About the cognitive science major

I’m often asked what, exactly, I study as a cognitive science major. Cognitive science is the study of thinking–what it is, how it works, and, most importantly for my purposes, how it can be imitated and replicated.

In my case, my studies are most concerned with the non-biological side of the field. I intend to study artificial intelligence as a grad student and, of course, in the real world, too. This means the courses I take will be an equal mix of philosophy (dealing with the question of what thought and cognition “are”), psychology (dealing with how perception and cognition work together in a psyche), linguistics (dealing with the relationship between language and the mind), and my area of greatest focus, computer science (dealing with how thought and cognition can be performed by machines).

People studying cognitive science are involved in the fields I just mentioned–people on the linguistics side of cognitive science study the interaction between language and the mind, people on the psychology side study how cognition and perception work in humans. People on the philosophy side study what a mind is–for instance, Daniel Dennett wrote about where he would be if his brain and body were separated. People on the computer science side study thought for the purpose of teaching a machine to do it. The foundation for all of these studies is cognitive science, the intersection of these different fields.

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