COGSCI 600, 2013, 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, Nancy Barrickman

1. Why should cognitive science be interested in non-human cognition?

2. What are the major similarities between human and primate cognition? What are the major differences?

3. Do non-human primates have goals, intentions, and understanding of other minds?

4. How smart are orangutans? What do their capabilities tell us about human intelligence?

5. How does culture contribute to intelligence?

Discussion questions for Week 3, Chris Eliasmith

  1. Why is it important for a model of the brain to explain behaviors?
  2. What tasks does the Spaun architecture model?
  3. What are the most important neural subsystems in Spaun?
  4. Is the Spaun architecture neurologically accurate?
  5. What are the most important behaviors that Spaun does not model?

Discussion questions for Week 4, Jesse Hoey

  1. Why are smart homes practically desirable?
  2. Why should smart homes be customizable?
  3. What technology does it take to make a home smart?
  4. How should developing smart homes take into account how minds work?
  5. What will be ordinary people's emotional reaction to living in a smart home?

Discussion questions for Week 5, Dana Kulic

  1. Why is learning rather than programming desirable for robots? Why is it hard to build robots?
  2. Can robots learn about human bodily motion the same way that humans do?
  3. How do motion primitives help with learning? Do humans use primitives?
  4. How are graphs useful for representing motion?
  5. How can representation of motions be useful for planning actions?

Discussion questions for Week 6, Matt van der Meer

  1. What makes memory constructive rather than reproductive?
  2. How is remembering the past like imaging the future?
  3. What can neuroimaging tell us about truth and false recognition?
  4. What can diseased minds tell us about normal minds?
  5. Are rats capable of imagining the future?

Discussion questions for Week 7, Sarah Tolmie

For week 7 (Feb. 26), Sarah Tolmie would like you to answer the questions at

Please answer these questions online and copy and paste your answers into the class discussion.

Discussion questions for Week 8, Jonathan Fugelsang

  1. What are some practical examples of the illusion of truth?
  2. What are the cognitive effects of familiarity?
  3. How can memory contribute to the illusion of truth? What are the mechanisms?
  4. How might the illusion of truth be avoided?

Discussion questions for Week 9, Tobias Schröder

  1. What is innovation diffusion and why is it worth modeling?
  2. What are agent-based models and how are they appropriate for innovation diffusion?
  3. What are the limits of differential-equation models of diffusion?
  4. What are the cognitive processes in innovation diffusion?
  5. What are the social processes in innovation diffusion?

Discussion questions for Week 10, Randy Harris

  1. Is the use of rhetoric compatible or incompatible with the development of knowledge?
  2. How do scientists use rhetoric? Should they?
  3. Why is antimetabole mentally appealing?
  4. How does communication foster and hinder the acquisition of truths?

Discussion questions for Week 11, John Turri

  1. Why do experimental philosophers do experiments? Should they?
  2. How relevant is how people think they think to how they actually think?
  3. How does desirability affect the attribution of knowledge?
  4. Should our understanding of knowledge be sensitive to evaluative facts?
  5. From a neuropsychological perspective, why does desirability affect knowledge?

RNRG photos of Cogsci 600 class.



Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated March 18, 2013