reading some experimental papers,discussions, dealing with practical design problems and doing small projects as a part of the coursework.


The course is aimed at 3rd/4th year students and graduate students. Intro. to Cog. Sci.course is recommended.

Course Duration

13 weeks

Course Outline