Cognitive Science (PSYC 5370-101) 

Fall 2010

Professor: Roberto R. Heredia., Ph.D. 


Office: CH 205B


Class Time & Place: M 4:30 - 7:00 PM Fine/Performing Arts Center 129

Phone: (956) 326-2637

Office Hours:  MTW 10-12  & By Appointment

Course Description:
Cognitive Science familiarizes the student with the basic principles from laboratory research in conditioning, learning, and cognitive processes. Introduces the principles and applications of learning, behavior modification, animal cognition, and human information processing. Prerequisite: Graduate standing, or permission of the instructor.

Course Objectives: After completing this course, the student should,
1. demonstrate basic level knowledge in the experimental and scientific study of Cognitive Science).
2. demonstrate basic understanding of the different types of memory systems (Semantic, Episodic, & Procedural) of the human mind.
3. demonstrate basic understanding of the human information system as it relates to language, the visual system and the decision making process.
4. develop experimental and analytical skills, and the ability to critically  integrate research findings logically and concisely into a sound argument.

Required Texts:
Friedenberg, J. & Silverman, G. (2006).Cognitive Science: An Introduction to the student of mind. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Sternberg, R., & Wagner, R. K. (1999). Readings in Cognitive Psychology. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace.

Note: Additional readings will be determined as the semester progresses.    

Policies of the College of Arts and Sciences:

Classroom Behavior:
The College of Arts and Sciences  Sciences encourages classroom discussion and academic debate as an essential intellectual activity. It is essential that students learn to express and defend their beliefs, but it is also essential that they learn to listen and respond respectfully to others whose beliefs they may not share. The College will always tolerate diverse, unorthodox, and unpopular points of view, but it will not tolerate condescending or insulting remarks. When students verbally abuse or ridicule and intimidate others whose views they do not agree with, they subvert the free exchange of ideas that should characterize a university classroom. If their actions are deemed by the professor to be disruptive, they will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, which may include being involuntarily withdrawn from the class.

Warning Concerning Copyright Restrictions:
The Copyright Act of 1976 grants to copyright owners the exclusive right to reproduce their works and distribute copies of their work. Works that receive copyright protection include published works such as a textbook. Copying a textbook without permission from the owner of the copyright may constitute copyright infringement. Civil and criminal penalties may be assessed for copyright infringement. Civil penalties include damages up to $100,000; criminal penalties include a fine up to $250,000 and imprisonment

Plagiarism and Cheating:
Plagiarism Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s work as your own.  1) When you borrow someone else’s facts, ideas, or opinions and put them entirely in your own words, you must acknowledge that these thoughts are not your own by immediately citing the source in your paper.  Failure to do this is plagiarism.  2) When you also borrow someone else’s words (short phrases, clauses, or sentences), you must enclose the copied words in quotation marks as well as citing the source.  Failure to do this is plagiarism.  3) When you present someone else’s paper or exam (stolen, borrowed, or bought) as your own, you have committed a clearly intentional form of intellectual theft and have put your academic future in jeopardy.  This is the worst form of plagiarism.  

Plagiarism, as defined by the Manual of The American Psychological Association (2010, 6th ed.): Researchers do not claim the words and ideas of another as their own; they give credit where credit is due. Quotations marks should be used to indicate the exact words of another. Each time you paraphrase another author (i.e., summarize a passage or rearrange the order of a sentence and change some of the words), you need to credit the source in the text.

The key element of this principle is that authors do not present the work of another as if it were their own words. This can extend to ideas as well as written words. If authors model a study after one done by someone else, the originating author should be given credit. If the rationale for a study was suggested in the Discussion section of someone else's article, the person should be given credit. Given the free exchange of ideas, which is very important for the health of intellectual discourse, authors may not know where an idea for a study originated. If authors do know, however, they should  acknowledge the source; this includes personal communications (pp. 15-16).

Consult the Writing Center or a recommended guide to documentation and research such as the Manual of the APA for guidance on proper documentation.  If you still have doubts concerning proper documentation, seek advice from your instructor prior to submitting a final draft.

Penalties for Plagiarism:  Should a faculty member discover that a student has committed plagiarism, the student will receive a grade of 'F' in that course and the matter will be referred to the Honor Council for possible disciplinary action.  The faculty member, however, has the right to give freshmen and sophomore students a “zero” for the assignment and to allow them to revise the assignment up to a grade of “F” (50%) if they believe that the student plagiarized out of ignorance or carelessness and not out of an attempt to deceive in order to earn an unmerited grade.  This option is not available to juniors, seniors, or graduate students, who cannot reasonably claim ignorance of documentation rules as an excuse. 

Penalties for Cheating:  Should a faculty member discover a student cheating on an exam or quiz or other class project, the student will receive a “zero” for the assignment and not be allowed to make the assignment up.  The incident must be reported to the chair of the department and to the Honor Council.  If the cheating is extensive, however, or if the assignment constitutes a major grade for the course (e.g., a final exam), or if the student has cheated in the past, the student should receive an “F” in the course, and the matter should be referred to the Honor Council.  Under no circumstances should a student who deserves  an “F” in the course be allowed to withdraw from the course with a “W.”

A new grade to denote academic dishonesty is now available, a “M” for “Academic Misconduct.”  It has the same effect as an “F” but will indicate on the transcript that the failure was due to academic misconduct.

Student Right of Appeal:  Faculty will notify students immediately via the student’s TAMIU e-mail account that they have submitted plagiarized work.  Students have the right to appeal a faculty member’s charge of academic dishonesty by notifying the TAMIU Honor Council of their intent to appeal as long as the notification of appeal comes within 3 business days of the faculty member’s e-mail message to the student.  The Student Handbook provides details.

Students with Disabilities:
Texas A&M International University seeks to provide reasonable accommodations for all qualified persons with disabilities. This University will adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations and guidelines with respect to providing reasonable accommodations as required to afford equal education opportunity. It is the student's responsibility to register with the Director of Student Counseling and to contact the faculty member in a timely fashion to arrange for suitable accommodations.

The College policy for
Incompletesdiscourages them.  Students who are unable to complete a course should withdraw from the course before the final date for withdrawal and receive a “W.”  To qualify for an “incomplete” and thus have the opportunity to complete the course at a later date, a student must meet the following criteria:

(1) The student must have completed 90% of the course work assigned before the final date for withdrawing from a course with a “W”, and the student must be passing the course;
(2).  The student cannot complete the course because an accident, an illness, or a traumatic personal or family event occurred after the final date for withdrawal from a course;
(3). The student must sign an “Incomplete Grade Contract” and secure signatures of approval from the professor and the college dean.  
(4).  The student must agree to complete the missing course work before the end of the next long semester; failure to meet this deadline will cause the “I” to automatically be converted to a “F”; extensions to this deadline may be granted by the dean of the college.

This is the general policy regarding the circumstances under which an “incomplete” may be granted, but under exceptional circumstances, a student may receive an incomplete who does not meet all of the criteria above if the faculty member, department chair, and dean recommend it.

Independent Study Courses:
Independent Study (IS) courses are offered only under exceptional circumstances. Required courses intended to build academic skills may not be taken as IS (e.g., clinical supervision and internships). No student will take more than one IS course per semester. Moreover, IS courses are limited to seniors and graduate students. Summer IS course must continue through both summer sessions.

Student Responsibility for Dropping a Course:
It is the responsibility of the STUDENT to drop the course before the final date for withdrawal from a course. Faculty members, in fact, may not drop a student from a course.

Grade Changes & Appeals:
Faculty are authorized to change final grades only when they have committed a computational error, and they must receive the approval of their department chairs and the dean to change the grade.  As part of that approval, they must attach a detailed explanation of the reason for the mistake.   Only in rare cases would another reason be entertained as legitimate for a grade change.  A student who is unhappy with his or her grade on an assignment must discuss the situation with the faculty member teaching the course.  If students believe that they have been graded unfairly, they have the right to appeal the grade using a grade appeal process in the Student Handbook and the Faculty Handbook.

UConnect, TAMIU E-Mail & Dusty Alert:
Personal Announcements sent to students through TAMIU’s UConnect Portal and TAMIU E-mail are the official means of communicating course and university business with students and faculty – not the U.S. Mail and not other e-mail addresses. Students and faculty must check their TAMIU e-mail accounts regularly, if not daily. Not having seen an important TAMIU e-mail message from a faculty member, chair, or dean is not accepted as an excuse for failure to take important action. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to sign-up for Dusty AlertDusty Alert is an instant cell phone text-messaging system allowing the university to communicate immediately with you if there is an on-campus emergency, something of immediate danger to you, or a campus closing.

Final Examination:
Final Examination must be comprehensive and must contain a written component.  The written component should comprise at least 20% of the final exam grade.  Exceptions to this policy must receive the approval of the department chair and the dean at the beginning of the semester.

Course Philosophy:
This is a demanding course. There is considerable reading and writing to be done and much to think about. You are expected to master the basic material covered in the readings and in lectures, and to participate actively in class. The assumption underlying this class is that we are responsible students and that we want to learn and do high quality work. Some lectures and discussions in the course are designed to supplement the readings. As such, you can expect discussions to present ideas that are not always covered in the readings.

1). There will be one midterm and a final each worth
50 points consisting of general essay questions. The Midterm will cover only the material for the first part of the course, and the final will be comprehensive, covering the new material and the material from the first part of the class.
You may use published material and your own notes in answering the questions.

(2). Class will consist of a mixture of lecture, discussion, and in class activities. Active class discussion is required. The purpose of these sections is to allow a more in-depth discussion of the issues discussed in the lectures and readings, particularly discussions of the ways in which these issues apply to problems in everyday life and to your field. You will be much more prepared for lively discussion during the classroom time if you have read the assigned material prior to the time in which it will be addressed in class.

Discussion Points: By 10:00 A.M. of every Monday, please submit by email a set of at least five brief discussion points related to the broad themes of the readings from your textbook and reader. Discussion points should be empirical or theoretical implications raised by the material that suggest creative connections to other issues, or follow up experiments. Do not submit clarifirication questions of the material. Comments must reveal thoughtful reflection on the material in fewer than 100 words. Be prepared to discuss the issues you raise and please bring a copy of your discussion points to class.

(4) Attendance: Attendance is not only mandatory, but crucial for this course to function well. You will be allowed 1 absence for emergencies, and you should provide adequate notice or documentation of these. Failure to provide notice or documentation, or having more than 1 absence will result in heavy penalties (i.e. dropping a whole letter grade or two).

Research Paper:  A written assigment (15-20 double-spaced pages) worth 50 points with at least 15 references is due December 3. Psychology Today and internet articles are not valid references. The emphasis on the research paper will be on your ability to write well (i.e., APA style, 6th ed.), integrate existing literature, and your ability to reason critically and scientifically. This paper will be an independent project (e.g., a proposed set of experiments, or a theoretical review) related to Cognitive Science. An academic presentation (15-20 minutes) will accompany this proposal.

(6). All assignments and requirements  must be completed successfully by the start of the final exam to pass the course.

Summary: Points will accumulate over the semester such that there will be:

2 Examinations (Evaluation, 1)                                 @ 50 points= 100 points
Participation & Attendance (Evaluation: 2, 3, 4)       @ 30(3) points = 90 points
1 Research Report + Presentation (Evaluation: 5)     @ 50 + 25 points = 75 points

Total possible points: 265  pts.
   A = 90-100%, B = 80-89%, Unsatisfactory = 79% and below





*Friedenberg &  Silverman (2006).
**Sternberg &Wagner (1999).

AUG 23

Exploring the Inner Space of the Human Mind: What is Cognitive Science

*Ch 1

AUG 30

The Philosophical Approach to Cognitive Science: The mind and the Machine

*Ch 2


The Psychological Approach to Cognitive Science

*Ch 3, **Ch 1|1, **Ch 4|6

SEP 13

The Cognitive Psychological Approach: History Vision and Attention

*Ch 4,  ** Ch 3|1, & 3

SEP 20

The Cognitive Psycholoical Approach II: Memory, Imagery, & Problem Solving

*Ch 5, **Ch 4|1-4, **Ch 6|1, Ch 8-9|1-2

SEP 27

The Neuroscience Approach: Mind as Brain

*Ch 6, **Ch 2|1-2



OCT 11

The Network Approach: Mind as a Web

*Ch 7, **Ch 6|2

OCT 18

The Evolutionary Approach: Change Over Time

*Ch 8

OCT 25

The Linguistic Approach: Language and Cognitive Science

*Ch 9, **Ch 5|1-2, **Ch 7|1-2


Artificial Intelligence: Definitional Perspective

*Ch 10, **Ch 6|2


Artificial Intelligence: Operational Perspective

*Ch 11, **Ch 11|1

NOV 15

Robotics: The Ultimate Intelligent Agents

*Ch 12,

NOV 22

Conclusion: Where Do we Go from Here/Academic Presentations

*Ch 13

NOV 29

We Do We Go From Here/Academic Presentations


Reading Day/ Research Proposal Due Date




AUG 23

First Class Day

AUG 27

Final Late Registration: Freshmen Convocation


12th Class Day: Last Day Courses May Be Dropped Without Record

OCT 15



Last Day to Drop a Course or Withdraw from the University


Faculty Evaluations

NOV 24-28

Thanksgiving Holiday: No classes


Last Class Day


Reading Day

DEC 4-10

Final Examination Period

NOTE: The above schedule and procedures in this course are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances.

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