Skip to main content

About Us

Mission Statement

UCSD-CogSci Brain Word Cloud

The Department of Cognitive Science is committed to transcending theoretical boundaries rooted in traditional disciplines in pursuit of a scientific account of cognition. To that end, the department promotes the study of learning, perception, action, and interaction in the physical, social, and cultural world. The predominant approach is rooted in an inter-disciplinary vision employing ideas and techniques from a number of disciplines, including anthropology, computer science, ethology, electrical engineering, linguistics, neurology, neurosciences, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. We aim not only to contribute to theory but also to apply what we learn, e.g., through design.

What is Cognitive Science?

Cognitive Science at UC San Diego is more than a department and an academic program; it is a thriving community with over 60 faculty across the campus, uniting scholars in many different disciplines. This broader community gives cognitive science at UC San Diego an unusual scope and depth. Moreover, this community is not simply a passive resource; it is actively engaged in substantive interaction and has a major presence on the campus. We believe the combination is unique.

The department emphasizes three main areas of study:

  • Brain - the understanding of neurobiological processes and phenomena
  • Behavior - the experimental methods and findings from the study of psychology, language, and the sociocultural environment
  • Computation - the powers and limits of various representations, coupled with studies of computational mechanisms

The study of cognition takes place within the controlled situations of the laboratory and the natural situations of the everyday world, as well as through modeling and simulation studies of these situations. The unit under study ranges from the individual neuron, to neural systems, to the individual person, to social groups in which language, social organization, and culture play important roles.

The underlying philosophy of the department challenges faculty and students to be knowledgeable in and sympathetic to a wide variety of fields and techniques. For example, required topics for both undergraduates and graduates include courses in behavior, computation, and the neurobiological basis of cognition.