Hello there! My name is Andy Chen, a current Senior at Westtown school. This semester, I plan to take an independent science course to furthers my interests in Cognitive Science. Let’s get started!
So first, what is Cognitive Science?
When Cognitive Science first emerged in the late 1900s, scientists were unsure about its domain: was it “Cognitive Psychology under a new name,” or “an offshoot of artificial intelligence?” (Estes, 1991, p. 282).
In fact, Cognitive Science was an interdisciplinary approach of the scientist community to study the complex human minds. It combines the fields of Psychology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Anthropology, Neuroscience, and Artificial Intelligence(computation). Scientists involved in the areas held similar tough questions about our mind for decades before Cognitive Science was born. So at one point, those scientists gathered in a meeting and determined to construct a new cross-disciplinary study that researches the human mind with techniques and professions from each of the six fields.
Image: Cognitive Science Components
Fun Fact: Each of the fields had had connections before Cognitive Science was created, such as Neuroscience-Psychology and Linguistic-Anthropology.
Cognitive Science and me
With previous interests in Psychology, particularly human reasoning, I signed up for a Psychology course at Cornell Univesity Summer School in 2017. Among the list of courses offered, I also registered for the course Intro to Cognitive Science, which included part of Psychology but also other aspects that I had little experience with. In classes, I mostly learned about neurological models of minds and modern application of Cognitive science. As I wanted to know more about the field after the course, I joined the online Cognitive Science Society forum under my professor’s recommendation, consequently gaining access to academic journals. Finding articles about human reasoning and memorization particularly intriguing, I started to realized that psychology is but one facet to understanding our multi-layered thoughts. In one psychology paper that analyzed the impact of modular instruction on memorization, the authors conceded that studies on innate neurological foundations of task memorization remain inconclusive. Therefore, to even begin to study the complexity of the human mind, we need collaboration between multiple fields.
As I learned more through journals and Ted Talks, I realized that Cognitive Science gives more satisfying explanations for psychological phenomena and potentially has a more promising future. Meanwhile, people barely know much about this field; most haven’t even heard of it. So I invited two of my peers and together presented a literature review for a journal that I recently read (Karma or Immorality: Can Religion Influence Space-time Mapping?) to my community on the first Westtown Science Fair 2018. Indeed, the audience showed vast interests in the field and asked inspiring questions that incited me to do further research.
My plan for this semester
This semester, I plan to use the online course Sensation and Perception from MIT Open Courseware as a keystone to further my research in human sensation and perception via biological receptors. I also plan to conduct a related psychological experiment at Westtown and present the research on the Westtown Science Fair 2019. Starting today, I would begin my research in sensation with the visual system. On the next post, I plan to present the fundamentals of human vision, how our eyes receive and process visual information, and potentially a technology product related to visual processes.
American Federation of Teachers. (n.d.). Ask the Cognitive Scientist. Retrieved January 29, 2019, from American Federation of Teachers website: https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/summer-2002/ask-cognitive-scientist
Benjamin Balas. 9.35 Sensation And Perception. Spring 2009. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.eduLicense: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.
Bermúdez, J. L. (2014). Cognitive science: An introduction to the science of the mind (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chen, A. (2018, February 8). What is Cognitive Science? [Blog post]. Retrieved from Cognitive Science Blog: https://bchencogs.blog/2018/02/08/what-is-cognitive-science/
Cognitive Science [Illustration]. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Estes, W. K. (1991). What Is Cognitive Science? Psychological Science, 2(5), 282. Retrieved from JSTOR database.