Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary field devoted to the study of the mind, the brain, and computing technology. Hampshire’s diverse program serves students with interests in many areas, including psychology, philosophy, linguistics, biology, animal behavior, computer science, education, child development, learning, digital multimedia, and the social effects of new information technology.
Many different types of concentrations and projects can be organized in whole or in part around the study of the remarkable capacities of the mind and brain or around the potential of computers and digital technologies. Hampshire’s cognitive science faculty holds expertise in three broad areas of concentration: mind and brain, knowledge and language, and computing technology.
Sample First-Year Course
Telling Our Stories: Development and Functions of Autobiographical Memory
Autobiographical memories of personal past experiences create our life stories. Our memories range from the mundane to the momentous. In this course we will explore the functions of autobiographical memory as well as its development. Why do we share stories of our pasts? How do we interpret past events to inform the development of our self identity? How do social experiences contribute to the development of memory? What are the basic cognitive processes that contribute to our ability to remember and report the past? In addition to examining these questions, we will also explore the role of culture on the functions, socialization, and expression of autobiographical memories. Students will read primary literature, write a series of short papers, present summaries of articles, and complete a group research project related to the material for the course.
Sample Courses at Hampshire
Aliens: Close Encounters of a Multidisciplinary Kind
Culture, Mind & Brain
Cultural Norms & Theories of Human Development
Exploring the Unconscious Mind
How People Learn
Inquiries into the Mind
Intro to Cognitive Neuroscience
Language & the Mind
Minds, Brains & Machines: The 50 Key Ideas
The Neuroscience of Personality
Research Lab in Animal Communication & Robotics
Sex on the Brain: Gender, Sex & Biology
Storytelling, Mind & Culture
Telling Our Stories: Development & Functions of Autobiographical Memory
Understanding Autobiographical Memory
What Computers Can’t Do
Through the Consortium
Artificial Intelligence (AC)
Cognition & Instructional Design (SC)
Cognitive Neuroscience (SC)
Feminism & Knowledge (MHC)
Science & Gender (AC)
Seminar in Foundations of Behavior: Adventures in Space Perception (SC)
Facilities and Resources
Hampshire has an Event Related Potential (ERP) lab, where the researcher can present a subject with a stimulus and simultaneously record the subject’s brainwave activity. In this way, the researcher can glean information about the timecourse, and to a lesser degree the location, of brain activity correlated with sensory perceptual and cognitive stimulus processing. Facilities used to conduct ERP research are relatively rare among undergraduate institutions, but at Hampshire the ERP lab is in frequent use by advanced-level students who design their own original experiments with funding from the Culture, Brain, and Development program.
The program in Culture, Brain, and Development (CBD) at Hampshire College explores the frontiers of culture, psychology, neuroscience, and biology. Funded by the Foundation for Psychocultural Research, the goal of CBD is to foster innovative learning and research into questions about the relationships among culture, environment, biology, and brain/mind that reach across traditional disciplinary boundaries. The program sponsors events such as public lectures, seminars, and a distinguished lecture series. It offers stipends for students to encourage upper-level work at the intersection of culture, brain, and development, and has supported faculty in designing multi-disciplinary courses on these issues.
Students interested in cognitive development and the psychology of children may be drawn to Hampshire’s Critical Studies in Childhood, Youth, and Learning (CYL) Program. CYL works with the Hampshire College Children’s Center and schools and organizations in the surrounding community to provide opportunities for critical thinking and observation about child development and education in a broader real-world context. The Child Development Research Laboratory in Adele Simmons Hall can be used for a variety of studies designed to examine children’s behavior and social interactions.