Minds and Machines

One of the long-standing tensions in cognitive science is the relationship between human cognition and machine learning. Can modern machine learning methods teach us anything interesting about the human mind? Does cognitive psychology have a role to play in guiding the development of artificial intelligence systems? Why are machine learning systems so much better than humans at chess, but not so good at the Atari game Frostbite? The goal in this elective is to provide an introduction to the current state of the art in computational cognitive science. On the "minds" side, we'll discuss papers examining topics in human learning, reasoning, decision making and social cognition. On the "machines" side, we'll go through a very gentle introduction to programming in R and building computational models of human cognition. (previously: 2017, 2016)

Course Content


Essay questions

There are three "topics" for the essay question, each of which is designed to allow you a fair bit of flexibility in what you talk about:

Obviously, each of these is a much bigger topic than you can address in a 2000 word essay, and you are not expected to cover the full scope of your topic! Rather, you task in this essay is to select one of these topics, find a perspective on the topic that you want to address, and then write about it! In short, you have a great deal of freedom in how you choose to approach the essay.

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