To plan your course schedule, please check the Searchable Schedule of Classes at the registrar’s website and consult Professor Fey Parrill, chair of the department.

COGS 101, 201, 102, and 202 are all entry-level and can be taken in any order. CogSci majors sometimes take 101 and 201 simultaneously in the Fall and 102 & 202 simultaneously in the Spring, but this order is not at all required.

Schedule for Fall 2023

COGS 101. Introduction to Cognitive Science. Parrill. T Th 1:00-2:15 Location: TBD. See course description below.

COGS 201. Human Cognition in Evolution and Development. Luan. T Th 12:45-2:00 Location: TBD. See course description below.

COGS 206/406. Theory of Cognitive Linguistics, I. Tobin. T Th 12:45-2:00 Location: TBD. See course description below.

COGS 301/401. Special Topic in Cognitive Science: FuturologyTurner. Entry-level. No prerequisites. Requires consent of instructor. M 5:30-8pm. Location: Crawford Hall 618. See course description below.

COGS 308/408. Advanced Research Workshop I. Luan. M W 1:00-2:15 Location: TBD. See course description below.

COGS 312/412. Second Language Acquisition I. Shirai. T Th 1:00-2:15 Location: Crawford Hall 618. Cross-listed with LING 301/401. See course description below.

COGS 325/425. Cognitive Approaches to Literature. Tobin. T Th 1:00-2:15 Location: TBD. See course description below.

COGS 331/431. Introduction to Applied Linguistics. Shirai. T Th 4:00-5:15 Location: TBD. Cross-listed with LING 309/409. See course description below.

Schedule for Spring 2023

COGS 102. Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience. Luan. T Th 10:00-11:15 Location: TBD. See course description below.

COGS 202. Cognition and Culture. Tobin. T Th 11:30-12:45 Location: TBD. See course description below.

COGS 301/401. Special Topic in Cognitive Science: The Cognitive Science of LearningTurner.  M W 5:30-8pm. Location: 618 Crawford Hall. Entry-level. No prerequisites. Requires consent of instructor (request permission through in order to limit class size.

COGS 301/401. Special Topic in Cognitive Science: Cognition and Virtual Reality. Bendis. Th: 5-8:30. Location: 618 Crawford.

COGS 307/407. Cognitive Linguistics II. Shirai. T Th 1:00-2:15 Location: TBD. See course description below.

COGS 309/409. Advanced Research Workshop II. Tobin. T 2:30-5:00 Location: TBD. See course description below.

COGS 311/411. Mind and Media. Luan. M 5:30-8:00, Location: TBD. CAN BE COUNTED AS A SAGES DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR. See course description below.

COGS 327/427. Gesture in Communication and Cognition. Parrill. T Th 1:00-2:15 Location: TBD. Cross-listed with MLIT 327.
See course description below.

COGS/DSCI 330/430. Cognition and ComputationTurner. M W 12:45-2pm. Location: A09 Crawford Hall. Cross-listed with DSCI 330/430.See course description below.

COGS 390. Introduction to General Semiotics. Oakley. T Th 2:30-3:45 Location: TBD. See course description below.

Course descriptions

COGS 101 Introduction to Cognitive Science, 3 credits. A survey of major theories and facts about human cognition (including computational and engineering theories), along with an introduction to the kinds of methodologies available to modern cognitive science.

COGS 102 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience, 3 credits. A survey of the fundamental methods, findings, and theories that attempt to understand the human mind from a neuroscientific standpoint. It provides the student with background knowledge of brain processes underlying such psychological phenomena as consciousness, sensation, perception, thought, language, and voluntary action. The approach of this course is cross-disciplinary, including theories and data from clinical and experimental neuropsychology, brain imaging, neuro-electric and neuro-magnetic brain activity, neuro-linguistics, and behavioral neuroscience, among others. (“Cognitive Neuroscience . . .will increasingly come to represent the central focus of all Neurosciences in the 21st century.” —Eric R. Kandel, M.D., Nobel Laureate.)

Interested in cognitive neuroscience? Read this page to learn more about neuroscience at CWRU.

COGS 201. Human Cognition in Evolution and Development, 3 credits. The unfolding of cognitive structures and functions over time, in both the deep temporal perspective of evolution (measured across many lifetimes) and the shorter one of development (measured within single lifetimes). The approach of the course is cross-disciplinary, including approaches that come from anthropology, archaeology, philosophy, computing science, comparative psychology, primatology, and comparative linguistics, among others. For students familiar with basic research and theory in cognitive science.

COGS 202. Cognition and Culture, 3 credits. A survey of the fundamental methods, findings, and theories that attempt to understand the growth and evolution of cognition from a social science or humanistic standpoint. The course covers theories of human cultural evolution and change, of the relationship between the cognizing individual and larger social-cognitive structures, and of such phenomena as distributed networks, cooperative mental work, and the phenomenology of human experience.

COGS 205. Cognition and Design, 3 credits. Urbanism is design; architecture is design; of course, the aesthetic shaping of artifacts (such as computers, cars, and coffee machines) is design. Configuring surfaces, volumes, and portions of space in special ways, creating and changing formats for things and places that allow cultural practices to unfold while delimiting them, are essential “designing” endeavors of human civilization and are, necessarily, activities based on the cognitive capacities and constraints of our species. We “cognize” the human world in terms and frames of “designed” surroundings. Design is a basic expressive activity, by which we interact with our artificial and natural surroundings and create “interfaces” between mind and reality, thus upholding an interpretable world. Landscapes and cityscapes, work spaces of all sorts, buildings and parks, exteriors and interiors of homes, factories, institutions, and temples; furniture, artifacts such as machines, tools, weapons, symbolic objects, even the configuration (“building”) of our own bodies, are design. An inquiry into cultural cognition, aiming to understand how humans as socio-cultural beings think and feel, therefore needs to explore this dimension of spatial expressivity and to acknowledge it as a constitutive fact of human meaning production; it needs to study the aesthetic and pragmatic, political and historical, philosophical and religious, and simply everyday practical, semiotic aspects of this basic form of human creativity. This course will focus on spatial expressivity – design – in several primary keys and scales, including design for learning; design for verbal and technical communication, interaction, and commerce; design for expressions of authority and deliberation; and design for emotional display.

COGS 206. Theory of Cognitive Linguistics, I. 3 credits. This course is both an exposure to the technical field of cognitive linguistics—suitable in itself as part of a liberal education—and a gateway to advanced study of cognitive linguistics, leading to special topics and capstone experiences inside the cognitive science major. This course focuses on the methods that have been developed in cognitive linguistics in the last ten to twenty years for the study of grammar, semantics, and their relations to cognition. Click here for details.

COGS 215. Words and Mind. 3 credits. There is something fascinating and special about words. They are the aspect of language that everyone knows about and pays attention to–and every academic discipline with an interest in language has something to say about them! The sheer number of words known by every speaker of any human language is quite vast (and the exact number is a mystery). In this class we will learn about words in all their aspects, and see what the wide weirdness of words can help us understand about the human mind. Subjects covered include the question of what makes a word (is “ouch” a word? “ain’t”?); word origins; taboo words; words and memory; word boundaries; and word games, puns, and puzzles.

COGS 272. Morality and Mind, 3 credits. Recent research in cognitive science challenges ethical perspectives founded on the assumption that rationality is key to moral knowledge or that morality is the product of divine revelation. Bedrock moral concepts like free will, rights, and moral agency also have been questioned. In light of such critiques, how can we best understand moral philosophy and religious ethics? Is ethics primarily informed by nature or by culture? Or is ethics informed by both? This course examines 1) ways in which cognitive science—and related fields such as evolutionary biology—impact traditional moral perspectives, and 2) how the study of moral philosophy and comparative ethics forces reconsideration of broad cognitive science theories about the nature of ethics. The course examines the concept of free will as a case study in applying these interpretive viewpoints. Interdisciplinary readings include literature from moral philosophy, religious ethics, cognitive science, and evolutionary biology.

COGS 301/401. Special Topics in Cognitive Science, 3 credits. This course offers instructors the opportunity to examine a more specialized topic. Topics vary from year to year. 

  • Topic for Fall 2023: Futurology.Turner. M 5:30-8pm. Location: Crawford
    Hall 618. Entry-level. No prerequisites. Requires consent of instructor (request permission through in order to limit class
  • Past Topics
  • Topic for Spring 2023: The Cognitive Science of Learning.Turner.  M W
    5:30-8pm. Location: TBA, probably A09 Crawford Hall. Entry-level. No prerequisites. Requires consent of instructor (request permission through in order to limit class size.
  • Topic for Fall 2022: Bilingualism.
  • Topic for Fall 2021: Cognitive Science of Cooperation and its Opposite.
    • Many cognitive scientists have suggested that cooperation is a natural and unique feature of human social behavior. But at the same time, humans can be tremendously uncooperative on a monumental scale, in creative, and even terrible ways. Sometimes we are uncooperative in one direction in order to meet cooperative goals in another—to be humorous, to be ironic, to create compelling stories, to compete against others in a game or sport, or as a test of wits. And, as it turns out, it is not always easy for people to resist being cooperative even when they don’t want to be! In this course, we will study cooperativity and anti-cooperativity from a cognitive perspective, through readings from cognitive psychology, behavioral economics, primatology, linguistics, and philosophy, as well as case studies from law, filmmaking, puzzle writing, and the art of translation.
  • Topic for Spring 2021: Cognition and Gaming.
  • Topic for Spring 2020: Cognition and Virtual Reality.
    • Since the dawn of civilization people have sought to manipulated their senses, crafting experiences (perceived by the brain as real) to inform, amuse, educate and entertain.  In modern times we call this Virtual Reality.  The courses explores the history, philosophy, science, and application of virtual, augmented and mixed reality.
  • Topic for Spring 2020: Bilingualism.
  • Topic for Fall 2016: Social Cognition and the Brain.
  • Topic for Spring 2015: Elements of Surprise.
  • Topic for Spring 2014: Mind and Media.
  • Topic for Spring 2011: Cognitive Social Science.
  • Topic for Fall 2008: Cognitive Robotics.
  • Topic for Spring 2008: Cognition and Design.
  • Topic for Fall 2007: Cognitive Semiotics.
  • Topic for Spring 2007: The Artful Mind.

COGS 305/405 Social Cognition and the Brain, 3 credits. Human beings develop intricate means of presenting themselves to others; of representing others as friends, enemies, or strangers; of making quick assessments of any situation based on the attribution of intentions; of sizing up the Other via symbols and other shibboleths; and of the disposition and ability to empathize and sympathize with the emotional states of others for specific purposes. In recent years, the role of culture and cultural diversity has come to play a significant role in thinking about social cognition and the evolution of sociality. It is likewise an unfortunate fact that many human beings lack many of the means, abilities, and dispositions to connect with one another easily and without extensive and explicit tutelage. Such clinical populations (e.g., autistics, schizophrenics, etc.) are of considerable interest because of their promise as a contrastive model of typicality.

This course will focus on these aspects of sociality both at the level of the interpersonal and personal (cognitive and phenomenological) and the sub-personal (neuronscientific).

COGS 307 Theory of Cognitive Linguistics, II, 3 credits. Theory and practice of cognitive linguistics. 307/407 is self-contained and independent of 206/406. 307/407 & 206/406 can be taken in either order. Request consent of instructor through SIS. For a description of the course during Spring 2014, click here. CAN BE COUNTED AS A SAGES DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR.

COGS 308/408 Advanced Research Workshop I, 3 credits. This course is an advanced research workshop for undergraduates and MA students. The workshop involves development of research topics (theoretical or empirical), and working on them with the input of other workshop members to produce final papers. Note: Enrollment in 308 is by instructor permission only, and is one of two courses students can take to earn honors in the major.

COGS 309/409 Advanced Research Workshop II, 3 credits. This course is an advanced research workshop for undergraduates and MA students. The workshop involves development of research topics (theoretical or empirical), and working on them with the input of other workshop members to produce final papers. MA students in cognitive linguistics will typically take this course as the second part of a two-part sequence. Note: Enrollment in 309 is by instructor permission only, and is one of two courses students can take to earn honors in the major.

COGS 310/410 (xlist RLGN 310/410). Cognitive Science of Religion, 3 credits. This course introduces theories and methods in the cognitive science of religion. Particular emphasis is placed on applying cognitive scientific concepts and theories to such religious issues as belief in deities, religious ritual, and morality. We examine such topics as the relationship of religious studies to evolution and cognition, cognitive theories of religious ritual, anthropomorphism and religious representation, religion as an evolutionary adaptation, and cognitive semantics and religious language. Course work includes student-led discussions, a research-intensive essay on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor, and presentation of research findings to the class. Course readings are taken from the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences.

COGS 311/411 Mind and Media, 3 credits.  (cross-listed as LING 311/411)An introduction to the study of mind and media, including the study of multimodal communication. This course investigates patterns of human cognition that are ancient to human beings and upon which media have converged for powerful, immersive effect. The cognitive processes studied include perception, sensation, imagination, joint attention, narrative conception, simulation, dreaming, identity construction, imaginative play, and implicit learning. Students engage in hands-on media analysis to study how basic human mental operations are used in media to achieve a variety of effects. Students will be given access to a private website of instructions, readings, and materials for the course, and will be introduced to a range of vast, rich, searchable databases of media. Students will have ample opportunity to do research inside such databases. CAN BE COUNTED AS A SAGES DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR.

COGS 312/412 Second Language Acquisition I, 3 credits. (cross-listed as LING 301/401) This course is an introduction to the growing field of second language acquisition (SLA). SLA seeks to understand the linguistic, psychological and social processes that underlie the learning and use of second language(s). The goal of research is to identify the principles and processes that govern second language learning and use. Important factors in second language learning will be identified and discussed. These include: age-related differences, the influence of the first language, the role played by innate (universal) principles, the role of memory processes, attitudes, motivation, personality and cognitive styles, and formal versus naturalistic learning contexts. The objective of this course is to survey the principal research in second language acquisition. Students will become familiar with the major research issues through their reading of both primary and secondary sources, as well as through lectures and class discussions. Offered as COGS 312, COGS 412, LING 301 and LING 401.

COGS 314/414 Second Language Acquisition II, 3 credits. 

COGS 316/416 Decision-Making, 3 credits. This course is a topical introduction to decision-making, a major area of cognitive social science, with connections to economics, law, political science, business, policy, and related fields. Topics include game theory and rational calculation, equilibria, kinds of choice, heuristics, the role of affect in decision, framing, bounded rationality, mechanisms of choice, the role of social cognition in choice, concepts of self and other, and computer modeling of choice. The course also includes an introduction to the design of empirical behavioral research. CAN BE COUNTED AS A SAGES DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR.

COGS 317/417 Cognitive Diversity, 3 credits. This course surveys research from cognitive science (psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, etc.) on the ways that different people think differently. We will consider dimensions such as sex, gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, bodily differences, cultural differences, and effects of speaking different languages. Students will choose the last two topics at the end of the semester (Different religions? Different ages? Whatever interests the class!).

COGS 319/419 Elements of Surprise, 3 credits. This course will connect research into the cognitive experiences of surprise and suspense with the ways people can create those experiences for each other–cooperatively and uncooperatively–in everyday interaction and in cultural products like jokes, architecture, music, written narratives, films, and games. Topics include predictions and expectations involved in perceiving and navigating the physical world, cognitive biases, timing in conversation, language processing, attention, perspective-taking, counterfactual thinking, the psychological structure of explanations, and the psychology of “fair play”.

COGS 322 Human Learning and the Brain, 3 credits. This course focuses on the question, “How does the human brain learn?”  Through assigned readings, extensive class discussions, and a major paper, each student will explore personal perspectives on learning.  Specific topics include, but are not limited to: the brain’s cycle of learning; neocortex structure and function; emotion and limbic brain; synapse dynamics and changes in learning; images in cognition; symbolic brain (language, mathematics, music); memory formation; and creative thought and brain mechanisms.  The major paper will be added to each student’s SAGES writing portfolio.  In addition, near the end of the semester, each student will make an oral presentation on a chosen topic.

COGS 325/425 Cognitive Approaches to Literature, 3 credits. This course explores “literary” aspects of the way we think, as well as how features of our cognition are reflected in our creative use of language in stories, jokes, poetry, and other literary and literature-adjacent art forms. Questions of interest include: Can innovative ways of speaking produce innovative ways of thinking? Do creative metaphors draw on embodied experience? Why do certain rhythmic and other patterns in language sound “poetic” and how do they show up in everyday talk? Can fictions make us more skilled at empathy? What happens when we are “transported” by a story or “lost” in a book? What kinds of cognitive skills are involved in various kinds of literary performance? Do the stories we encounter in fiction affect the way we make sense of encounters in real life, and how? Can cognitive science help us learn to be more creative, more innovative, more effective, or at least more productive in our own writing?

COGS 327/427 Gesture in Communication and Cognition, 3 credits. Most people never notice that when they are talking, they’re also gesturing. Why do we produce these gestures? What’s their function? What can studying them tell us about the human mind? This course tackles these questions with a survey of scientific research on gesture. We explore topics such as the role gesture plays in communication, whether gestures help us think, and the neuroscience of gesture. Students gain hands-on experience with data collection and analysis by carrying out a research project. COUNTS AS A SAGES DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR.

COGS 330/430 (cross-listed as DSCI 330/430), Cognition and Computation, 3 credits. An introduction to (1) theories of the relationship between cognition and computation; (2) computational models of human cognition (e.g. models of decision-making or concept creation); and (3) computational tools for the study of human cognition. All three dimensions involve data science: theories are tested against archives of brain imaging data; models are derived from and tested against datasets of e.g., financial decisions (markets), legal rulings and findings (juries, judges, courts), legislative actions, and healthcare decisions; computational tools aggregate data and operate upon it analytically, for search, recognition, tagging, machine learning, statistical description, and hypothesis testing. The readings for this course consist of files that can be downloaded by students either from specified public links on the internet or from private links on the Google Site dedicated to the course.  The class is supported by a git server provided by the Case School of Engineering IT unit.  Familiarity with coding is not a prerequisite for the course; students will be introduced to relevant computing concepts and learn some rudiments; they will additionally work on a group project for the tools section of the class. Students with advanced formation in computational and data science approaches may propose projects that make use of that formation. This course can fulfill the foundation requirement for a methods course for the major in Cognitive Science; if that is your interest, email a completed Academic Advisement Report Substitution Form to Professor Turner at

COGS 331/431 Introduction to Applied Linguistics, 3 credits.(cross-listed as LING 309/409) This course provides students with answers to the question, “Linguistics? What can you do with that?” We will survey the ways that linguistics has been used (i.e. applied) to solve ‘real world’ problems. Some of these, like computational linguistics and the teaching of language, are intimately involved in language, even though they do not necessarily concern themselves with linguistic theory. Others, such as language and the law, use linguistics as a tool to do their work. We will be concerned with understanding the various ways that linguistic inquiries have been used or neglected, and also with the implications of applied fields for linguistic theories. Offered as LING 309, LING 409, COGS 331 and COGS 431. This course satisfies Global & Cultural Diversity requirements.

COGS 352/452. Language, Cognition, and Religion. This course utilizes theoretical approaches found in cognitive semantics—a branch of cognitive linguistics—to study the conceptual structures and meanings of religious language. Cognitive semantics, guided by the notion that conceptual structures are embodied, examines the relationship between conceptual systems and the construction of meaning. We consider such ideas as conceptual metaphor theory, conceptual blending, image schemas, cross-domain mappings, metonymy, mental spaces, and idealized cognitive models. We apply these ideas to selected Christian, Buddhist, and Chinese religious texts in order to understand ways in which religious language categorizes and conceptualizes the world. We examine both the universality of cognitive linguistic processes and the culturally specific metaphors, conceptual blends, image schemas, and other cognitive operations that particular texts and traditions utilize.

COGS 363 Philosophy and Social Neuroscience. A philosophical examination of recent research in human cognition and emotion at the intersection of the social sciences and neurological sciences. The course provides the student with background knowledge of brain processes underlying such social and cultural phenomena as bonding, aggression, imitation, mind-attribution, language, sexual behavior, moral action, and creativity. The approach of this course is at once scientific (comparing methods, findings and questions as they arise in clinical and experimental neuropsychology, brain imaging, neuro-linguistics, and behavioral neuroscience) and humanistic, asking critical questions about the nature and methods of a science of cognition, and surveying moral responses from a neurologic and philosophic perspective.

COGS 378 Computational Neuroscience, 3 credits. Computer simulations and mathematical analysis of neurons and neural circuits, and the computational properties of nervous systems. Students are taught a range of models for neurons and neural circuits, and are asked to implement and explore the computational and dynamic properties of these models. The course introduces students to dynamical systems theory for the analysis of neurons and neural circuits, as well as a cable theory, passive and active compartmental modeling, numerical integration methods, models of plasticity and learning, models of brain systems, and their relationship to artificial and neural networks. Term project required. Prerequisites: MATH 223 & MATH 224 or BIOL 300 & BIOL 306, or consent of instructor.

COGS 390. Introduction to General Semiotics I, 3 credits. General Semiotics is the study of meaning and types of signs conveying meaning. It is a central part of cognitive semiotics, or ‘high level’ cognitive semantics. This discipline is typically taught in departments of linguistics, cognitive science, philosophy, or cultural studies. The domain of semiotics is in fact widely intersecting with other disciplines studying meaning production (general linguistics, philosophy, neuroscience, anthropology, music,
literature, architecture, design, and the arts).  This course introduces to the main modern ideas and findings in the field of signified meaning: semiology, structural semantics, American semiotics, diagram theory, and cognitive semiotics.  (The course has a counterpart in COGS/WLIT 391.)

COGS/WLIT 391 Introduction to Text Semiotics, 3 credits. Introduction to Text Semiotics addresses both students of Literature and students in Cognitive Science. Most of the authors included in the reading list extend their linguistic approach towards fields that intersect literature, psychology, philosophy, aesthetics, and anthropology.
The scholarly traditions of text analysis and structural theory of meaning, including authors from classical formalism, structuralism, structural semiotics, and new criticism will be connected to cognitive theories of meaning construction in text, discourse, and cultural expressions in general. The focus of this course, taught as a seminar, is on empirical studies, specific text analyses, discourse analyses, speech act analyses, and other studies of speech, writing, and uses of language in cultural contexts.
This course thus introduces to a study of literature and cultural expressions based on cognitive science and modern semiotics – the new view that has be coined Cognitive Semiotics.

COGS 397 Capstone Research in Cognitive Science, 3 credits. The Capstone in Cognitive Science involves guided laboratory, empirical, theoretical, or library research, or service work with a research aspect, under the direction of a Cognitive Science faculty member who serves as Sponsor. The capstone work may be carried out within the Department of Cognitive Science or within an affiliated department or across departments and units. The capstone may be taken only one semester during the student’s academic career. A permit is required to take the course. The student’s Cognitive Science Sponsor must approve a written report and submit it to the chair of the Department before credit can be granted. A public presentation is also required. Contact the chair of the department for further information.

The Cognitive Science Student Organization often hosts an info session about doing a capstone in COGS.

COGS 399/499 Independent Study, 1-3 credits. Students propose special projects. Departmental approval of both topic and method of evaluation is required.

COGS 406 Theory of Cognitive Linguistics I, 3 credits. The first course in a two-course sequence designed to provide an introduction to cognitive linguistics at the M.A. level. It supports student work in COGS 408 and 409, the Workshop courses. This course begins with a discussion of major theoretical questions in linguistics. We first ask how these questions have been approached within theoretical frameworks which view language and general cognition as being separate from one another. The course then focuses on the methods that have been developed in cognitive linguistics in the last ten to twenty years for the study of phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. We ask how approaches that relate language to general cognitive processes (perception, memory, categorization, etc.) can lead to a deeper understanding both of language and of the human mind.

COGS 407 Theory of Cognitive Linguistics II, 3 credits. This course covers contemporary theory in cognitive linguistics in greater detail and supports student work in COGS 408 and 409, the Workshop courses.