Fall Term 2013 Courses
CS 0108-1 Introduction to Philosophy is an introduction to philosophy, just as you might suppose, oriented towards the Mind, Brain and Information distribution area. Topics will be chosen from the following: minds, brains and information, language, sentences, and logic; meaning, reference and thought; theories of truth; personal identity, the self and the brain; knowledge and belief; consciousness and the neural correlates of consciousness; dreaming, brains in-a-vat and skepticism; materialism and the mind-body problem; freewill, neurological determinism and alternative possibilities; ethics. Students will be invited to complete two short (6 pages) Papers, two Exams (not unseen) and Question Sets on the reading. The Question Sets are posted on this site, and will be completed at the end of the last day of each block or topic.
This course is an overview of linguistics, the scientific study of the structure, function, and importance of human language. Students will be introduced to the main structural aspects of language: sounds (phonetics and phonology), words (morphology), sentences (syntax), and meanings (semantics). We will also examine how language allows interaction between individuals in specific contexts (pragmatics), in cultural settings (anthropological linguistics), and in the society at large (sociolinguistics). Finally, the course will take a closer look at the Quechua languages of South America. We will explore what it means for a language to be written and "standardized," and the role of linguistic standardization and literacy in indigenous communities. The ultimate goal of the course is to show how language matters at every level in everybody's life.
This course will examine some of the most influential research in the field of social psychology. Social psychology may best be defined as the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are affected by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. In this course, we will be examining research on conformity, persuasion, obedience, attraction, aggression, prejudice, and others. Evaluations will be based on a series of short papers throughout the semester as well as a final paper.
Worried about climate change and how we will live sustainably in the future? Join us to brainstorm and assess solutions together. This will be a course for first year students interested in learning how to evaluate potential solutions to current local and global environmental and social problems. The course will be co-taught by faculty across the curriculum at Hampshire and will include both large lectures and breakout working groups. The course will be divided into modules focused on specific problems and potential solutions, such as how the arts can help educate and engage the public in making positive changes for sustainable living; whether a cap-and-trade system can reduce carbon emissions efficiently and equitably; why humans are so resistant to changing our habits; or how we might ameliorate losses to biodiversity due to climate change. In addition to engagement in readings, lectures, discussion and activities, small teams of students will be expected to explore a problem in greater depth.
What techniques do people in your field use when trying to be creative? What techniques are used in science? In the various arts? How do you know any of these techniques are effective? Students will try out creativity techniques for individuals and groups that have come from inventors and artists as well as the fields of philosophy, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and engineering. As students engage with these techniques, they will begin to formulate a sense of the psychological and neural dynamics involved in being stuck and creativity getting unstuck. They will also be exposed to the scientific evidence for each technique. Each student will develop their own personal toolkit of creativity techniques - their own creativity profile - that they can use and refine for the rest of their lives. This course is for people from all fields who want to improve their creativity and understand the underlying science.
The experience of everyday politics for most Westerners is largely an aesthetic one. People partake in a cultural citizenship, where political actors, issues and institutions are but one more set of representations and simulations that compete for attention by offering pleasure. This situation is partly due to the shift away from direct political participation and partly the result of an increasingly mediatized public culture. We will explore this notion critically with a focus on the contemporary US.
This course will examine language learning from a cognitive perspective and consider the relative contributions of genetics and environment to the process of language acquisition. In the course we will examine how children learn words, how they learn to put words together to form sentences and how they learn to use language appropriately in social situations. We will look at children learning two or more languages simultaneously and at children who, in very rare cases, have been altogether deprived of language. We will look at language learning under conditions of significant environmental deprivation such as when children are born blind or deaf and also look at language learning in children with cognitive impairments such as those born with William's syndrome. Time permitting, we will discuss clinical conditions in which there is significant involvement of the language system such as autism, and childhood aphasia. The course will emphasize reading and discussion of primary literature.
What is the mind? Are mental states behavioral dispositions? Or brain processes? Or functional or computational states? Or is there no such thing as the mind, but only the brain? How is the mind related to the body? How can a physical event in space cause a mental event of which we become aware? Consciousness: what is it and what is it doing there in an otherwise physical universe? Is knowledge of experience knowledge of something physical? Why is there a gap between the physical world and what we experience? How can physical beings such as we are or partly are develop things like intentions and beliefs? Stones can't have intentions. Why not? Emphasis is on the understanding of existing theories in the field and the development of students' own views through portfolio and notebook work.
Prerequisite: At least one previous class in philosophy
This course will provide a comprehensive introduction to many of the statistical methods used in experimental research. Although most analyses are currently conducted with the aid of computers, it is important to understand the principles behind those analyses. The main focus of this course will not only be to learn how to do calculations by hand, but to understand the underlying theory behind the calculations. In addition, you will learn why and when to use these statistics in evaluating data sets. These skills are essential to understanding research articles and conducting your own research.
This course surveys the main theoretical ideas in ethology, the scientific study of animal behavior. We explore the physiological, developmental, functional and evolutionary bases of behavior as well as related issues in the study of cognition. The main reading and discussion material for the course is drawn from journal articles in the professional scientific literature; students are also expected to read John Alcock's standard textbook, Animal Behavior. Two summary/critique papers on the journal articles will be required, along with a report on a public lecture relevant to the themes of the course, and a full-length paper on a species and research topic of the student's choosing. The final project will also be presented to the whole class either orally or in a poster session.
Public diplomacy employs culture in international relations, whose principal means of exchange are political, economic and military. Increasingly, these traditional forms are augmented by culture, an important example of "soft power," a way of exerting global influence that appears to be unthreatening, even humanitarian. Public diplomacy raises questions about cultural imperialism, claims that some cultural forms are universal, notions that some culture practices foster peace, etc. This course will critically explore mainly US public diplomacy but also efforts by multilateral organizations like the UN and by international NGOs.
All students in the cognitive, neural, and psychological sciences should be familiar with certain key concepts. This course surveys these central ideas to give students the vocabulary needed to approach the research literature without being intimidated by a barrage of technical terms and to hold intelligent conversations with other students and faculty members who are interested in matters of mind, brain, and machine. Readings in the course will be drawn from books and journals in the field. Students will complete a series of essay assignments concerning the concepts covered in the course. There will be no final project. Prerequisite: At least one prior course in psychology, linguistics, computer science/AI, neuroscience, philosophy, anthropology, or animal behavior.
This course will expose students to two important subfields of the artificial intelligence literature, as well as to their intersection: artificial neural networks and evolutionary computation. Students will both learn basic theory and state-of-the-art work in these fields by reading and commenting on primary sources of current research. Students will also have the opportunity to work with software packages implementing these two machine learning techniques and implementing their own projects/experiments. Particular attention will be placed on using these techniques in human-cognition-like tasks.
By the end of this course successful students will be knowledgable on the basic theory related to artificial neural networks and evolutionary computation. Successful students will also know how find, understand, and apply both these techniques and recent research in these areas to their own hands-on interests.
Students will be evaluated based on two primary types of output:a number of short review papers and/or presentations they will produce throughout the semester about the theory and current practice of artificial neural networks and evolutionary computation. a longer paper and presentation on the application of artificial neural networks and evolutionary computation to a particular problem of their choosing. This longer piece of work, which will be due at the end of the semester, will involve submitting shorter preparatory pieces throughout earlier parts of the semester.
AC - Vocal Learning in Birds, and paralles to human language acquisition.
From insects to primates, animals communicate in a variety of ways using signal modalities such as vibration, vocalizations, colors, scents, and gestures. This course focuses on the evolution of communication signals with an emphasis on both signal function and mechanism. We will explore communication in various animal groups, but examine vocal learning in birds in depth as a focal example in this class. We will investigate the pattern of song learning and compare this process to human language acquisition. Topics will range from communication theory, signal transmission, and the cultural evolution of learned signals (to name a few). Topics will also cover debates such as signal reliability and investigate when animals may be bluffing, and when evolution has led to honest signals. Students will be responsible for weekly reflections on primary literature readings, two in-class presentations of a short topic, and one final project and presentation. This is an advanced course, with the expectation of building on the basic tenants of Animal Behavior learned previously. Prerequisite: one prior course in Animal Behavior.
Computation can be performed not only by silicon chips and electricity but also by many other things including tinker toys, billiard balls, water pipes, lights and mirrors, vats of chemicals, DNA, bacteria, and quantum mechanical systems. Furthermore, in some models of computation billions of events may take place simultaneously, with or without synchronization and with or without explicit programming. Some of these unconventional models of computing appear to provide advantages over current technology and may serve as the basis for more powerful computers in the future. In this course we will survey a wide range of unconventional computing concepts, we will consider their implications for the future of computing technology, and we will reconsider conventional computing concepts in this broader context. Prerequisite: At least two courses in computer science
This course is intended for concentrators and advanced students whose work involves mind, brain, behavior, or intelligent machines and who are studying disciplines such as cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, linguistics, computer science, animal behavior, education, and so on. The students in the course will select a number of current issues in this broad area, choosing recent journal articles, essays, or books in each area for discussion. Each week students will be expected to write a discussion paper or contribute to a web forum and to engage in intensive discussion during the single class meeting. Leadership of at least one class meeting, and an extended paper on one of the course issues is also required. Prerequisite: Two or more courses in relevant fields
Can androids fall in love? Could a planet have a mind of its own? How might we communicate with alien life forms? Will it ever be possible for two people to "swap minds"? How about a person and a robot? Might we someday be able to buy memories, record dreams, or "read" books by eating pills? Cognitive science research can shed light on many of these questions, with answers that are often as strange and as wonderful as the inventions of science fiction authors. In this course we will read and view science fiction while simultaneously reading current scientific literature about the mind, the brain, and intelligent machines. The science fiction will provide a framework for our discussions, but the real goal of the course is to provide a tour of issues in cognitive science that will prepare students for more advanced cognitive science courses.
This course will expose students to topics in computer programming and artificial intelligence by both reading primary literature on the topic and programming virtual creatures in high level programming languages. No previous programming experience is necessary. By the end of the course successful students will have acquired programming skills at an introductory level and will be ready for additional courses in computer science. In addition, students will have gained knowledge related to several general topics in the cognitive sciences, such as vision, artificial intelligence, neural networks, and evolution.