Research in Cognitive Science
Cognitive Science is the multidisciplinary study of models of thinking. In order to address and answer core questions regarding the human mind as well as non-human minds such as those of animals and robots, it connects research from e.g. psychology, philosophy, linguistics, computer science, neuroscience, pedagogy, biology, and anthropology.
How are experiences represented in the brain? Do we think in “words” or “images”? How is abstract knowledge represented? How can language represent the external reality? Does culture influence the way we think?
How is all this connected to the learning and memory processes? What happens when we learn a language? How do we form new concepts? How does the brain store what we learn, and how can we develop memories? What biological functions do cognitive processes consist of?
To what extent can human cognitive processes be reproduced by artificial means, e.g. in computers or robots: Are neurons required for thinking? Can we create “sensible” machines? Is it possible to build a robot that can independently solve practical problems? Is it possible that a machine can have a consciousness or free will? Are computers required to “understand” language in order to do flawless translations?
The models in Cognitive Science often associate material from closeby fields. The subject is connected to cognitive psychology through the study of perception, learning, memory, motivation, etc. Together with linguists, it is used to understand the mechanisms governing linguistic communication. It is closely related to philosophy – which study the proverbial questions about what knowledge is – and has contributed to theories of consciousness. And of course biology is another related fied, from where knowledge about the evolution of the brain; and the understanding of animal cognition, is drawn. Cognitive science strives to connect philosophical theories to empirical knowledge.
Theory and empiricism is interrelated in order to develop new technologies that humans – as information thirsty beings – can use and benefit from. The progress in the study of neuroscience makes it possible to study the cognitive function of the neuro-physiological roots – and also, create models that can simulate animal and human abilities to think, plan and solve problems by using computers. Thus, Cognitive Science is also closely linked to computer science, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.