About the Cognitive Science Program

Human beings are intelligent systems in that we can learn, remember, and think. But, do computers think too? Do animals? What is thinking, anyway, and how do we do it? How is brain activity involved? What would it take to make a computer that can really see or understand language the same way we can? On a more practical level, why do diseases such as Alzheimer's and schizophrenia disrupt thought? How is it that a computer can beat a world champion in chess? These are some of the basic and applied questions addressed by the interdisciplinary field known as Cognitive Science.

Questions about intelligence and intelligent behavior have been addressed in many different domains by a variety of disciplines, such as Philosophy, Cognitive Psychology, Computer Science, and Neurobiology. The field of Cognitive Science has emerged as a basic and applied science with the primary goal of describing and explaining intelligent behavior, whether exhibited by humans, animals, or machines. Inherently interdisciplinary in nature, its unifying working hypothesis is that intelligence can be understood in terms of a set of abstract principles that are common to different types of intelligent systems. Each contributing discipline brings its unique theoretical perspective, methods, and data to bear on this common goal.

Academic programs in Cognitive Science have recently emerged at a number of leading universities. The Cognitive Science Program at Villanova includes faculty from the Departments of Psychology, Computer Science, and Philosophy, with expertise in artificial intelligence, animal behavior, perception, language processing, cognitive neuroscience, human-computer interaction, and embodied cognition. Our undergraduate program allows you to take either a minor or a concentration, and stresses skill acquisition, as opposed to a grab-bag of survey courses, and aims to foster the abilities that make students into scientists. Find out more about careers in Cognitive Science on the FAQ page.