Cognitive Science

Cognitive science or Neuroscience is an offshoot of human psychology and is literally the study of cognition, or thought.

Cognitive science is an offshoot of human psychology and is literally the study of cognition, or thought. It includes language, problem-solving, decision-making, and perception, especially consciously aware perception. Cognitive science started with those higher-level behavioral traits that were observable or testable and asked what is going on inside the mind or brain to make that possible.  Cognitive science includes anything to do with cognition while neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. Cognitive science includes neuroscience, but also includes psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology.


  • Cognitive science and neuroscience:
    • Neuroscience is a branch of biology that began as the study of the anatomy and physiology of neural tissue. It grew out of clinical neurology and neurobiology, which evolved into neuroscience. Neurobiology concerns itself first and foremost with the observed anatomy and physiology of the brain, from major structures down to neurons and molecules. Neuroscience adds to that the study of how the brain works, mechanistically, functionally, and systemically to produce observable behavior.  This sometimes surprises people, but neuroscience is not solely — or even primarily — focused on the mind.  Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, but it can be studied in ways that are not directly related to the mind as such.  Most sub-fields of neuroscience have some connection to how the mind works — some more so than others.
    • Recently, cognitive science and neuroscience have been meeting in the middle. When fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging) came along, cognitive science, part of the “soft science” of psychology, suddenly got new legitimacy as a branch of the “hard science” of neuroscience. Funding increased, cognitive scientists started calling themselves neuroscientists, and the focus shifted to generating fMRI pictures of what was going on inside of the head rather than just speculating based on psychophysics observations.
    • Meanwhile neuroscience, which was working its way up from neurons and “lower animals,” started getting traction on higher-level topics like the formation of representational schemes, neural coding, memory, and decision-making. fMRI also served neuroscience because it made human experiments possible, opening the door to studying higher-level and human-only capacities. At that point, it bumped into cognitive science.
  • Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological processes and aspects that underlie cognition, with a specific focus on the neural connections in the brain which are involved in mental processes.  Cognitive neuroscience is a branch of both neuroscience and psychology, overlapping with disciplines such as behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, physiological psychology and affective neuroscience. Cognitive neuroscience relies upon theories in cognitive science coupled with evidence from neurobiology.

This hexagon helps understand the various disciplines that contribute to cognitive science..


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  • A central tenet of cognitive science is that a complete understanding of the mind/brain cannot be attained by studying only a single level


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