Cognitive science is the scientific study of cognitive phenomena such as reasoning, decision making, memory, learning, language, perception, and action. This young and emerging interdisciplinary field lies at the intersection of psychology, computer science, and philosophy, and has further important links to neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, mathematics, biology, and education.
Cognitive Science tries to understand one of the most complex and fascinating entities in the known universe — the human mind. Cognitive science also tries to understand other kinds of minds, whether they be animal minds, alien minds, or artificial minds. Thus, Cognitive Science promises to be the next ‘basic’ science, in line with physics, chemistry, and biology, as much of the research being conducted is aimed at discovering fundamental principles that underlie minds in general.
Just as the technologies based on physics, chemistry, and biology have had a tremendous impact on our lives, technology based on our understanding of cognitive systems has the potential to profoundly change the way we live and who we are. From using knowledge of human cognition to build ‘cognitively ergonomic’ tools and environments, to building devices to repair and augment cognitive skills and capacities, to creating artifically intelligent computers and robots, the applications of this discipline are right in line with Rensselaer’s slogan: “Why not change the world?”.
The Cognitive Science Department at Rensselaer is perfectly positioned to offer one of the very best degree programs of its kind in the world. While many cognitive science programs in the country have a definite focus on one of the contributing disciplines – whether this be psychology, computer science, philosophy, neuroscience, or linguistics – the cognitive science program at Rensselaer is truly interdisciplinary in that it carefully balances all of the important contributing fields. Moreover, students have ample opportunity to perform undergraduate research in any of the associated laboratories and research groups.