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Ask MetaFilter questions tagged with cognitivescience

Questions tagged with 'cognitivescience' at Ask MetaFilter.

Published: Sun, 26 Feb 2017 08:36:27 -0800

Last Build Date: Sun, 26 Feb 2017 08:36:27 -0800


Non-technical book about neural networks?

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 08:36:27 -0800

Is there a non-technical book that explains neural networks in sort of an introductory way for general readers? I recently read Gideon Lewis-Kraus's NYT Mag article on Google Brain research, and I want to know more. Trouble is, I'm really not a math or computer science person. Is there a readable book that introduces neural networks--either on the human brain side or the CS side--without too much technical stuff? Or is that an oxymoron?

(The resources in this prior neural networks question are too out of my league.)

Google fu fail--story likely on hacker news about addictive web behavior

Thu, 17 Dec 2015 14:05:59 -0800

I read a story recently that I've not been able to find on Hacker News or Google about behaviors that are built into websites that make them addictive. I cannot find the story--I'm creatively remembering now how it related to the bottomless feeds a la Facebook, random reinforcement, and perhaps social pressure. Does this thread ring a bell for the hive mind?

Of Pencils and Pixels

Tue, 09 Dec 2014 08:52:26 -0800

I want to read scholarly work about why doing things with "digital" tools (like word processors or MIDI music keyboards) is experienced differently from doing things with "analog" tools (like typewriters or pianos). I've seen plenty of news articles and op-eds where artists, writers, musicians, and professionals confess that they prefer analog tools to digital tools, but I haven't been able to find scholarly work that attempts to rigorously describe or explain why.

I have read and enjoyed Nicholas Carr's two books, The Shallows and The Glass Cage. The former was largely about the cognitive effects of hypertext and the Web; the latter was specifically about the effects of automation. The latter also had a short commentary about embodied cognition, which I think might be a clue to finding more material on the subject.

I'm looking for books, papers or essays that engage with the following types of questions:

- what differences do people experience in their working/thinking processes when they use different types of tools?
- are there neuroscientific, cognitive, philosophical or other types of explanations as to why these differences are perceived?

What am I worth?

Mon, 17 Dec 2012 10:30:12 -0800

OK, I'm officially fed up with my university job. Now what? I'm a technician at a university. I've done similar work elsewhere, but this is my second year at this particular unit. We have a research head and some administrative staff, but I help lots of other external people who need to use our tools or expertise. Over the past several months I've grown to dislike the position, but I'm not sure what to do next. My job is demanding and I find it difficult. I was hired in lieu of a better-trained, higher-paid person, so I've had to learn everything as I go, with the resulting delays and inefficiencies: specialized scientific software, the use and troubleshooting of research equipment, bits of computer networking, unfamiliar scripting tools. This is in addition to my regular duties, which are time-consuming and require me to be extraordinarily flexible with my work schedule. I work semi-regular early mornings, late evenings, and weekends. The biggest problem is that I am not going to get good letters of recommendation here. A number of conversations and emails from our research head strongly suggest that he thinks that I'm lazy and inefficient (or at least unpromising). The researcher I'm directly answerable to expected me to be an engineer or physicist, and quickly lost interest in mentoring me when I turned out to be neither. My ability to contribute to his research is minimal. So I'm basically doing time-consuming, relatively menial work, while desperately trying to catch up on "side projects" that I have to train myself to do as I go along, with minimal support. All the while I'm receiving oblique criticism and discouragement. Although I work for a university and am eligible for limited free tuition, the demands of my job leave little time for class. Relevant classes are only offered during work hours, and I have little time or energy for homework. My job follows me home, it follows me after hours, it follows me on weekends. I think I will be laid off in the medium term. Our unit is losing money (we are supposed to stay revenue-neutral). In external faculty meetings, our head has openly speculated about moving from one technician (me) to zero. He went as far as to ask me when I'm leaving for grad school (I haven't even finished submitting my applications yet, and I'm certainly not guaranteed acceptable offers). I think having everyone training and bringing in their own ad hoc technical staff is a disastrous idea, given our labirynthine tangle of equipment and its need for maintenance and general wrangling, but whatever. It's more significant to me, personally, that letting me go is being considered an appealing cost-cutting measure. Other PIs have repeatedly mentioned that this is a desirable job for lots of new graduates, and that they don't expect to have trouble finding an ideal candidate quickly were I to leave. But what to do next? I feel like this job has actually hurt my chances to stay on this campus. Everyone in our general area knows our head researcher, and it would be awkward if someone rehired me. I've learned that saving face is sometimes a big part of academia. I'm the little guy, and it's their colleagues that researchers have to get along with, not me. I may have also hurt my chances at graduate school: I did try to take a graduate class this semester, didn't do especially well in it for lack of time, and it all but exhausted me. I think the expectation is that you bust your ass for 1-2 years, devoting yourself to the job completely, and then join a nice graduate program in the same area. I'm not terribly interested in graduate studies in this discipline. I'm interested in graduate studies in a more technical discipline, but it's precisely the one I have no time to take classes in. I do like the technical and quantitative aspects of my job, but I have no opportunity to pursue more in-depth on-the-job training. My supervisors have made it clear that they would prefer that I pursue training in my spare time, informall[...]

Cognitive Linguistics Reading List

Fri, 28 Jan 2011 10:57:43 -0800

Can you help me create an Independent Reading list on cognitive linguistics? I've discovered a love for cognitive linguistics three quarters of the way through my linguistic education at a university which is having none of that. The faculty here is very, very Chomskyian. The only professor mildly sympathetic to this school of thought has offered to do an Independent Reading course with me next fall so I can explore the field further before going on to graduate school. Problem is, I have to create the reading list and have no idea where to start. I've read The Way We Think by Mark Turner and Gilles Fauconnier. Other than that, I'm at a loss for reading that will get me well-informed and keep me interested.

What are you recommendations for must-reads in cognitive linguistics? Bonus points for cross-overs with artificial intelligence!
(Extra bonus points for articles/books by Stanford professors)

Thank you!

Can anyone learn anything?

Sat, 11 Sep 2010 16:58:15 -0800

Does someone with 'normal IQ' (85 - 110) have the capability to not only learn but comprehend *anything*? Can someone with average intelligence learn and comprehend any topic? (Rocket science, string theory, etc etc)

What inspired this thought:

"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years." - John B Watson

Do you get grade(d) to post?

Sat, 22 May 2010 12:56:39 -0800

How can I effectively use a blog in my class? tl;dr version: What sort of blog setup will be free and easy to administrate that allows not more than 30 students to post daily in a way that is significantly easier to use than BlackBoard (which we all know sucks out loud)?

I'm teaching a month-long class in cognitive science this summer. The course description is something like "The interdisciplinary study of mind and brain with contributions from psychology, anthropology, philosophy, computer science, linguistics, biology and neuroscience."

This course is offered through the psychology department, but I have license to do pretty much anything with class, as no one has taught it in several years and there are no requirements concerning content or evaluation. It meets 4 days a week, 2 hours per day for one month, starting in mid-July.

I have encouraged a number of students from cognitive science's other contributing disciplines to enroll so that we'll have a diverse set of perspectives.

Another teacher in the department has taught several "small group psychology" courses in which she uses a blog as a the primary means of evaluation/participation. I think this idea is pretty neat. I'd like to make participation on the blog be the only evaluative criteria.

All you have to do is post at least one relevant comment daily, ideally one that includes a question about the readings or a response to someone else's question. I decided not to require a text-book, and will just post the readings to the site. I have no problem with giving everyone an A on the offhand chance that they actually all participate daily in a meaningful way.

Class is two hours every day, and I'd like to make it more than just me talking. I think that having an online discourse to refer to during class might be a good way of sparking discussion.

What's the best way to pull this off? I'd love input about the actual implementation of the web site or the best way to integrate in-class lectures with the comments from the blog.

Also, if you have opinions about can't miss cognitive science readings or, even better, demonstrations, please don't hesitate to chime in.

Thanks everybody!

Help me take control of my education! Law, cognitive science...

Wed, 16 Sep 2009 05:27:22 -0800

Help me take control of my education! Law, cognitive science... Hi! Long time reader, first time asker. I'm 22, Irish and have studied up to now Law and German as an undergraduate. I've just had a pretty rough experience during a year abroad in Germany, the net result of which is that I have to repeat a year back home.

That has to do with some unrelated personal issues, which I'm dealing with now (finally...!), but it was made a lot worse by the feeling I'm losing control of my education.

Ok, so I chose to study law, against the advice of my parents who thought I'd be more philosophically or linguistically inclined. At the most anxious point over the past year I thought about packing it all in and starting again with computational linguistics.

That's getting at where I want to go, but I then don't want to abandon law totally.
I think the law/computational linguistics choice represents two sides of what I'm ultimately trying to get at - the nature of argumentation, and its implications/uses.

I don't want to abandon law totally... It's just I don't want to study 'just' law...

Further, I have, with little consistency, tried to learn in my spare time (for 'learn,' replace: reading a few popular science books), about persuasion, linguistics, jurisprudence, cognitive science, rhetoric, logic, economics, psychology, yadda yadda. The whole learning on my own gambit worked in the past, especially with languages, but I was studying those languages at school, working towards exams, learning on my own because class was boring. Now there's no structure to my self-directed learning, and no goal in sight.

It feels like I'm trying to do it backwards - if I was in America I'd study liberal arts first, with all those cool things like cog sci, lingusitics, languages; satisfy my curiosity, and then go on to law school...

So do I try and quell my dillettante-ish quest to learn everything to do with language and logic, and just get on with studying law?
Do I try and satisfy my lust for learning and keep on with studying those things at home, with little to show for it?
Or is there a post-graduate programme or field of studies I'm overlooking? I'm thinking of something like Symbolic Systems at Stanford (which seems more undergrad orientated) Would anyone even take me?

I'd love to do like Joseph Campbell and spend 5 years reading intensively in a shed in the wilderness, but I'm dealing with anxiety/add issues; I really think I'd fall apart without more structure and short term goals...

Thanks if you've read all of this! I'm driving myself crazy trying to tie these things together in some kind of coherent, worthwhile sense. Part of this is definitely me upset that *maybe* I'm not as smart and successful as I imagined myself to be, but I think I could do well if I got reenchanted by education. I could also just try and get by in the real world, but education does mean a lot to me.

Bonus points if you can suggest cool futuristic fields of study, and how to get at them - you know, neural networks, ontologies, natural language programming (all this stuff has to have links with law) - I'd even like to try programming, but as alluded to, I don't think I could do it on my own; I'd need structure: it would just become one more thing amongst all the other cool learning vying for attention. I'd prob start, then drop it after being distracted by a shiny penny and deciding numismatics is what I *really* want to study..


MRes? MSc? MPhil? WTF?

Mon, 29 Dec 2008 22:50:02 -0800

Canadian interested in UK graduate schools, but thoroughly confused by the different conventions used across the Atlantic! Please hope me! I have a BSc in cognitive science from a Canadian university and would like to pursue graduate studies in a related field at a UK university; ultimately, I am interested having a career in research, either in academia or industry. The graduate application process is big and scary, though, and I am further intimidated by the different terminology that is used across the Atlantic.

1. From what I've read, graduate studies for both Master's and Ph.D. fit under the umbrella term of "postgraduate"; is this correct?

2. What is the typical graduate study track in the UK? In Canada, students generally complete a Bachelor's, then a Master's, then a Ph.D.; is this similar to what is typically done in the UK? I wanted to check, because I heard that in the US, students typically do not get the intermediary Master's.

3. Assuming that I need a Master's degree, which of the following is the most appropriate for continuing to a Ph.D: MRes, MSc, and MPhil? What is the distinction between them? Are some of these degrees perceived to be more prestigious than others?

4. I did pretty well on both the general and subject GRE, scoring 750 or higher on all sections. If possible, I would like to include this information somewhere on my application as the graduating average from my Bachelor's was okay, but not great (A-). Is this a good idea? If so, where would I be able to include such information? I am guessing that UK schools don't generally care about GRE scores.

Bonus. If you have recommendations for good cognitive science programs or some general tips for a Canadian expat in the UK, please send them my way!

After some Googling, I have a rough idea of what I should do (i.e., look at postgraduate research programs), but it would be great to get some clear answers from people and confirm that I am looking in the right direction. I don't really have people I can ask about this sort of thing, so I look towards the wisdom of the hivemind. Thanks in advance!

I need examples of really bad research.

Sun, 21 Sep 2008 19:35:23 -0800

I am looking for examples of really bad research. I am the teaching assistant for an undergraduate research methods course and I am collecting examples of some really bad research to show students. These experiments can be bad in any number of ways: bad design, faulty reasoning, misuse of statistics, poor writing, and so forth.

So, MetaFilter, do you have a favourite example of bad research? If you have recommendations for blogs or websites that address issues like this, that would be great, too. (I recently came across a nice blog discussion on a paper that claims that global warming causes suicide rates to increase...)

These examples are meant to be fun for the students, so the more cringe-worthy, the better. Bonus points if they are related to cognitive science.

Thanks in advance!

Getting into Grad School with a substandard GPA

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 13:16:43 -0800

I'm looking for advice on apply to grad school along the lines of Computer Science/Cognitive Science. Major problem: Low CGPA blues. I've reviewed some of the previous threads on this topic, and they've been helpful. However, I don't think the overwhelming sense of panic that wells up on a regular basis in me will be assuaged without some personalized advice, so I'd appreciate anyone who knows the ropes on what it takes to get into grad school to weigh in on this. The short of it is that when I finally graduate in two years, I hope that I can get my GPA up to a 2.7. Here's the long of it:

Flew threw high school getting a 90 average without ever doing a shred of work. Got into the University of Toronto.
Went. Recieved a CGPA of .73 in my first year. Dropped out. Moved to British Columbia for two years. Had fun. Came back.

At this point I still didn't know what I wanted to do, and still didn't know how to study. Flew threw another three years of random courses. When it finally dawned on me that I really, really, love academics, that I've assumed all my life that I was going to go to grad school, and that I was royally fucking up, I changed my tune. At this point I had 15 credits under my belt with a CGPA of 1.7.

After having taken courses from roughly 12 different departments, I decided that I would pursue cognitive science and artificial intelligence, which means that, since I do want to graduate before I'm 30, I had to get a computer science degree in three years. Over the last academic year, I scored a 3.9. I stumbled with some summer courses that I was taking, only scoring a 3.0, which is probably what has caused the latest cycle of panic and depression, leading me to post here.

So... some questions. Assuming I can get straight As for the next two years, am I still fucked?

I'm pretty sure I can get stellar recommendations, because I'm always very involved in my classes, and usually come off as knowing exactly what's going in.

I've also been told by some follow students that U of T is notorious for marking very hard, and that some grad schools do note this. I find this somewhat dubious, but I guess, in general, does anyone know if U of T rings a positive note with admissions?

I could go on like this for a while (and am trying very hard to restrain myself), but really I'd just appreciate any information on how best to improve my chances on getting into a good masters program. (Any specific information on the nature of those few cognitive science departments in the world get bonus marks)

Recommend me some recent books on cognitive science.

Tue, 20 Jun 2006 10:24:21 -0800

Can anyone recommend any good, recent popular science (or undergrad/grad level) books about the way in which our brains work? I'm up-to-date with the computational side of things. But my batchelor's was 10 years ago now so I am aware that neuroscience, psychology and philosophy will all have moved on. I'm thinking along the lines of "Consciousness Explained" (Dennett, '92), "How the Mind Works" (Pinker, '99), "In the palaces of memory" (Johnson, '92). But more recent. Like, at least this century.

Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Mon, 17 Apr 2006 10:40:18 -0800

What sorts of things has linguistics added to the field of cognitive science? Im looking for concrete examples of ideas and concepts that the field of linguistics has contributed to the field of cognitive science. Just a basic idea of the sorts of things that linguists theorize about how the mind works, the sorts of research they do etc.

Associative memories

Wed, 30 Nov 2005 19:45:36 -0800

How is it that a song can trigger memories about a time in your life? I lived in San Francisco for a four-month period earlier this year and often listened to a particular radio station where they often played a particular song. Recently I was startled after hearing that song to suddenly be bombarded with memories of my time in the city. They were abstract memories, kind of like a flashback - images, sounds, smells, nothing concrete.

I told a friend of mine that lived with me in SF at the time and he reported the same experience - but not when he deliberately listened the song. He only had the 'flashback' effect once when the song came up unexpectedly in his playlist and he was half-listening to it. Further experimentation on my part confirmed that deliberately listening to the song does not induce a flashback.

I'm sure this is something that many people have experienced but does anyone know how this actually works, i.e. what's happening in our heads? Could you deliberately tie your present experiences to a song through repeated listening? And could you deliberately induce a flashback?

What is Interesting?

Tue, 12 Apr 2005 00:09:17 -0800

What makes something Interesting? Specifically, what is it about fractals, The Game of Life, the screensaver on my laptop that keeps distracting me (whoo, xscreensaver), and abstract art that causes me to stare at them for long periods of time without getting bored? It's not relevance or usefulness to my life, and it seems to be more than just the low level interest that, say, shiny things offer. Cognitive Science/Psychology and personal experience answers would both be appreciated!