University Relations

photo of Apostolos GeorgopoulosDirector
Apostolos Georgopoulos, MD, PhD
Regents Professor,

photo of Jeanette GundelAssociate Director
Jeanette Gundel, PhD
Professor, Linguistics

Research Assistant Professor
Trenton Jerde, PhD Cognitive Science


Steiner & Redish in Nature Neuroscience

Neuroscience graduate student Adam Steiner and CCS member Dr. A. David Redish recently published their article entitled, "Behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of regret in rat decision-making on a neuroeconomic task" online in Nature Neuroscience.

Disappointment entails the recognition that one did not get the value expected. In contrast, regret entails recognition that an alternative (counterfactual) action would have produced a more valued outcome. In humans, the orbitofrontal cortex is active during expressions of regret, and humans with damage to the orbitofrontal cortex do not express regret. In rats and nonhuman primates, both the orbitofrontal cortex and the ventral striatum have been implicated in reward computations. We recorded neural ensembles from orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum in rats encountering wait or skip choices for delayed delivery of different flavors using an economic framework. Economically, encountering a high-cost choice after skipping a low-cost choice should induce regret. In these situations, rats looked backwards toward the lost option, cells within orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum represented the missed action, rats were more likely to wait for the long delay, and rats rushed through eating the food after that delay.


The team explained their findings in interviews with international news agencies:


Fall 2014 Course Announcements

Jürgen KonczakCPMS 5101 Introduction to Clinical Physiology and Movement Science
Jürgen Konczak
Mondays 1:25 - 3:55 pm
Location TBA , 3 credits

Course Description

This 3-credit course is designed to give students an overview into the fields of clinical physiology and clinical movement science. It provides a basic understanding of clinical issues related to human motor function and physiological parameters of human performance. It presents the newest research methods to study human movement and physiological function and explains how these methods produce clinically relevant research findings. The course is designed to contrast normal development of human function throughout the lifespan and outlines relevant clinical issues of each life phase, such as childhood obesity or rehabilitation after stroke.

Faculty from Kinesiology, Mechanical Engineering, Neurology, Nursing, Otolaryngology, Physical Therapy, and Public Health will provide the latest insights into the following topics:

  • Research methodology in clinical movement science
  • Research methodology in clinical physiology
  • Typical sensorimotor development in childhood
  • Motor problems in pediatric populations
  • Pediatric clinical physiology
  • Aging of the skeletal-muscle system
  • Aging of heart, lung and vascular function
  • Aging of the motor system
  • Pediatric treatment of childhood obesity
  • Robotic rehabilitation
  • Neurological rehabilitation after stroke



Paul JohnsonIDSC 8711 Cognitive Science
Paul E. Johnson
Fridays 1 - 5 pm
Carlson School of Management 1-136, 4 credits

Course Description



Prerequisite: Business administration PhD student or instructor consent

We increasingly perform tasks using knowledge that we individually do not possess. Decisions and the solution to problems are as likely to arise from the interaction among people (and among people and artifacts), as they are to result from the capacity of a single individual. The use of various physical, social and intellectual resources to perform tasks has given us many benefits. It has also given us the ability to act without reflection (the philosopher A. N. Whitehead observed that civilization advances by extending the number of things we can do without thinking about them). An interesting consequence of reliance on the knowledge and thinking of others is that our mental models often become divorced from reality. When this happens individuals as well as organizations sometimes act counter to their best interests. Such actions reflect characteristics of the human mind and how it is (and is not) adapted to the demands of modern twentieth century life and work. In this course we examine research and theory on the nature of the mind and how it functions in the modern world.

Drawing on work in psychology, anthropology, philosophy and computer science we develop a framework for understanding the behavior of cognitive agents in various settings of work and daily life. We will be particularly interested in the role of consciousness (including intentionality and narrative thinking), the nature of representation (including the idea of self organizing systems) and the limits of cognitive capacity (e.g., bounded rationality) as explanations for behavior. Data from the study of research problems in the field settings (health care, manufacturing, financial markets) as well as the laboratory will be critiqued and evaluated. Alternative methodologies for investigating behavior will be explored.

Upon completion of the course students should be able to provide an informed critique of research as well as undertake the formulation of a research problem of modest scope using cognitive science theory and methodology. The course format will be lecture and discussion based on assigned readings from the research literature. Course requirements include a weekly synopsis of one assigned reading and a take-home final exam.




Pani KendeouEPSY 8114-003 Seminar - Cognition and Learning
Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou
Mondays 2:30 – 5:10 pm
Education Sciences, 3 credits

Conceptual Change: Research and Practice

Learning often involves the revision of prior knowledge at the level of systems, at the level of individual concepts, and of course at the level of individual beliefs. This type of learning is known as conceptual change. In this seminar, we will focus on the discussion of current research in the area of conceptual change learning with the aim to advance our understanding of the underlying cognitive processes involved in knowledge revision and their implications for pedagogy and assessment. Main topics include current theories of conceptual change learning, processes and mechanisms of change, conceptual change in different domains (e.g., science, math, physics), influences of learner characteristics (e.g., prior knowledge, epistemological beliefs, motivation, engagement), instructional approaches for conceptual change, and challenges in conceptual change research.

Graduate students are invited to register for the course, regardless of disciplinary background. For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou ( .



EPSY 8114: Seminar: Advanced Cognitive Psychology
Sashank Varma
Tuesdays 2:30 - 5:15 pm
Location TBA, 3 credits

Course Description

This course is an introduction to theories and behavioral data of cognitive psychology of greatest relevance to education. It is “advanced” in three senses. First, it emphasizes data, theories, and models. Second, it focuses on higher-level cognition. Third, it combines a conventional textbook with papers from the research literature. The topics covered will include: the cognitive revolution, working memory, executive function and cognitive control, long-term memory, learning and transfer, problem solving, expertise, word and sentence comprehension, discourse comprehension, mathematical thinking, reasoning, and cognitive architecture.

Graduate students interested in cognitive psychology are invited to register for the course, regardless of disciplinary background.

For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Sashank Varma (



Francis ShenLAW 6063 Law and Neuroscience
Francis Shen
Tuesdays 10:10 am - 12:10 pm
Mondale Hall N209, 2/3 credits

Course Description

What are adolescents, psychopaths and white-collar fraud artists thinking? Why does emotional trauma for victims of abuse last so long? Whey is eye-witness memory so poor? Do violent video games lead to violent children? How can you get into the heads of the judge and jury? Lawyer and courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, are already integrating neuroscience research into their arguments and opinions on questions such as these. This class will introduce the exciting new field of "neurolaw" by covering issues such as neuroscience of criminal culpability, brain-based lie detection, cognitive enhancement, emotions, decision making, and much more. Along the way we'll discuss how the legal system can and should respond to new insights on topics as adolescent brain development, addiction, psychopathy, Alzheimer's, effects of combat on soldiers' brains, and concussions from sports injuries. (Note that all scientific material in class will be presented in an accessible manner, so no previous science background is required.)



Jürgen KonczakKIN 8135 Seminar: Motor Control and Learning
Jürgen Konczak
Wednesdays 2:30 - 5:00 pm
Location TBA , 3 credits

Course Description

As humans we routinely have to leam new movements during our life time. Some highly complex movements, like playing a piano, become so engrained that we do not forget them even in advanced age. In contrast, after brain injury one may have to relearn even the simplest motor patterns such a standing and walking. This seminar will provide an overview on human sensorimotor learning. We will examine different aspects of motor learning such as skill learning, the learning of motor sequences or the ability to adapt movements to changes in the environment. The course highlights the neurobiology of motor learning and will present current models of motor representations and how they are formed during learning . In addition, we will explore how motor learning can fail with brain dysfunction and discuss the implications of movement disorders research on our understanding of human motor learning.



Yuhong V JiangWilma KoutstaalPSY 8042 Proseminar in Cognition, Brain, & Behavior
Yuhong Jiang and Wilma Koutstaal
Mondays 12:30 - 3:00 pm
Elliott Hall N668, 3 credits

Course Description
This course will introduce students to advanced topics in cognition, brain, and behavior. It will combine lecture, discussion, and student-led presentations of research papers on core topics of attention, memory, thinking, language, social cognition, individual differences, consciousness, and intersections between these areas. The course is taught with additional invited faculty lectures. The class is designed for graduate students relatively early in their career.



Sakellaridi defends 6/18

Sofia Sakellaridi

On Wednesday, June 18 2014, Sofia Sakellaridi successfully defended her PhD thesis, "Behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying exploration and spatial decision." Ms. Sakellaridi is an academic staff member at BSC and a graduate student in the University of Minnesota Graduate Program in Cognitive Science studying spatial cognition and decision-making

Behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying exploration and spatial decision. (abstract)

The ability to explore novel environments and make decisions is a fundamental component of human and animal behavior. Even though significant progress has been made in recent years in understanding the mechanisms of exploration and decision-making, little is known on how the brain extracts, encodes and processes information from the environment to make decisions. The primary goal of this thesis is to understand the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying the processing of spatial information, acquired during exploration of realistic environments to make spatial decisions. We designed a novel task, in which subjects had to explore maps from various U.S. cities to decide where to build a City Hall, while neuromagnetic fluxes were recorded from their heads using a whole-head MEG device. We found that ongoing neuronal activity in a network of cortical regions was associated with particular spatial parameters of the city maps. This network involved predominantly right frontal and prefrontal areas of the brain, suggesting that these areas have an important role in processing spatial information for making decisions. Additionally, we found other brain areas also involved in the processing of spatial information, such as right temporal areas and cerebellum. These results indicate that processing spatial information for making a decision is a complex process that requires the involvement of more than one region. Finally, we found that the associations between changes in the ongoing neural activity and spatial parameters were modulated by the type of the map. This suggests that, depending on the type of the map, people may use different spatial information to explore the map and make a spatial decision.

We also studied how people make spatial decisions in realistic environments when they were forced to select between a limited set of choices. In this experiment, individuals had to explore maps from various U.S. cities, but now to select between two locations to build a hypothetical Post Office. We recorded subjects' eye positions and analyzed the gaze behavior to characterize how people explored maps to select between these options. We found that subjects were continuously exploring the areas around the two options and the center of the map, by looking back and forth between them before making a decision. Unlike economic choices, in which people follow similar strategies by looking repeatedly at the available options, in our experiment individuals were also exploring the area around the center of the map. These finding suggest that subjects might have mentally placed themselves at the center of the map and evaluated the alternative options with respect to their current location. We also found other similarities with economic choice paradigms, such as people spent more time exploring the area around the option ultimately chosen. Finally, subjects showed a strong bias to select the option they initially explored.


CCS Grad Students Win Major Award

from synthesist, the Graduate School e-newsletter:

A group of CCS Predoctoral members submitted one of the five winning ideas in the Graduate School's 2013-2014 Call for Innovative Ideas competition. The winning entry "Emerging Technologies Workshop" is the work of:

Their proposal is for an annual one-day workshop that brings specialized or emerging technologies and other methodologies into the hands of university members. As students whose research lies at the intersections of disciplines such as Psychology, Human Development, Neuroscience, Biology, Medicine, Statistics, and Linguistics (to name a few), the Center for Cognitive Sciences graduate student team proposes to address a common student need for intensive workshops focused on the specialized methodologies they frequently encounter in scholarly publications and presentations, but to which they may not have direct access.

Each of the winning groups will receive a modest award from the Graduate School to help launch the projects.

Updated June 27, 2014