Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary field devoted to the study of the mind, the brain, and computing technology.

Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary field devoted to the study of the mind, the brain, and computing technology. 

Hampshire's diverse program serves students with interests in many areas, including psychology, philosophy, linguistics, biology, animal behavior, computer science, education, child development, learning, digital multimedia, and the social effects of new information technology.

Many different types of concentrations and projects can be organized in whole or in part around the study of the remarkable capacities of the mind and brain or around the potential of computers and digital technologies.

Faculty pursue a wide range of research and professional work, which provides students with extensive opportunities for hands-on projects, apprenticeships, and internships.

Student Project Titles

  • Reading, the Brain, and Reading the Brain: a developmental study in working memory and N400 amplitude
  • The Relation Between Learning Success and both Cognitive Level and the Acquisition of Foundational Concepts
  • Neuroendocrine Correlates of Altruism and Aggression
  • Metaphor in the Mind
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder in Silicon Valley
  • Beyond Good and Evil: The Neurobiology of Morality
  • Exploring Animal Assisted Therapy with Children and Adolescents
  • Fragile X Syndrome: from Neuron to Cognition

Sample First-Year Course

Telling Our Stories: Development and Functions of Autobiographical Memory

Autobiographical memories of personal past experiences create our life stories. Our memories range from the mundane to the momentous. In this course we will explore the functions of autobiographical memory as well as its development. Why do we share stories of our pasts? How do we interpret past events to inform the development of our self identity? How do social experiences contribute to the development of memory? What are the basic cognitive processes that contribute to our ability to remember and report the past? In addition to examining these questions, we will also explore the role of culture on the functions, socialization, and expression of autobiographical memories. Students will read primary literature, write a series of short papers, present summaries of articles, and complete a group research project related to the material for the course.

Sample Courses at Hampshire

  • Aliens: Close Encounters of a Multidisciplinary Kind
  • Adolescent Development
  • Child Language
  • Cognitive Development
  • Culture, Mind & Brain
  • Cultural Norms & Theories of Human Development
  • Data Structures
  • Exploring the Unconscious Mind
  • Genetic Programming
  • How People Learn
  • Inquiries into the Mind
  • Intro to Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language & the Mind
  • Minds, Brains & Machines: The 50 Key Ideas
  • Neurophysiological Mechanisms
  • The Neuroscience of Personality
  • Research Lab in Animal Communication & Robotics
  • Sex on the Brain: Gender, Sex & Biology
  • Storytelling, Mind & Culture
  • Telling Our Stories: Development & Functions of Autobiographical Memory
  • Understanding Autobiographical Memory
  • What Computers Can't Do

Through the Consortium

  • Artificial Intelligence (AC)
  • Cognition & Instructional Design (SC)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience (SC)
  • Feminism & Knowledge (MHC)
  • Memory (AC)
  • Science & Gender (AC)
  • Seminar in Foundations of Behavior: Adventures in Space Perception (SC)

Facilities and Resources

Hampshire has an Event Related Potential (ERP) lab, where the researcher can present a subject with a stimulus and simultaneously record the subject's brainwave activity. In this way, the researcher can glean information about the timecourse, and to a lesser degree the location, of brain activity correlated with sensory perceptual and cognitive stimulus processing.

Facilities used to conduct ERP research are relatively rare among undergraduate institutions, but at Hampshire the ERP lab is in frequent use by advanced-level students who design their own original experiments with funding from the Culture, Brain, and Development program.

Cognitive Development and the Psychology of Children
Students interested in cognitive development and the psychology of children may be drawn to the Hampshire College Early Learning Center and schools and organizations in the surrounding community to provide opportunities for critical thinking and observation about child development and education in a broader real-world context. The Child Development Research Laboratory in Adele Simmons Hall can be used for a variety of studies designed to examine children's behavior and social interactions.