PHL/LIN/PSY 463 -- Intro. to Cognitive Science                                                     Term Paper Handout

I. Advice on term papers
a. Any paper is a combination of research into the work of others and original contribution from the author. The relative proportion will depend on circumstances. In the case of a term paper for an introductory class, it is expected that the proportion of the paper reporting on research from other sources will be relatively high (though this is not necessarily the case). However it is essential that this research be reported in your own way -- using your own arrangement of the material and your own words. Students often need to learn to synthesize their sources -- to put the material they find together into a coherent presentation, stressing particular aspects of this research as a body. There can be a lot of creativity involved in doing this.
b. In writing your paper, follow the paper writing guide (on reverse). Remember that your instructor likes papers that are easy to read and interesting.
c. Many of the topic areas listed below are too broad for a term paper of the size for this course. In general the narrower the better. It's good if you have a specific question in mind -- something that you genuinely are interested in and want to know the answer to. This will help to guide your research more efficiently.
d. Use the text and the other texts on reserve for this course in the library as sources for references. I can also help with references in linguistics, especially semantics, and philosophy of language. For other topic areas you may have to consult specialists in other departments.

2. List of topic area suggestions -- not exhaustive!
Applications of connectionism (e.g. to language acquisition)
Bottom up vs. top down processing in vision and/or language
Can computers think?
Chemical information transmission in the brain
Color vision
Consciousness -- what it is and why we have it
Color vision
Developmental aspects of a cognitive system (e.g. language, vision...)
Gibson's views and their relation to cognitive science
Human reasoning
Mental models.
Mental rotation and pictorial vs. propositional representation
Modularity in cognitive processing: what it means; evidence for and against
Music and language/the grammar of music
Natural language processing in machines and/or in humans
Nature vs. nurture in cognitive processing
Pictorial vs. propositional representations: which are more basic?
Specific language impairment
The historical roots of cognitive science (Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Helmholtz, Turing...)
What is known about the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of our language processing systems? Our visual systems?

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