Core Courses

Note: Effective Fall 2023, all main campus courses have been renumbered using a new 4-digit numbering system.

GU course descriptions and current offerings are no longer available for direct linking. They are only available through the Georgetown University Registrar’s Schedule of Classes link:

ICOS-201: Introduction to Cognitive Science (3 credits). Cognitive science is the study of the mind, i.e., of how knowledge is acquired and used. Cognitive scientists use theories and methods drawn from many disciplines including cognitive psychology, neuroscience, philosophy of mind, linguistics, computer science, artificial intelligence, physics, mathematics, biology, and anthropology. They ask questions such as: How do people acquire language? What are the neural bases of perceiving, learning and remembering? What is the nature of knowledge? Can machines think? How do experts differ from novices? Are there innate ideas? How did human intelligence evolve? This course introduces students to the conceptual frameworks and methods used in the various disciplines that constitute cognitive science. The course is team-taught by professors from the three university campuses. The format is lecture/discussion. This course is required for cognitive science minors, but open to all students. It is cross-listed in Psychology and so counts toward that major. No prerequisites. Fall.

ICOS-202: Research Modules in Cognitive Science (3 credits). This course introduces students to some of the research strategies in the different disciplines of cognitive science, by using faculty research programs at Georgetown as examples. Main Campus and Medical Center faculty offer research modules, from which students select three. In each module, students learn about and become engaged in some of the current research of the faculty member. A paper is normally required to complete each module. This course is required for cognitive science minors, but open to all students. Prerequisite: ICOS-201. This course is cross-listed in Psychology and can be counted toward the elective requirement for the major. Spring.

Other ICOS Courses

ICOS-301, 302: Research Tutorial in Cognitive Science. This is an independent research course, offered for a variable number of credits. Interested students should identify a Cognitive Science faculty member who agrees to supervise the student’s research, and written permission must be obtained from that faculty member in order to enroll. Cognitive Science minors who are considering undertaking a senior thesis may undertake preparatory work for the thesis during their junior year via this course. Staff.

ICOS-325, 326: Topics in Neuroscience: Diseases, Research, and Treatment (3 credits). This course uses an interdisciplinary approach to study brain function through dysfunction. It covers basic concepts in neuroscience, ranging from cellular and molecular underpinnings to structural and functional differences observed in various brain-based diseases and disorders. These concepts build to an understanding of pathology as well as points of intervention. Special emphasis is placed on (1) bridging basic neural mechanisms (neurotransmitters, circuits, systems) and higher brain processes (emotion, cognition, memory) and (2) understanding the methods of research and assessment crucial to studying brain dysfunction and disorder. The course will involve lectures, student presentations, and discussion of primary literature. Specific disorders and topics vary semester to semester, but course modules focus on core neuroscience principles and concepts, behavioral and psychiatric disorders (drug abuse, schizophrenia, obesity), and neural injury and neurodegenerative disorders (traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s). Prerequisites: introductory biology, a neuroscience course, or permission of the instructor.

ICOS-391, 392: Senior Thesis in Cognitive Science. Students who are undertaking a senior thesis in cognitive science must enroll for this course for a minimum of four credits distributed across the two semesters of their senior year. The number of credits and their distribution across semesters must be approved by the thesis mentor. The mentor’s written permission is required to enroll for this course. Staff.

Other Cognitive Science Courses

MATH-262: Topics in Neural Networks (3 credits). A neural network is a directed graph in which arcs and nodes have numeric and algorithmic properties allowing the performance of a desired computation. Neural networks permit a problem to be decomposed into many small independent parts. They have been utilized for pattern recognition in medicine, forensics, economics, and artificial intelligence. Our goal will be to study mathematical issues arising in the theory and implementation of neural networks. A variety of concepts from psychology, computer science, and physics also appear, giving the subject an interdisciplinary flavor. No prior courses are needed. Necessary portions of graph theory, analysis, and linear algebra will be covered in class, making neural networks an excellent chance to see how the multiple domains in mathematics come together. We will look at current and proposed applications with the aim of formulating improvements. Professor Kainen.

NSCI-521: Functional MRI: Theory and Practice (3 credits). Imaging techniques are crucial tools for neuroscientists. This introductory course reviews a variety of imaging methods (e.g., modern optical microscopy, clinical radiology, functional brain mapping) and their applications to the neurosciences. The course consists of twelve weeks of lectures and four weeks of labs. The course has the following goals: to introduce students to bases, uses, and limitations of imaging methods illustrated by examples form the neuroimaging literature. It will also serve to introduce students to imaging laboratories at Georgetown University. Participating students will be asked to produce a final paper to be completed by the end of the semester. This paper will require some background reading, synthesis of the theoretical issues discussed during the lectures and practical issues learned throughout the hands-on sessions. Fall. Professor Van Meter.

NSCI-523: Brain and Language (3 credits). This course is an introduction to the brain bases of language. It addresses theories and evidence pertaining to several questions, such as which brain regions underlie our use of language, are these regions dedicated to language or are they general purpose, and do different regions underlie the different domains of language (e.g., lexicon, phonology, syntax, etc.)? Multiple lines of evidence are considered including studies of people with acquired or developmental disorders (aphasia, neurodegenerative disease, Alexia, Specific Language Impairment, Williams syndrome), and investigations using functional brain imaging (fMRI, PET) or electrophysiology (EEG/ERP). Spring, alternate years. Professors Friedman and Ullman.

NSCI-525: Functional Neuroimaging and Cognition (3 credits). The course is designed to provide an overview of the application of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to the study of human cognitive and sensorimotor processes. Principles of experimental design, statistical analysis and interpretation are reviewed briefly at the beginning of the course. For the remainder of the semester journal publications of functional neuroimaging studies employing fMRI or PET are reviewed and discussed. These are selected to cover a broad range of areas: vision, audition, olfaction, language (word naming, object naming, phonological processing), plasticity, working memory and learning, motor control, brain development, emotions and clinical applications. Spring. Professor Eden.