The Cognitive Science Seminar is one of the crown jewels of the Institute. It is both a course offering and a public lecture series.

Each semester's Seminar is organized around a different thematic area and offers seminars by national and international experts in the field. 

Current Semester

This semester's Seminar theme is Educational Assessment and Validity and is organized by Dr. Leigh Harrell-Williams, Associate Professor of Quantitative Research Methods, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology & Research, University of Memphis.

Fall 2022 Schedule

Next Semester

Next Semester's theme will be Agents: Why should they act? by Dr. Bonny Banerjee (IIS/Electrical and Computer Engineering)

In the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), anything that can perceive its environment and act on that environment is called an agent (Russell & Norvig, 2020). In this view, humans, most living organisms, autonomous vehicles, and thermostats are agents. A key question to understand for the design of agent models is -- why do living organisms act? In AI, there are two leading theories that strive to answer this question: (1) to maximize expected reward (a.k.a. reinforcement learning), which is the dominant view in AI, and (2) to minimize the brain's prediction error (a.k.a. predictive coding or free energy principle). A number of other theories have been extensively researched in the natural and applied sciences. In this Cognitive Science Seminar course, we will discuss papers and invite speakers from AI, robotics, psychology, neuroscience, biology, and philosophy to understand the influential theories spanning over a century of research regarding why living organisms act. 

Previous Semesters

Previous semester's Seminar themes:

  • Spring 2022 The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
    David Gray, Philosophy
  • Fall 2021 Computational Linguistics for the Social Sciences and Humanities
    Leah Windsor, IIS and English (Applied Linguistics) and Alistair Windsor, Mathematical Sciences
  • Spring 2021 Emotion and Cognition
    Ulrike Griebel, IIS, and Kim Oller, Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Fall 2020 Reading Literacy, Foundational Skills, Comprehension, Knowledge, Assessment, and EdTech
    How cognitive science on reading literacy and assessment is transforming research and development (or if it isn’t, how it ought to).
    John Sabatini, IIS and Psychology
  • Spring 2020 The Brain Basis of Human Behavior
    Gavin Bidelman, IIS and Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Fall 2019 Language Across Modalities
    Leah Windsor, IIS and English (Applied Linguistics)
  • Spring 2019 Models of Human Learning
    Philip Pavlik, IIS and Psychology (Cognitive)
  • Fall 2018 Harnessing the Data Revolution:Science in the Age of AI
    Andrew Olney, IIS and Psychology (Cognitive)