Professor of Psychology
Professor Stillings has been the principal investigator for two major National Science Foundation-supported projects to study science learning in college students. He has written and consulted widely on undergraduate cognitive science education. He is senior coauthor of the 1987 and 1995 editions of Cognitive Science: An Introduction, the first undergraduate textbook in the field.
Professor Stillings has served as the elected faculty member of Hampshire's board of trustees and was a founding member of the steering committee for the Culture, Brain, and Development Program.
His interests include learning, visual and auditory perception, and the psychology of language. Music perception, relationships between cognition and culture, and the psychology of science learning are current research interests. He is a longtime member of the University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate faculty.
This course is an introduction to the psychology and neuroscience of music. We will study the psychological and brain processes that underlie the perception and production of music, current theories about why and how music evokes emotion, and the evolutionary and developmental roots of the variation and commonalities of music across cultures and traditions. Readings are drawn from textbooks and the research literature. Students are required to complete a series of essay assignments during the term. Formal musical training is not a prerequisite for the course.
The theory of evolution has been a key to the integration of the biological sciences and to the deep understanding of many biological phenomena. In this course we look at the possible contributions of evolutionary theory to understanding some of the key characteristics that define the human species, e.g., high levels of cooperation, language, culture, morality, unique mating behaviors, religion, flexible learning capacities, and so on. We will compare alternative, in some cases competing, approaches that emphasize specific cognitive/behavioral adaptations, developmental plasticity, or the co-evolution of genes and culture. Students will research specific issues and present their findings in class and in a final paper. Prerequisites: Concentrator in 2nd year or above and at least 3 previous or concurrent courses in biology, cognitive science, psychology, or anthropology.
Scientific studies of the mind, the brain, and intelligent machines have become thoroughly intertwined. In this tutorial students will explore threads, patterns, and tensions in this rich and exciting fabric of inquiry, including contrasting theoretical perspectives, major findings, and key research methods. Readings will be drawn from books and scientific journals. Students will complete short writing assignments and a final paper on a topic of their choosing.