Spring 2018

Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience

Spring 2018
Subject Area: 
Course Number: 
PSYC 449 601
Tuesday 5:00pm-8:00pm


PSYC 109 or PSYC 149
Secondary Program: 
Master of Liberal Arts
Course Note: 
PSYC 449-601 is an LPS course. PSYC 449-301 & -302 are Psych Dept courses.
Course Description: 

The theme of this seminar course will center on the question of artificial intelligence and specifically whether it can be achieved with digital computational methods only or whether, like the brain, it will require a combination of both digital and analogue mechanisms.  The vital distinction between mere simulation and a mechanism that is capable of self-reflective knowing will be considered as defining the essential requirements for true machine intelligence, or consciousness.  The experiences of time, memory and self-reflective knowing,  or meta-awareness, are essential features of human consciousness. To gain a better understanding of self-reflective knowing, students will consider aspects of epistemology that define knowing as cognitive behavior, as well as insight as a spontaneous phenomenon that involves  unconscious information processing by the brain.   Evaluation of animal consciousness, and what is unique about human consciousness, will provide further insight into the requirements of true machine intelligence.  In this context, the evolution of the hominin brain and mind will be reviewed to understand the phylogenetic origin of human meta-awareness.  Finally, the possibilities for the future co-evolution of human and machine minds will be discussed.  Readings from the scientific literature will be assigned.  Students will also be expected to view assigned videographic and cinema features and segments that are relevant to topics considered.  Basic neuroscience and psychology courses, as well as PSYC 149, are prerequisites for this course.  Alternatively, permission of the instructor may be obtained.