PHIL/PSYCH 256 - Introduction to Cognitive Science

PHIL/PSYCH 256 - Introduction to Cognitive Science

Course information for PHIL/PSYCH, last taught Winter 2020.

PHIL/PSYCH 256: Introduction to Cognitive Science

Course outline

Instructor: Chris Eliasmith (email)

Office: E7 6324

Office Hours: Wed 3:00p-4:00p, or by appointment

TA: Jessica Oddan (email)

Office: HH 337

Office Hours: Wed 230p-3:30p, or by appointment

Class Times: Mon/Wed 1:00p-2:20p

Location: PAS 2083

Note: PHIL 256 and PSYCH 256 are interchangeable and count towards all plans in the same way


  1. Textbook: Mind - Introduction to Cognitive Science, 2nd Edition
  2. Course packet - Available from the bookstore

Important Dates:

  • Feb 12: Midterm
  • Apr 1: Final test
  • Mar 16: Finall essay topic picked
  • Apr 8: Final essay due

Please use the course email, for all course related correspondence.

Lecture Notes

The in-class lecture notes will be posted here before each class.

  • Topic 1: Introduction Special Guest Lecture: Paul Thagard
  • Topic 2: Computation and Representation
  • Topic 3: Logic
  • Topic 4: Rules
  • Topic 5: The Chinese Room
  • Topic 6: [Concepts]
  • Topic 7: [Imagery]
  • Topic 8: [Connectionism]
  • Topic 9: [Neuroscience Methods]
  • Topic 10: [The Mental as Mechanism]
  • Topic 11: [Critique of Connectionism]
  • Topic 12: [Dynamicism and Robotics]
  • Topic 13: [Emotions]
  • Topic 14: [Consciousness]
  • Topic 15: [Next Generation CS]
  • Topic 16: [Conclusion]


At the beginning of each lecture you are required to submit a ~100 word commentary on the claim, hypothesis, or issue that you found most interesting in the reading. Your commentary should identify the claim that interests you and the strongest evidence for and against it. The purpose of these commentaries is to ensure that everyone comes to class prepared for discussion. There is no penalty for missing 3. There will be approximately 20 over the term. Commentaries should be handed in on paper.


Possible questions for the midterm and final test will be posted here 1 week before the test. Instructions on the test will be something like "Six of the following ten questions will be on the midterm. You will have to answer five of them. Each will be worth 7% of your final grade. You will have 80 minutes to answer them in class" (details may change).

  • [Midterm]
  • [Final test]

Final Essay Information

You will write a final essay for this class. Topics and lots of additional information can be found on the Essay Information page.

More information