University Relations

Spring 2014 Course Announcements

LING 5900: Topics in Linguistics sec 005 (3 credits)
Instructor: Tim Hunter
10:00am - 12:30pm, Wednesdays
Lind Hall 216

Description: Computing Meanings

(Listed as both LING5900, section 005, and LING8900, section 003.)

Description: Introduction to mathematical and computational tools for assgining meanings to natural language sentences. Foundational skills for the development of formal models of human language syntax and semantics, and for practical applications of language technology such as text understanding and question-answering. Topics include logical inference predication, argument structure, and quantification; and syntactic structure and displacement. No previous knowledge of semantics is necessary.

Pre-requisite: LING 4201 or 5201 or instructor consent.


LING 5900: Topics in Linguistics sec 004 (3 credits)
Instructor: Tim Hunter
3:00 - 5:30pm, Mondays
Lind Hall 216

Description: Semantics as a Mental Phenomenon

(Listed as both LING5900, section 004, and LING8900, section 002)

Description: This course will discuss various efforts to incorporate the standard findings and methodologies of formal semantics, mainly using quantification as a case study, into the conception of language as an explicitly mental/cognitive phenomenon. How can proposals of the sort usually be made in the study of semantics be understood as -- or developed into -- hypotheses about cognitive systems? What sort of evidence can we use to test these cognitive hypotheses empirically? After reviewing some basic semantics, much of the course will be devoted to reading experimental research papers. Previous knowledge of semantics will be helpful, but certainly not necessary.

Pre-requisites: LING 4201 or 5201 or instructor consent.


IDSc 8721 Behavioral Decision Theory (2 credits)
Instructor: Shawn P. Curley
1:45 - 3:25 pm, Mondays & Wednesdays
Room: TBD

How do we go about making choices and the judgments on which they are based? What are some of the biases to which we are prone in making choices and judgments, and how do they arise? Can we improve upon our decision practices? Questions like these motivate and frame research in behavioral decision making.

A large portion of the covered research can be conceptualized as arising from origins in normative decision theory. Normative decision theory represents decision making in terms of preferences over consequences and beliefs about possible events. In order to put this theory into practice, several descriptive components must come from the decision makers: their preferences, their judgments concerning the possible contingencies that might arise, and the variables/factors/actions that comprise the decision structure--the relevant elements for making the decision. Behavioral decision theory is interested in these descriptive components, and the cognitive processes by which they arise and affect choice.

The course is a graduate level treatment of topics in decision theory from a behavioral perspective. The course will be primarily in seminar format. We will look at both traditional and current research in the field to understand and integrate some of the major models and methodologies employed in the field of behavioral decision theory. The course covers models and issues of preference, judgment, and uncertainty. We will begin by going through the following text:

Yates JF. (1990). Judgment and decision making. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Beginning with Week 3 of the course, we will use our class time to discuss original journal articles on selected topics. As an example, you can view the course schedule from the last time the course was taught (Spring-B, 2012) linked from my home page:

Auditors are welcome; please contact the instructor with any questions about the course.


CPsy 4310: Special Topics in Child Psychology (3 credits)
10:10am - 12:40pm, Fridays
Peik Hall 335

Description: Second Language Learning In Children


COURSE DESCRIPTION: Understanding second language learning by young children is important for both theoretical and practical reasons. From a theoretical standpoint, it will lead to a better understanding of how the ability to learn languages changes with development. From a practical standpoint, this knowledge is relevant to accelerating second language learning by children who enter English schools with little knowledge of English. The seminar is designed to introduce students to theory and evidence on second language learning by young children. Students in the seminar will:

  • 1. Expand their knowledge of the biological, perceptual, cognitive and social factors related to second language learning by children.
  • 2. Participate in discussion and debate on how these factors affect second language learning in young children.
  • 3. Synthesize and apply course content to questions relevant to educators of children of different ages who are learning second languages in schools.

PREREQUISITES: This is an advanced course in child development, and given its narrow focus, topics will be covered in great detail. Students will be expected to have previous experience with developmental research, and be required to have taken Introductory Child Psychology (CPSY 2301/3301). It is recommended that students have also taken Language Development and Communication (CPSY 4345).

COURSE FORMAT: Class sessions will alternate between lecture and discussion, with the instructor providing background material in lecture format, and students leading discussions on the weekly readings and topics. Thus, regular class attendance is required. Students who are not leading the weekly presentations are expected to come to class having completed the readings, having written a short reaction paper, and thus ready to discuss the topic.


CLASS PARTICIPATION (15%) Informed and engaged class participation will be required of every student. Thus, students need to come to class having completed all assignments as scheduled.

REACTION PAPERS (15%) Students will be required to write brief reaction papers weekly. Reaction papers should be typed and approximately one page in length (single spaced, 1 inch margin, 12 point font). Reaction papers should demonstrate that you have read the assigned readings and are thinking critically about the issues presented

STUDENT-LEAD DISCUSSIONS (30%) In addition to the text by Tabors, each student will be required to lead 2-3 discussions of the additional required readings. In these presentations, students will be expected to introduce the topic and provide background information, summarize the reading, and come to class with 3-5 questions to engage the other students in a critical discussion of the material.

FINAL PAPER (20%) Students should select a topic related to second language learning that interests them, and write an 8-10 page paper (double spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 point font, APA style). Your paper should be based on scientific references.

INDIVIDUAL ORAL PRESENTATION (20%) Students will prepare a brief (20-minute) presentation of their final papers.


KIN 4133 Perceptual-Motor Control and Learning (3 credits)
Instructor: Thomas Stoffregen
9:45 - 11:00 am, Tuesdays & Thursdays
Cooke Hall 214

Description: Perceptual-Motor Control and Learning


Description: Kinesiology 4133 (Perceptual-motor control and learning) is an introduction to the emergence and stabilization of motor skills. The primary focus is on how we are able to coordinate movement -- movement of different parts of the body relative to one another, and movement of the body relative to the environment. The class is relevant to students who are interested in movement and development over the lifespan and issues of perception and action, in general. Most students in previous classes have career goals in the fields of human development, education, exercise physiology, or physical rehabilitation. Kin 4133 is not a course about development or enhancement of athletic abilities, coaching, or sports performance, although we will occasionally discuss examples from these areas. By the end of the course, students will have a broad awareness of many of the factors involved in the perceptual guidance of motor coordination. The class will operate at a fast pace and will require reading of original scientific literature, and brief daily writing assignments.

Class Time: 80% Lecture, 5% Discussion, 15% Laboratory.

Work Load: 40 pages reading per week, 10 pages writing per term, 3 exams. 5 lab projects, including short papers

Grade: 20% mid exam, 25% final exam, 10% reports/papers, 25% laboratory evaluation, 20% other evaluation. additional exam

Exam Format: multiple choice, with short essays


KIN 4136 Embodied Cognition (3 credits)
Instructor: Thomas Stoffregen
1:00 - 2:15 pm, Tuesdays & Thursdays
Cooke Hall 214

Description: Embodied Cognition


Description: Introduction to relations between physical behavior and mental activity including cognitive, emotional, and social aspects. Concepts of embodied cognition, their relation to traditional concepts of mind/body. Lifespan development, empirical research.


EPsy 8114 Seminar: Cognition and Learning (3 credits)
Instructor: Panyiota Kendeou
2:30 - 5:10 pm, Thursdays
Education Sciences Building 320

Description: Current Directions in Reading Comprehension Research


Reading comprehension remains one of the most important means of knowledge acquisition and lifelong, independent learning. In this seminar, we will focus on the discussion of current research in the area of reading comprehension with the aim to advance our understanding of the underlying cognitive processes involved in text comprehension and their implications for pedagogy and assessment. Main topics include the development of reading comprehension skills, current theories of reading comprehension, text structure, task demands, individual differences (in reading skill, working memory, prior knowledge, epistemology) and standards of coherence. Graduate students are invited to register for the course, regardless of disciplinary background.


NSCi 3100 Mind and Brain (3 credits)
Instructor: David Redish
1:00 - 2:15 pm, Mondays & Wednesdays
Nils Hasselmo Hall 2-101

Description: Mind and Brain

Description: Student may contact the instructor or department for information.

(To sign up for this new course, sign up for section 001 of Nsci 4151 "Advanced Topics in Neuroscience". This will be the same class as Nsci 3100, including all of the same credits.)


EEB 5322 Evolution and Animal Cognition (3 credits)
Instructor: Dave Stephens
3:00 - 4:15 pm, Tuesdays & Thursdays
McNeal Hall 395

Description: Evolution and Animal Cognition

(Prereq-Biol 3411 or Psy 3061 or #)

Animal cognitive abilities. Learning, perception, memory, navigation, and communication from evolutionary/comparative perspective. Cognitive abilities as adaptations that solve specific environmental problems. Empirical methods for assessing cognitive abilities. Emphasizes parsimonious interpretations of data. Controversial topics such as animal intelligence, animal language and whether non-human animals have a "theory of mind."



photo of Geoff GhoseNSc 8217 Systems and Computational Neuroscience (2 credits)
Instructor: Geoff Ghose
1:00-2:30 pm, Tuesdays
Jackson Hall 6-137

Description: Systems and Computational Neuroscience


NSc 8217 "Systems and Computational Neuroscience" (2 cr.) will be continuing
this spring semester. The course will be in journal club format, in which
participants present and discuss recent original research papers. The topic
this semester will be "Thalamocortical Attention Networks."

We are constantly using our experiences to anticipate important events and help filter out distractions. Because of the complexity and flexibility of such attentional allocation, most studies of the physiological mechanisms of attention have focused on cortical circuits. In the past few years, however, there has been increasing work demonstrating that subcortical sites, including the thalamus and pulvinar, play a vital role in attention. This class will discuss recent pharmacological, imaging, electrophysiological, and theoretical studies of how the rich and reciprocal pathways between thalamus and cortex contribute to attention.

Each meeting will focus on a single paper chosen by the presenter.

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 at least 2 papers each session. The
course meets
from 1:00-2:30 in Jackson 6-137 every Tuesday.

I will present the initial paper this Tuesday, January 21:

The pulvinar regulates information transmission between cortical areas based on attention demands
Saalmann, Yuri B and Pinsk, Mark A and Wang, Liang and Li, Xin and Kastner, Sabine
Selective attention mechanisms route behaviorally relevant information through large-scale cortical networks. Although evidence suggests that populations of cortical neurons synchronize their activity to preferentially transmit information about attentional priorities, it is unclear how cortical synchrony across a network is accomplished. Based on its anatomical connectivity with the cortex, we hypothesized that the pulvinar, a thalamic nucleus, regulates cortical synchrony. We mapped pulvino-cortical networks within the visual system, using diffusion tensor imaging, and simultaneously recorded spikes and field potentials from these interconnected network sites in monkeys performing a visuospatial attention task. The pulvinar synchronized activity between interconnected cortical areas according to attentional allocation, suggesting a critical role for the thalamus not only in attentional selection but more generally in regulating information transmission across the visual cortex.

This paper is available at:

The tentative reading list can be seen at:

This reading list should be considered at starting point. For example, it
includes literature reviews which are not appropriate for a detailed

The course calendar is at:

and can be subscribed to (iCal/Google Calendar)


Previous topics for the course (and the associated reading lists) can be
seen at:



photo of Paul SchraterPsy 8036/5993 Probabilistic Models of Visual Processing
Instructors: Dan Kersten and Paul Schrater
3:00 - 4:30 pm, Tuesdays
Elliott Hall S204

Description: Probabilistic Models of Visual Processing


This seminar will cover state-of-the-art computational models of human visual processing, incorporating evidence from primate neurophysiology, human neuroimaging, and psychophysics. We will learn how probabilistic modeling can provide a common framework linking computational theory to neural networks for a range of visual behaviors including: detection, perceptual integration, object learning and recognition, decision making, and adaptive dynamic behaviors. The class format will consist of a combination of short lectures to provide overviews of upcoming themes, followed by discussion of journal articles led by seminar participants.



photo of Paul SchraterPSY 8993 Introduction To Bayesian Data Analysis (3 credits)
(Directed Studies: Special Areas of Psychology and Related Sciences)
Instructor: Paul Schrater
One weekly meeting, 1.5 hours, time TBD

Description: Introduction To Bayesian Data Analysis


Interested in exploring non-frequentist statistical practices? Looking for a flexible method for comparing assumptions? Or do you just tend to do most of your thinking in probability distributions? If so, Bayesian Data Analysis may be for you. We will explore Bayesian data analysis and statistics utilizing BUGS in the R programming language. The class will meet once weekly for 1.5 hours at a time TBD. No specific requirements, but a basic familiarity with programming and knowledge of calculus will be greatly helpful. Weekly assignments from the book "Doing Bayesian Data Analysis: A Tutorial with R and BUGS" by John K. Kruschke. Appropriate for Graduate students of all levels and disciplines.

Probability Distributions
Multi-level Models
Analysis case studies
Bayesian Statistics
Gibbs Sampling
Markov Chain Monte Carlo Simulations

for questions please contact:
Paul Schrater



Updated <February 19, 2015