COGSCI 600, 2007, Discussion questions
Note: Do not attempt to answer all these questions. Rather, write a 1-page
reflection on the readings for this week based on 1 or more of the questions,
or reactions of your own. Your reflections could describe questions concerning
aspects of the readings that you do not understand.
Discussion questions for Week 2: David Spafford
1. What are the goals of neural science?
2. What is the difference between reductionist and holistic approaches?
3. How can reductionism and holism be combined?
4. What is the ionic hypothesis? How is it relevant to explaining human thinking?
5. What are the two major modes of synaptic transmission? How is the brain different
from digital computers?
Discussion questions for Week 3: Randy Harris
- How is psychology releveant to understanding poetry and other kinds of
- What is the relation between the psychology of the hero and the psychology
of the audience?
- How does literature maintain interest?
- How are brain science and rhetoric mutually relevant?
- What are the impediments to interactions of rhetoric and cognitive science?
Discussion questions for Week 4: Kate Larson
- What is an argument?
- Why is game theory relevant to argumentation?
- What is the desired outcome of an argument?
- How plausible is the analogy between argumentation and welfare economics?
- What social outcomes should be the results of interactive argumentation?
Discussion questions for Week 5: Scott Jeffrey
- What is unrealistic optimism?
- Why are people often overconfident and overoptimistic?
- Could inventors succeed if they were realistic?
- What kinds of reasoning should inventors and entrepreneurs use to evaluate
- By what psychological mechanisms do sunk costs affect human thinking?
Discussion questions for Week 6: Paul Thagard
1. What is a mental illness?
2. Are mental illnesses real?
3. How can theoretical neuroscience help us to explain and treat mental illness?
4. How should mental illnesses be classified?
5. Can science help to answer philosophical questions about the nature of knowledge,
reality, morality, and meaning?
Discussion questions for Week 7: Britt Anderson
1. What problems does the brain have to solve to perceive objects and control
2. What is Bayesian decision theory?
3. How plausible is it that the brain uses Bayesian inference in perception and
4. Are perception and motor control probabilistically optimal? How could we tell?
5. Does evolution by natural selection produce optimal mechanisms?
Discussion questions for Week 8: Chris Eliasmith
1. What is gained by approaching the study of brain function computationally?
2. How do single neurons contribute to brain computation?
3. What is the role of models in cognitive neuroscience?
4. Is the brain really a computer? Are there non-computational brain functions?
5. What is the relation between cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology?
Discussion questions for Week 9: Chrysanne DiMarco
1. How are techniques from natural language processing useful for bioinformatics?
2. How do lexical chains help to identify protein interactions?
3. What other information-gathering tasks might be aided by similar techniques?
4. What are the limitations of lexical chaining for biomedical information
Discussion questions for Week 10: Amer Obeidi
1. How are emotion and perception relevant to understanding conflicts?
2. How is a graph model useful for analyzing conflict?
3. Could a graph model help with international conflicts?
4. How would an emotion graph be relevant to understanding conflicts in close
5. How could conflict resolution and group negotiation be made more creative?
Discussion questions for Week 11: Paul Thagard
1. What is creativity?
2. Can machines be creative?
3. Can people learn to be more creative?
4. Where do new ideas come from?
5. What are the social factors that influence creativity?
6. How can brains be creative?
This page updated Mar. 13, 2009