Why take a class in cognitive science?
If you’re interested in discovering what cognitive science is about, take COGS 100. This course is designated B-Hum / B-Sci / B-Soc, so it counts toward the university’s Breadth Requirements for undergraduates. Even if you’re not a cognitive science major - or if you’re still deciding if cognitive science is for you - you will find this course interesting.
COGS 100 is an introduction to exploring the mind, examining how major common themes from many fields contribute to our understanding of cognitive functions like memory, language, and vision. Computing science, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology students will find that COGS 100 ties in many ideas from their areas of study; but students from all disciplines will find the material covered in this course appealing. This course has no prerequisites. Students who wish to continue incorporating cognitive science into their degree can follow up with COGS 200, even if they are not declared as a cognitive science major.
See our Course Descriptions page for more information on this and other classes.
Why study cognitive science?
Cognitive science is for students who are willing to ask questions and critically engage a wide range of perspectives from different disciplines. The multi-faceted nature of cognitive science means that students will develop a variety of applicable skills and knowledge, and the ability to pursue either professional positions or further education at the graduate level.
Why study cognitive science at SFU?
The Cognitive Science Program at SFU equips students with the ability to communicate clearly; critically evaluate evidence and data; program and use computers; and apply conceptual, analytical and interpersonal skills to a variety of situations. Cognitive scientists are creative in the questions they ask, and the methods they use to study them. The Cognitive Science Program at SFU has a particular strength in the study of formal symbol systems - systems of logic, language, and structure that underlie modern advances in artificial intelligence and neuroscience. Work is also being done in distributed systems such as neural networks.
SFU has the federally endowed Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Science, Dr. Jeff Pelletier, now emeritus, who studied the relation between language and mind. This research looks at fundamental questions like whether we think in the same language that we speak, whether the words we know influence the way we think of the world, and whether our situation in the world influences the language we use. Answers to these questions improve the precision of theories of human cognition and lead to advances in producing intelligent behaviour on computers. The Program is currently in the process of hiring a new Canada Research Chair.
The Cognitive Science program at SFU is host to several researchers who specialize in computational linguistics - ways to implement humanlike language ability on computers. These researchers - including Dr. Fred Popowich, Dr. John Alderete, Dr. Anoop Sarkar, and Dr. Veronica Dahl - use methods to produce algorithms that parse, learn, and produce natural languages.In contrast, Dr. Bob Hadley, a researcher in connectionism, looks at the problem of knowledge representation and reasoning using neural networks, an architecture inspired by the brain. To see what other researchers in cognitive science are doing at SFU and where they are located, check out the map of Cognitive Science on Campus.
Cognitive Science at SFU can prepare students for careers in focused fields such as robotics, biotechnology, and industrial research & development. With an emphasis on hands-on implementation students achieve an ability to understand and analyze complex systems in precise terms.
Cognitive Science can also prepare students for careers in neuroscience. With an emphasis on biological psychology, students gain a solid foundation in the structures and functions of the human body, brain and mind, combined with an awe-inspiring curiousity into how they fit together. SFU has one neuroimaging lab on campus and uses two other advanced neuroimaging facilties nearby. Cognitive and biological researchers here study how the brain's structures, cells, hormones, and electrochemical properties produce various mental states in people with ordinary and disordered cognition.
The Cognitive Science program at SFU offers students a unified experience in the study of human nature with many opportunities to specialize in what interests you the most. The multifaceted nature of cognitive science produces well-rounded scholars who are equipped with skills to understand and succeed in the modern information age. Students can get a minor, major, or honours in Cognitive Science at SFU.