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.
This seminar is intended for concentrators and advanced students in psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, or anthropology whose work involves intersections among studies of brain, culture, and evolution, and questions about human diversity and commonality. The students in the course will select a number of current issues in this broad area, choosing recent journal articles, essays, or books 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. Prerequisites: Two or more courses in relevant fields. At least three previous semesters of college work. First-year students are not eligible. Second-year students require advisor permission.
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. First-year students who meet this prerequisite are eligible.