Human beings are "intelligent systems" in that we can learn, remember, and think. But, do computers think? 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 really see or understand language as 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? Why is it so hard to program a VCR? These are some of the basic and applied questions addressed by the interdisciplinary field known as Cognitive Science.
Questions of 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 forms 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.
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.