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Cognitive Science is a diverse field that is unified and motivated by a single basic inquiry: What is cognition? How do people, animals, or computers “think,” act, and learn? In order to understand the mind/brain, cognitive science brings together methods and discoveries from neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and computer science. UC San Diego has been at the forefront of this exciting field and our Department of Cognitive Science was the first of its kind in the world. It is part of an exceptional scientific community and remains a dominant influence in the field it helped create.

In addition to preparing undergraduates for careers in a variety of sciences, the major also provides an excellent background for many professional fields, including medicine, clinical psychology, and information technology.

The concerns of cognitive science fall into three broad categories: the brain—the neurological anatomy and processes underlying cognitive phenomena; behavior—the cognitive activity of individuals and their interaction with each other and their sociocultural environment, including the use of language, information, and media; and computation—the capacity of mathematical and computer systems to model cognitive and neural phenomena and represent information, and the role of computers as cognitive tools.

The department collaborates closely with other academic departments and research communities, including the Center for Research in Language, the Center for Human Development, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the UC San Diego Medical Center, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the Center for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center, and the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, providing many outstanding resources and opportunities.

Students are encouraged to participate actively in the department by sharing their ideas about curriculum, research, and other topics with faculty and staff. Undergraduate students may join the Students in Cognitive and Neurosciences (SCANS) organization, which provides opportunities for undergraduates to meet students and faculty from UC San Diego and other institutes, visit research laboratories, and make job contacts. Graduate students take an especially active role in shaping the department, both academically and administratively, while they gain experience in research, teaching, and managing both labs and department affairs.