Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Hey guys, Thank you for all of the questions and comments on my previous posts! This entry will be addressing mostly the questions from my last two posts: “Road to CogSci – Question Answers” and “Touching on CogSci Classes”.
The first article “Road to CogSci – Question Answers” had a lot of good questions. A majority of the questions were about what I would do if I continued my education with a masters degree in Human Computer Interaction. I have recently (since my last blog post) talked to Damian Schofield who is the head of Oswego’s HCI program. Through him, I have been told so much more information about what HCI entails as well as some of the many projects from the real world that actual Oswego students are working on. One of the more interesting projects took place in Brazil where a team is developing a 3D avatar that is to read the subtitles on a TV and perform sign language to deaf people who are unable to read the subtitles. This is a successful project that is still in production and the cool thing is that Oswego students were actually able to help with the development of this! I have also found an interesting video which defines HCI very well and shows modern day HCI-related projects as well as some potential future projects which I encourage you to check out:
The second article “Touching on CogSci Classes” also had some good questions. To answer Paige’s question: it really depends on what kind of computer-related job you have. If it is simply using computers, then programming will not help you very much; however, computer programming is definitely a plus to have on a resume when applying for jobs as it simply shows your level of computer literacy and that you are well rounded.
Dan and Yaritza’s questions about the Computer Science classes can be answered simultaneously. Computer science absolutely requires much more application than it does memorization. It is actually the application of the material you learn in class that allows you to begin to fully understand the substance within the material. Essentially, Computer Science is more difficult because there are a lot of rules to know and understand that must be applied to every program that gets created in order for it to be compiled and run without errors. It is this that makes the computer science classes more difficult to understand. However, if you keep up with the classes and work to not only complete the application aspect, but to understand it, you will realize that these classes will be absolutely manageable and you’ll find that they truly aren’t all that difficult, but can possibly even be fun!
Monday, October 24, 2011
The idea for this post was sparked by the one I myself call my significant other. She is volunteering in southern Argentina, and since we are unable to talk with any sort of regularity I find myself deep in love struck thought far too often then would be thought conducive to a graduating senior. I would like to briefly address the neuroscience behind the phenomenon of love.
Humans are one species of the about 3% of species on earth that is monogamous. But is what you feel when you would try to swim across an ocean to be with someone a phenomenon of human cognition, or does the urge and desire lie within the folds of our brains. Researchers argue the later. We are by all conventional means, addicted to love. By scanning the brains of individuals who claim to be madly in love, it has been shown that the active areas of our brains are not consistent with emotional areas of the brain, as predicted. Instead, the areas of the brain that are activated while ‘in love’, are those that are responsible for ‘gut feelings’ and the areas responsible for euphoria when under the influence of drugs such as cocaine.
We show extraordinary similarities in this fashion to voles; a small mouse like rodent ( … ). Prairie voles are monogamous, whereas montane voles are not, and these close relatives are more than 99% genetically alike. Researchers have literally induced love in prairie voles by injecting them with oxytocin and vasopressin hormones, but when tried on the montane voles it had no effect. In prairie voles and humans alike, there are receptors for these hormones in brain regions associated with reward and reinforcement, and no such receptors in the montane vole, and probably much of the other members of the animal kingdom.
But don’t fret, just because our brains facilitate love, doesn’t make the experience and in effect the love, any less authentic.
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
- Carl Jung
Salmon, T. P., Gorenzel, W. P. (2010, June). Voles (Meadow Mice). Retrieved from
Fisher, H. (2004, February 4). I get a kick out of you. Retrieved from http://www.oxytocin.org/oxytoc/love-science.html
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Although it wasn't the most interesting book, what I hear now I know I've heard of before. All of those concepts - Cartesian Dualism, connectionism, and others - we learned in that one book. More than once in my semesters have I wished I could look at that book again, to give myself a refresher on the subject we were going over in my cognitive science classes.
That first book was the opener for the major. It may have seemed like information overload, but it got us ready for what was about to come. Pay attention to those first lessons, the basics, because what we do in cognitive science is top-down processing - start at the big picture, then go down deep into the details.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Honestly, I am still confused myself as to what field I want to go into. There are so many options. I don’t know if I am going to graduate school, at least not right away. With a bachelors degree there are still a lot of options for Cog Sci because it is a rising field. This is something that I have looked up many times online trying to figure out what would best suit me. Some universities that offer cognitive science have on the website a list of career options, here are some examples (there are MANY more):
http://www.cogs.indiana.edu/icogsci/what.html#CAR (click on the link that says careers in cognitive science)
One thing that I have been very interested in recently is human factors engineering. This would be to help make things that are designed well, unlike the things on this site: http://baddesigns.com/
When I made my decision to double major, I was told to go to the psychology peer advisor office (on the first floor in Mahar) to talk to someone who helped me decide. I would suggest going to the peer advisement and have them help you decide if double majoring is a good idea for you, and if it would be manageable.
I was a second semester junior when I added the psychology major, the workload was not too overwhelming. I had to make up 2 classes over the summer, but that was my own fault after failing a class one semester and I dropped a class another semester (and only had 3 classes that semester – not even a full time student). So I think that it is easily manageable to add psychology as a second major, even a few semesters in! I actually did the math and concluded that Cog Sci is about 51 credits, Psych is 36, and the gen eds are about 42 credits which equals 129 credits total. You need 122 credits to graduate, so this is only slightly more (two classes) than the required number of credits. Also, because Psych classes can count toward Cog Sci there are not really extra classes that are needed above the 122 credits.
Double majoring is not really much more demanding if the two majors work together, but it is more demanding than having a single major. There are a lot of fields included in Cognitive Science that would make good second majors; I just chose psychology because it is my favorite aspect of Cog Sci. You could choose something that is not as closely related to Cog Sci, but that could make it a bit more difficult to manage. Your advisor would have better advice on what majors go together than I do.
I do think adding Cognitive Science as a second major or even a minor could enhance anyone’s opportunities. You broaden your horizons by opening up to different subject areas and I think employers like to see that. As a major it opens up many opportunities (see the links above). If it is something you are interested in and you think you would enjoy it, then add Cognitive Science! It will be worth it!
I was not too thrilled about the computer science aspect of Cog Sci, but it was not too difficult. I made it through, and if you have difficulty with that part I suggest going to the CSA tutoring because they are students that know what they are doing and are very helpful. If you don’t understand the way the professor teaches something, the CSA tutors can usually explain it better in a more one on one fashion.