Graduate Course Descriptions

Language and Cognition

BCS 501: LanguageAn interdisciplinary introduction to the field of natural language, emphasizing behavioral, linguistic, and computational perspectives. Topics include language structure, production, comprehension, and acquisition.

BCS 502: CognitionAn interdisciplinary introduction to cognition. Topics covered include learning, memory, attention, concepts and categories, cognitive development, and reasoning, each considered from the perspectives of behavioral study, computational processes, and neural mechanisms.

BCS 511: Behavioral Methods in Cognitive ScienceThis course reviews the leading methods used to investigate cognitive skills and/or their neural substrate in humans. The course is divided into several sections: accuracy and psychophysics; RT and processing states; interference, neighborhood effects and system dynamics; investigations of natural data; brain imaging methods as applied to the cognitive sciences; and issues when studying special populations such as infants, patients, animals or any non-compliant subject. Technical articles on each technique are discussed in combination with specific illustrations of how each has been used to investigate research questions.

BCS 550: Development of MindA survey of the major topics and issues in development. The course covers the development of sensation, perception, cognition, and language in humans, as well as the development of neural mechanisms and systems in other species. A major theme involves the nature/nurture issue, including the interacting roles of experience and maturation, the constraints on plasticity provided by maturation (for example, in critical period phenomena), and the differences and similarities between development and learning.

BCS 555: Language Acquisition—The course covers a broad range of topics on the child's acquisition of a native language, including literature on the acquisition of spoken and signed languages, as well as theories of the language learning process. Focus is on the acquisition of syntax and morphology.

BCS 558: Music and the MindIntroduction to the discipline of music cognition. Topics include empirical methods, psycho-acoustic principles, Gestalt psychology, music and language, metric and tonal hierarchies, music and the brain, musical development, and research on memory, expectation, and emotion. Students are responsible for readings, discussion, midterm exam, and a major research paper.

BCS 560: Proseminar in Music Cognition—The objective of this course is to engage in professional-level music-cognitive research. The course surveys primary research in the field of music cognition and functions as a laboratory course in experimental method. Students discuss and critique experimental studies published in journals and monographs. In addition, the class works collaboratively to build skills in experimental design and data analysis via readings and class demonstrations/activities. Each student is expected to design and run an empirical experiment or computational project as a final research paper.

BCS 561: Speech Perception and RecognitionProvides an overview of the theories and empirical findings on human speech perception and recognition. Topics include an overview of phonetics, categorical perception, speech perception by nonhumans and by human infants, perception of nonnative speech sounds, intermodal perception of speech, and the interaction between speech perception and production. Additional topics include talker, rate, and dialect variability, perception of sine-wave and noise-vocoded speech, gradient effects in consonant perception, cochlear implants and plasticity, brain correlates of speech perception (fMRI, MEG, ERP), and automatic speech recognition.

BCS 562: Language ProductionCovers current and classic topics in the field of language production. Topics include speech error models, computational models of lexical/phonological encoding, issues in syntactic encoding, the incrementality of speech production, comprehension vs. production, and hearer vs. speaker-oriented accounts of production processes.

BCS 563: Topics in Language Production and ComprehensionThis seminar offers an in-depth examination of selected topics in language comprehension, including lexical processing, parsing, and anaphora resolution. Theoretical ideas from linguistics and artificial intelligence are integrated with experimental studies of language processing.

BCS 564: Signed Language Structure—An examination of signed languages and the cognitive constraints that shape them, through a detailed consideration of the structure of American Sign Language and other natural signed languages of the world. Includes training in sign language notation and analysis.

BCS 565: Language and the BrainThis course will examine how the comprehension and production of language is implemented in the human brain. It will focus on spoken language (not written or signed language) and fMRI (not ERPs and other imaging modalities). We will consider a number of questions about brain activation to: speech vs non-speech/music, native vs non-native phonetics/phonology, effects of learning/expertise, lexical organization (neighborhood structure) and development, form-class and semantic category constraints on processing, and the role of perceptual brain regions in semantic processing. We will also explore new fMRI analysis methods and experimental designs that could be suitable for addressing these questions.

BCS 566: Topics in Understanding LanguageThis seminar will focus on selected topics in language processing, for graduate students and faculty in the language sciences. The specific topic for a particular year will be announced.

BCS 568: Sign Language Universals and TypologyCrosslinguistic comparisons among signed languages, considering the possible linguistic universals for signed languages, the degree and types of variation among different signed languages, the ways in which universals and language specific variation for signed languages may compare and contrast to those for spoken languages, and the visual, motoric, and cognitive constraints which may give rise to these phenomena.

BCS 569: Sign Language Psycholinguistics and Acquisition—Consideration of the processing, historical development, and acquisition of signed languages, with an interest in the ways that language processing, development, and evolution may affect language structure.

BCS 581: Music and Language—This course will explore relationships between musical and linguistic structure. In addition to reading and evaluating early writings on the subject by Bernstein and Lerdahl & Jackendoff, students will assess more recent work by Huron and Patel, and the linguists Hayes and Ladd on prosodic structure. We will also discuss experimental work on prosodic structure in language and on music acquisition in infants. Co-taught by a music theorist and linguist, the course will review basic aspects of phonology, intonational phonology, meter, and memory that are relevant to music. Each student will complete a piece of original research in the form of a term paper and class presentation. Permission of instructor required for non-Eastman students.


BCS 504: Sensory SystemsAn introduction to the functioning of the senses and the physiological mechanisms underlying them. Topics include vision, audition, somatosensation, the vestibular system, gustation and olfaction, with an emphasis on the general principles that govern mammalian sensory systems.

BCS 505: Perception and Motor SystemsAn interdisciplinary introduction to perception and action. Topics covered include the perception of motion, depth, surfaces, pattern and object perception, eye movements, motor planning and organization, and attention.

BCS 519: Instrumentation and Methods for Vision Research—This course describes the design, construction, and operation of optical instrumentation used in modern vision research. We discuss techniques to deliver visual and auditory stimuli and to measure visual performance in human subjects, animal subjects, and single neurons. Examples of topics covered include display calibration, light measurement, computer control of experiments, eye tracking techniques, virtual environments, and brain imaging.

BCS 521: Auditory Perception—This course considers how we comprehend the auditory environment. Topics include the physical stimulus for hearing, the physiology of the auditory system  (both at the periphery and in the central nervous system), the psychophysics of basic auditory perception (e.g., hearing thresholds),  higher level auditory perception (including auditory scene analysis and the perception of complex auditory events such as speech and music), and hearing disorders. Considers research from a diverse range of perspectives including behavioral research, cognitive neuroscience, studies of individual differences, and research that adopts a comparative perspective.

BCS 524: Multisensory Processing

BCS 528: Special Topics in Vision—Advanced seminar on a chosen problem in vision sciences. In previous years topics have included motion perception, stereopsis, color vision and visuo-motor control.

Cognitive Neuroscience

BCS 508: Neural Plasticity in Learning and DevelopmentAn examination of neural plasticity in development as well as in adult learning and memory. Topics covered are approached from the joint perspectives of behavior, computational modeling, and neural mechanisms. Prerequisite: BCS 507 or equivalent.

BCS 513: Introduction to fMRI: Imaging, Computational Analysis and Neural RepresentationsThe core focus of the course will be on how fMRI can be used to ask questions about neural representations and cognitive and perceptual information processing.

BCS 514: Laboratory in Neurobiology—This course introduces various methods used in neurobiological research. Structured laboratory experiments provide experience with neuroanatomical, neurochemical, neuropharmacological, and neurophysiological approaches to studying neural organization and function. During an extended project, students carry out stereotaxic surgery, collect behavioral measurements, process neural tissue for microscopic analysis, collect anatomical data, and produce a final research paper. Prerequisite: BCS 507 or equivalent.

NSC 531: Integrative Neuroscience—APPROACHES & TECHNIQUES: Experimental approaches to relating brain & behavior; Neurophysiological techniques; Computational approaches; Imaging; Neuroanatomical techniques SENSORY SYSTEMS: Somatosensory system; Auditory system; Visual system: retina & retinal projections; LGN & striate cortex, extrastriate cortex; Vestibular system; Chemical senses MOTOR SYSTEMS: Muscles & spinal cord; Motor cortex & descending control; Neural control of eye movements; Basal ganglia: structure & function; Cerebellum REGULATORY AND INTEGRATIVE SYSTEMS: Autonomic function; Hypothalamus; Sleep, arousal & circadian rhythms; Reward systems/Basal ganglia; Brain mechanisms of emotion COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE: Brain plasticity; Learning & Memory; Neural mechanisms of attention; Neural basis of spatial cognition & decision-making; Frontal lobe; Reward & decision-making; Language & Brain. Prerequisites: NSC 511

BCS 542: Neuropsychology—Examines clinical neuropsychology, which bridges neurology, neuroscience, and clinical psychology. Covers history of clinical neuropsychology, principles of neuropsychological assessment, and the interpretation of cognition and behavior as they relate to brain dysfunction. Considers specific neurological syndromes including neurodegenerative, cerebrovascular, toxic, and memory disorders; epilepsy; head trauma; infectious processes; pediatric neuropsychology; psychiatric syndromes; and forensic neuropsychology. Patient presentations (videotape and in-person interviews) supplement lectures.

BCS 543: Neurochemical Foundations of Behavior—Introduces the field of neurochemistry with an emphasis on cellular and molecular neurochemistry. Topics range from study of neurochemical mechanisms that underlie normal neural function to discussion of behavioral disturbances that result from neurochemical abnormalities. Considers neurochemical mechanisms of adaptive behavior, learning and memory, behavioral disorders, gender differences and drug-seeking behavior.

BCS 546: Biology of Mental Disorders—Examines the neurobiology of anxiety/phobic conditions, mood disorders, and chronic psychotic states, particularly schizophrenia. Considers definitions of psychiatric syndromes, the problems of diagnosis, brain organization, and neurotransmitter systems involved in "state" functions. Introduces research approaches including epidemiologic, phenomenologic, family/adoption, longitudinal descriptive, psychophysiologic, neuropharmacologic, genetic linkage, and post-mortem studies; emphasizes recent in vivo brain imaging and neuroreceptor studies.

BCS 547: Introduction to Computational NeuroscienceA review of recent progress in computational theories of the brain, emphasizing theories of representation and computation in neural circuits. The course begins with biophysical models of neurons and end with models of complex cognitive functions such as sensory motor transformations or sentence processing. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in BCS, NSC, or CS, or permission of instructor.

BCS 548: NeuroeconomicsWe will discuss the neuroscience and psychology underlying reward-based decisions. Topics of discussion will include behavioral economics, neuroimaging studies of consumer behavior, physiological studies of the reward system, and computational models of choice and reinforcement learning. Students will be expected to read several scholarly articles each week, attend lectures, and participate in discussions.

BCS 549: Developmental Neurobiology—Advanced treatment of the development of the nervous system, including the nature/nurture issue and factors that influence the development of neural organization and function. Topics include the production, migration, differentiation and survival of neurons; functional specialization of neural regions; axonal navigation; target mapping. Compares and contrasts developmental plasticity with forms of neural plasticity exhibited in adults.

Computational Science and Statistics

STT 203: Introduction to Mathematical Statistics—Discrete and continuous probability distributions and their properties. Principle of statistical estimation and inference. Point and interval estimation. Maximum likelihood method for estimation and inference. Tests of hypotheses and confidence intervals, contingency tables, and related topics.

STT 422: Design of Experiments—Randomized blocks and Latin squares, one- and two-way classifications, factorial experiments, analysis of variance and covariance, t-tests and F-tests. Excel, Minitab and JMP and SAS and similar programs.

STT 441: Applied Multivariate Analysis—Methodology and applications of multivariate analysis. Hotelling's T-square, multivariate regression and analysis of variance. Classification and discrimination. Principal components, clustering, multidimensional scaling. Computer programs including JMP and SAS.

BST 464: Statistical Methods for Biomedical Applications—Simple linear regression and correlation; one-way and two-way analysis of variance; multiple comparisons involving means; analysis of covariance; multiple linear regression; logistic regression; log-linear models; introduction to survival analysis, including Kaplan-Meier curves and the Cox proportional-hazards regression model; sample size determination; confounding; multicolinearity; model checking.

BCS 510: General Linear Approaches to Data Analysis I—Issues of data analysis in experimental research. The course focuses on parametric techniques, especially analysis of variance. Topics covered include simple and complex designs for between and within subjects factors, including mixed designs; analysis of covariance and trend and contrasts. The course includes a lab in which students are taught to use a popular statistical package for data analysis. Prerequisite: STT 211 or equivalent.

BCS 512: Computational Methods in Cognitive ScienceThis course examines mathematical/computational models of visual perception, decision making, learning, and movement control. The objective is to develop technical knowledge and skills needed to formulate, evaluate, and understand such models.

CSP 519: Data Analysis: General Linear Applications—Topics include multiple regression, structural equations (e.g. path analysis), and multivariate techniques. The emphasis is practical, focusing on the analysis of actual psychological data.

BCS 530: Methods in Data-Enabled Research Into Human Behavior and its Cognitive and Neural Mechanisms—This course provides a hand-on introduction to experimental and analytical methods in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Each year, it offers three modules from a rotating list, including topics such as brain imaging, computational linguistics, and computer vision. The course is open to graduate students in any discipline. The course is recommended for who intend to pursue research in the intersection of cognitive science and computer science, but prior experience in those fields is not required. It is required for students supported by the BCS/CS NRT graduate training grant. For 2016, the modules are deep learning, psycholinguistics, and computer vision.

BCS 531: Practicum in Data-Enabled Research Into Human Behavior and its Cognitive and Neural Mechanisms—In this interdisciplinary project course, graduate students will work in mixed teams to develop an artifact that addresses a research question and/or infrastructure need in the intersection of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Students will learn principles of design by participating in the stages of brainstorming, specification, initial design, prototyping, refinement, and evaluation. The artifacts created by this course could include online showcases, demonstrations, tutorials, blogs, scientific papers, and software components to support further research. The course is required for students supported by the BCS/CS NRT graduate training grant, and should be taken the semester after the corresponding methods course.

BCS 532: Probabilistic Theories of Cognitive ProcessingThis course is a graduate-level seminar intended to teach students about state-of-the-art probabilistic theories of human cognitive processing. Topics covered include theories of language, perception, categorization, numerical cognition, and decision making.

BCS 533: Statistical Speech and Language Processing—An introduction to statistical natural language processing and automatic speech recognition techniques. This course presents the theory and practice behind the recently developed language processing technologies that enable applications such as speech-driven dictation systems, document search engines (e.g., finding web pages) and automatic machine translation. Prerequisite: CSC 172 and either CSC 240 or CSC 242.

BCS 535: Natural Language Processing—An introduction to natural language processing: constructing computer programs that understand natural language. Topics include parsing, semantic analysis, and knowledge representation.

BCS 536: Machine Vision—Introduction to computer vision, including camera models, basic image processing, pattern and object recognition, and elements of human vision. Specific topics include geometric issues, statistical models, Hough transforms, color theory, texture, and optic flow.

BCS 538: Computational Problems in Vision—An advanced seminar on the union of computational work and human vision. Topics vary but typical examples include levels of representation, parallel and serial processing, object recognition, distributed versus local representations, vision with a moving observer, and attention.

BCS 539: Computational Models of Behavior—This is an advanced seminar which reviews recent developments in computer vision, connectionism, and reinforcement learning and their relevance to human behavior.

Other Courses

BCS 582: Grant Writing WorkshopA workshop in which students will write a proposal for either a pre-doctoral or post-doctoral NRSA fellowship from NIH. Students will review old NRSA proposals, both successful and unsuccessful and analyze the components of a successful proposal. Through process of peer review and discussion, students will write and revise the main sections of an NRSA proposal, culminating in a penultimate proposal that will be reviewed by two mock study sections – one in the class and one by faculty in BCS and CVS. Reviews from these study sections will be returned a week before the deadline for NRSA proposals at NIH. Students are encouraged to use the class to prepare real proposals that they can submit to NIH.

BCS 591: Readings at the Ph.D. Level

BCS 595: Research at the Ph.D. Level

BCS 598: Supervised Teaching

BCS 599: Professional Development and Career PlanningThe purpose of this 1-credit course is to provide first- and second-year graduate students with a set of guiding principles for optimizing their progression through the PhD program. The following topics will be discussed: fulfilling program requirements, advising and mentoring, time management, conference presentations and journal publications, writing skills for journals and grants, how to juggle, persist, drop, and collaborate in your research projects, the post-PhD job market and qualifications required for success.

BCS 999: Doctoral Dissertation