University Relations

Fall 2009 Course Announcements

NSc 8217 "Systems and Computational Neuroscience" (2 cr.)
Instructor: Geoff Ghose
1:00-2:30 in Jackson 6-137 every Tuesday

The course will be in journal club format, in which participants present and discuss recent original research papers. The topic this semester will be "Olfactory encoding and learning."

     Classically descriptions of olfactory encoding have focused on highly distributed representations using non-linear dynamics and oscillatory rhythms. More recently, activity is focused on understanding the connections between these ensemble descriptions and the activity and properties of individual neurons. Olfaction is also increasingly being a employed as a model system for exploring questions regarding learning, memory, and decision making. The course will cover original research papers employing a variety of experimental paradigms including extracellular and intracellular recordings, EEG, and modeling.

     All interested students, faculty members, and postdocs are encouraged to attend. The course typically attracts participants from a variety of departments and perspectives. Students enrolled in the course will be expected to lead the discussion of 1 or 2 papers each session.


CGSC 8410: Perspectives in Learning, Perception, and Cognition
2 credits Section 001, Thursdays, Sept. 10 through December 10
4:00 – 5:30 p.m. in N119 Elliott Hall

Instructor: Celia Wolk Gershenson, Ph. D.
Adjunct Associate Professor, Psychology

Course Objectives/Goals:
     The objectives of the course are to provide exposure to current knowledge in the many-faceted field of cognitive sciences. The weekly presentations are designed to encompass the wide range of research areas that comprise the cognitive sciences.

Class Structure:
     The course is in the form of a colloquium series. Each session consists of a 40-50 minute presentation followed by a question and discussion period.

Class schedule:
     Please see for the most current schedule which will be available by September 4. It will be updated throughout the semester.

Course Requirements:
     Enrolled students are required to attend all colloquia, read references provided, (the references of which available online at, and actively participate in discussion sessions.   Students will submit a five to six page paper at the end of the semester in lieu of a final examination. The paper is a discussion of one or more of the colloquium presentations and the accompanying recommended articles from the semester's schedule. The essay is to include a critical summary of the work chosen along with some discussion of how the content might relate (directly or indirectly) to your own research or research that you would be interested in pursuing.  Inclusion of the interdisciplinary aspects of the presentations you have chosen and their relationship to your research interests is encouraged.


PSY 5031W: Perception (cross-listed as NSC 5031W)
Instructors: Gordon Legge, Amy Kalia
Time: Tu, Th 2:30-3:45 Place: Elliott Hall S160

     This course introduces students to known principles and contemporary theories of visual perception. The main topics include: light and vision, physiological optics, sensory coding of patterns, color vision, depth perception, object recognition, and impaired vision. The course is meant for advanced undergrads and grad students. Majors from many areas will find the course interesting, including psychology, biology, neuroscience, computer science, engineering, art, and design. Because this is a writing-intensive course (WI), some class time will be devoted to discussion of scientific writing. There will be an important focus on preparation of the term paper.


LING 8920 - Topics in Language and Cognitition
Instructor, Jeanette Gundel
Time: F 12:30-3:00 (time could be changed if all registered students agree)
Place: 229 Nolte Center (stay tuned for possible room change)

This course examines topics in Language and Cognition from a linguistic perspective. The organizing topic of the Fall 2009 offering will be interaction of linguistic knowledge with other cognitive systems.

     Advances in theoretical linguistics have made important contributions to our understanding of what we know when we know a language; but the precise manner in which linguistic knowledge interacts with other aspects of cognition when it is put to use in communication is still not well understood. We will examine this interaction (through reading and discussion) as a basis for understanding how linguistic communication works as well as how it is disrupted, for example in individuals es with Autism and Alzheimer´s disease. Some questions to be addressed include the following: How is it that we can understand what other people intend to communicate when they use language, given that the intended meaning is almost always grossly underspecified by the linguistic form alone? How critical is `theory of mind´ and attribution of intentions to the communicator in this process? How precisely does `context´ contribute to the resolution of ambiguities and indeterminacies, and what exactly is context? How do these abilities develop in children, and what are the implications of all this for how language and linguistic communication developed in the species?

     Readings will include: Sperber, D, and D, Wilson, 1995. Relevance: Communication and Cognition (2nd ed.) Oxford: Blackwell; selected papers from Novek, I.A. and D. Sperber. 2004. Experimental Pragmatics, Palgrave. Macmillan, plus additional articles yet to be determined.


Psy 8010 Seminar: Motivated Choice Behavior
Bruce J. Overmier, Instructor
03:00 P.M. - 05:30 P.M. , W (09/08/2009 - 12/16/2009
Sec 001; 3 cr; prereq honors or grad student or instructor consent

      Psychology traditionally recognizes at least two forms of learning: classical conditioning (of emotions) and instrumental learning (of actions to cope with the world). Here we shall explore how these interact to guide behavior.  We shall discuss the external and internal factors that influence choices among alternative behaviors.  Substantial attention will be given to different theories of mediation of choices and the data supporting each. Work load: 45 pages of reading per week. Grade:  Based on seminar presentations and contributions to discussions.


PSY 8960 Topics in Psychology: Proseminar in Perception (NEW!)
Oxenham and Kersten 3 cr; fall (alternate years; odd years only)

     This course is on advanced topics in perception. It will provide a solid foundation for graduate students in Cognitive and Biological Psychology (CAB), Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and anyone else interested in hearing and vision. Course directors and principal lecturers are Dan Kersten and Andrew Oxenham, but guest lectures will be given by many of the CAB faculty to provide students with a broad overview of current perception research at the U.

     The course interleaves background lectures with discussions of current research articles in auditory and visual processing. Themes include:

  • Peripheral transformations
  • Computational frameworks for sensory coding
  • Perceptual dimensions and features
  • Object perception and scene analysis
  • Visual and auditory cortex
  • Perception, action and plasticity
  • Sensory impairments and prostheses

Updated February 19, 2015