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Annotated Reference List

Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science References

Bransford, J.D.; A. L. Brown; & R.R. Cocking: editors (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. [Online]. Accessed 4/4/02: http://books.nap.edu/catalog/6160.html.

An excellent overview of cognitive science applications to education. Note that the entire text of this excellent book is available online.

Bereiter, Carl (April 2002). Education and Mind in the Knowledge Age [Online]. Accessed 4/4/02: http://www.emtech.net/links/construc.htm . At this Website, look under "Opposition to the Theory. As of 4/4/02, the second link is to the Bereiter book. This is a new book scheduled to be published in April, 2002. Quoting from the Preface:

Here we are in the information age, relying on a theory of mind that is probably older than the wheel. Every other folk theory—folk physics, folk biology, folk economics— has had to yield to more powerful theories, better equipped to address the problems of an adventurous civilization.

According to one story, this has also happened with theory of mind. Something called 'cognitive science' arose in the 1950s and developed rapidly. Its most conspicuous manifestations have been in artificial intelligence and robotics, but it has had a significant and sometimes revolutionary effect on all the behavioral sciences. Although it may be true that most of the world's business is still conducted according to folk theories of mind, this may be only a matter of cultural lag, which will be overcome as cognitive science takes hold.

The trouble with this story is that for most purposes the effect of cognitive science has not been to replace folk theory but to reinstate it, after its exile by behaviorism. I do not mean to discount the accomplishments of cognitive scientists in expert systems, language comprehension, and the like. But the cognitive science that produced these accomplishments has been rooted in the same basic conception of the mind that has been with us at least since Plato's time, and that children in the Western world pick up spontaneously by the age of six. It is this folk conception, along with its formalizations in cognitive theories, that has recently started to be challenged. What is being challenged is the basic conception of the mind as a container of objects—beliefs, desires, conjectures, remembered events, and the like—which the mind works on in cognition. The challenges have been on various theoretical grounds. The plausibility, coherence, and explanatory adequacy of folk theory and its derivatives have been called into question.

Critics typically concede that in practical applications folk theory does just fine. For most uses, that is true and for good reason. Our social institutions all embody the folk theory. We could hardly make it through a day—indeed, could hardly make it across a busy street—without decisions based on beliefs and intentions that we attribute to others. Folk theories of all kinds characteristically work well for everyday purposes, however. Medieval physics lives on in the baseball park, where fly balls have "legs" that may or may not be sufficient to carry them over the outfield wall. Expert gardeners get along believing they are providing food to the plants. But if the task is launching a missile into orbit rather than over the left-field fence or doubling the yield of rice paddies, folk theories are not up to the task. Folk theory of mind lives on, I believe, because it has never been put to severe tests.

Bruer, John T. (1993). Schools for thought: A science of teaching and learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

An excellent introduction to educational applications of Cognitive Science.

Corno, Lyn and Winne, Philip H (Editors). Educational Psychologist Volume 36, Number 4, Fall 2001. Special Issue: Teaching for Wisdom.

This entire issue centers around an article by Robert Sternberg. In this article he attempts to define the term "wisdom" and proposes that schools should include a goal of helping students to gain increased wisdom. When this article was sent out for review, it provoked a lot of response from the reviewers. Several reviewers were asked to write articles in response to Sternberg's article. Sternberg then wrote an article in response to the responses.

Dana Foundation [Online]. Accessed 3/9/01: http://www.dana.org. Quoting from the Website:

At this site you will find information about the programs, activities, and publications of the Dana Foundation and the Dana Alliance, as well the latest news about the brain.

Dana.org serves as a gateway to brain information. Visit the Brain Information and Brain Web section to access general information about the brain and current brain research, and to link to validated sites related to more than 23 brain disorders. "Brainy Kids Online" offers children, parents and teachers a site with activities for younger children, puzzles, links to excellent educational resources, and lesson plan suggestions.

Halpern, Diane F. Applying the Science of Learning: Using the Principles of Cognitive Psychology to Enhance Teaching and Learning. Accessed 11/9/02: http://www.house.gov/science/research/may10/halpern.htm.

Diane Halpern's area of specialization is critical thinking. In her article Why Wisdom? Educational Psychologist. 36(4), 253-256 she notes that a definition of critical thinking she has often used is:
The term critical thinking is the use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increases the probability of a desirable outcome. It is purposeful, reasoned, and goal directed. It is the kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihood, and making decisions. Critical thinkers use these skills appropriately, without prompting, and usually with conscious intent, in a variety of settings. That is, they are predisposed to think critically. When we think critically, we are evaluating the outcomes of our thought processes--how good a decision is or how well a problem is solved. Critical thinking also involves evaluating the thinking processes--the reasoning that went into the conclusion we have arrived at or the kinds of factors considered in making a decision.

In Applying the Science of Learning Halpern presents a suscinct introduction to some of the key findings and problems in Cognitive Psychology. This is an excellent introduction for educators. The following is quoted from the Website:

What and how much gets learned in any situation depends heavily on prior knowledge and experience. Psychologists use the term "construction of knowledge" because each learner builds meaning using what is already known. For example, in an explanation of this principle in "How People Learn," we are told about a fish who learns about the dry world from a bird. When the bird describes beings who can walk upright and breathe air, the fish imagines fish-looking people walking on their tails, with both gills surrounded with water and lungs filled with air. The comprehension process is similar to that used when children learn that the world is round; they replace their pancake-shaped view of the earth with a ball that has been cut in half, so that we can walk on the flat cut surface without falling off. In other words, the best predictor of what is learned from at the completion of a lesson, course, or program of study is what the learner thinks and knows at the start of the lesson, course, or program of study.

The sole reason why we have schools and universities, that is formal settings designed for learning activities is that we expect that learning will transfer. Information learned in one context can transfer to a different context, but we need to teach in ways that encourage transfer. Because of my interest in and commitment to helping students improve their ability to think critically, this is one topic about which I have very strong feelings. The purpose of formal education is transfer. We teach students how to write and think well in the belief that they will use these skills when they are not in school. The truth is sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.

Harvard Undergraduate Society for Neuroscience [Online]. Accessed 11/9/02: http://hcs.harvard.edu. Quoting from the Website:

The Harvard Computer Society is an undergraduate student group dedicated to promoting, improving, and developing interest in computing and information technologies among members of the Harvard community.

Institute for Human and Machine Cognition [Online]. Accessed 6/13/01: http://www.coginst.uwf.edu/. Quoting from the Website:

The Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) was founded at The University of West Florida by the Florida legislature in 1990 as an interdisciplinary research unit.

Current research areas include: computational and philosophical foundations of AI, haptic displays to mitigate spatial disorientation, non-alphanumeric pilot displays, computer-mediated communication and collaboration, cognitive science, computer mediated learning systems, performance support systems, pedagogically-motivated browsers, knowledge discovery and data mining, neural networks, software agent mobility and security, spatial and temporal reasoning, diagnostic systems, the nature and modeling of expertise, situated cognition, pattern recognition, and other related areas.

Neurosciences on the Internet [Online]. Accessed 3/9/01: http://www.neuroguide.com/. Quoting from the Website:

A searchable and browsable index of neuroscience resources available on the Internet: Neurobiology, neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, psychology, cognitive science sites and information on human neurological diseases.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [Online]. Accessed 3/9/01: http://www.cogsci.uiuc.edu/. Quoting from the Website:

Cognitive science is the study of intelligent systems, both natural and artificial. Over the past thirty years, the study of cognition has developed into an interdisciplinary science by combining approaches primarily from computer science, linguistics, and psychology. The field also has strong links to the neurosciences, philosophy, anthropology, education and, recently, to the physical and engineering sciences dealing with complex dynamical systems. Although there is considerable diversity of method among researchers in cognitive science, they share the belief that intelligent activity can be described in a formal and systematic fashion. In fact, most cognitive scientists assume a more specific hypothesis--that intelligent activity can be modeled by formal systems (programs) running on a computer or a brain. This hypothesis, sometimes called the "computational theory of the mind," is considered by many to be one of the most exciting intellectual ideas to emerge in the twentieth century.

Quoting from the Research Programs component of the Website:

Learning and Conceptual Organization

Perhaps the main issue in cognitive science is how people acquire and represent knowledge. Thus, learning is of considerable interest to cognitive scientists in general, and it is a major part of the the research program at Illinois. The faculty in the learning group generally assume that learning cannot be understood separately from the structure of the knowledge represented in the system. By the same token, the study of learning in a domain may provide crucial information about the domain's ultimate organization. The contention is that conceptual organization and learning form a system of mutual constraints and that it will be most productive to study the two together. A major issue in learning in both machines and humans is the distinction between similarity-based learning, which emphasizes bottom-up, data-driven processing, and explanation-based learning, which emphasizes top-down, knowledge-driven processing. Researchers at Illinois have represented both sides of this issue. However, there is now a remarkable convergence of opinion, in which researchers with each perspective are working toward the middle, in order to integrate these two approaches. For example, one issue under investigation is that of how to develop feature descriptions that will be useful in encoding information about a new domain. Another important question is how knowledge of a domain interacts with evidence from examples during the initial learning of a concept. Other researchers are studying the acquisition of skills or expertise in complex domains, and still others, the important question of how memory is structured by theories or knowledge.

Computational Linguistics

The computational linguistics group carries out a wide range of research focused on bringing linguistic theory to bear on the development of computational models of language generation and comprehension. The ultimate goals of this work are those of both the computer scientist and the theoretical linguist: the development and refinement of computationally relevant linguistic theory, and the design and analysis of linguistically based computational systems that process realistic language input. Explicit models of language processing can inform and guide linguistic theory, and they can provide linguists with important tools for theory testing. Researchers in this group share an interest in the interaction among the various components of language processing, frequently collaborating in the design of interactive architectures. Major research projects in computational linguistics include the development of feature-structure grammars and algorithms for use in both generation and recognition, and a project on speech recognition and production that incorporates insights from phonology. Other work is devoted to modeling speech act planning, the selection of referring expressions, and plan recognition, and to developing a logical formalism for modeling discourse interpretation in natural language. Other research projects focus on the design of morphological parsers that make use of feature structures, the creation of a grammar development environment, and the utilization of text searching technology. This research is conducted in the Laboratory for Computational Linguistics at the Beckman Institute, equipped with a network of high speed work stations.

 

Psycholinguistics

Research in psycholinguistics builds toward a general theory of linguistic performance. By combining the efforts of psychologists and linguists, this field has addressed questions pertaining to language comprehension, acquisition, and production. Illinois has one of the largest groups of psycholinguists in North America which, when combined with the group of computational, theoretical, and applied linguists, makes Illinois a major center for the study of language from a cognitive science perspective. One important project at Illinois concerns language production, a research area within psycholinguistics that is universally acknowledged to be important and yet is rarely studied. The project combines experimental studies of syntactic and phonological aspects of production, connectionist or neural network modeling, and analyses of speech errors in both normal and aphasic speakers. The goal is to develop and test a theory of how speakers make choices about sentence structure and lexical items. Of particular interest is the question of the modularity of the syntactic, semantic, and phonological knowledge systems. A second major project concerns eye-movement and event-related potential measures of sentence and discourse comprehension. Both methods allow for unobtrusive and on-line detection of events that occur as subjects read sentences and thus can arbitrate among competing theories of parsing. Other researchers study a wide variety of issues in psycholinguistics ranging from word perception to discourse comprehension. The University's Center for the Study of Reading is a valuable asset to much of this work.

 

Cognitive Neuroscience

Research in cognitive neuroscience has the goal of specifying the functional architecture (i.e., the component process and systems) of cognition and the way in which it is mapped onto the neural architecture of the brain. At Illinois, researchers have a particular focus on human cognitive neuroscience, with the goal of developing a more complete understanding of how human information processing and human cognitive abilities are implemented in the human brain. The methods or approaches employed by researchers at Illinois include neuropsychological investigations of normal, brain-damaged, and psychiatrically-diagnosed individuals, structural and functional brain imaging, event-related potentials (ERPs), eye movement monitoring, and computational modeling -- a set of tools that permit analysis of the componential organization of cognitive systems and permit neuroanatomical mapping. The faculty's research is organized around understanding the neural underpinnings of four major components of human information processing: attention, memory, language, and cognitive aspects of normal and abnormal emotion. Aspects of attention being studied include how the temporal and spatial context within which information is included affects response selection, hemispheric differences in attentional processing, mechanisms of selective visual attention, and automaticity and skill acquisition. Aspects of memory being addressed include delineating the components or modules of memory processing, the nature of representations and the degree to which they can be modeled in distributed systems, and the availability of stored information via different avenues of access. Aspects of language processing being studied from a neuropsychological perspective include how the effect of early language experience and exposure to multiple languages on the organization of language in the brain, and how the patterns of language disturbances after brain damage can inform models of normal language processing Finally, aspects of the interface between emotion and cognition being examined include a delineation of the brain regions involved in the extent to which individuals rely on non-linguistic, emotional information in the extraction of meaning from language, the allocation of cognitive resources in emotional processing tasks, and the influence of cognitive competence and brain organization on social/emotional function.

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