Language and Culture Specialization

A major may elect to receive a B.S. in Cognitive Science with specialization in Language and Culture (Major code: CG34). This area of specialization is intended for majors whose primary interests include human psychology and applications of cognitive science in design and engineering. Allowed electives include courses in cognitive development, language, laboratory research of cognition, anthropology, and sociology. The following requirements are effective for incoming students after Fa16:

LOWER DIVISION REQUIREMENTS (11 courses, 44 units or 10 courses, 40 units)

Math (chosen from the following):

  • Math 10A, 10B, 10C, 18
  • or
  • Math 20A, 20B, 18
    *Students intending to take Cogs 118A, B, C, or D are advised to take Math 20-A-B-C-E, 18, and 180A before their junior year.

Cognitive Science:

  • Introduction: Cogs 1
  • Design: Cogs 10 or Dsgn 1
  • Methods: Cogs 13, 14A, 14B
  • Neuroscience: Cogs 17
  • Programming: Cogs 18 or Cse (7 or 8A or 11)

UPPER DIVISION REQUIREMENTS (12 courses, 48 units)

Core (6 courses):

  • Distributed Cognition: Cogs 100
  • Fundamental Cognitive Phenomena (choose any 2): Cogs 101A, 101B, 101C
  • Cognitive Neuroscience (choose any 2): Cogs 107A, 107B, 107C
  • Computation: Cogs 108

Electives (6 courses):

  • A total of 6 electives are required, where at least 3 of the 6 electives must be taken within the Cognitive Science department. At least 4 of the 6 electives must be taken from the approved specialization elective list.
  • Students also interested in Machine Learning and Neural Computation can choose from this group of classes for their general electives:  Cogs 118A, 118B, 118C, and 118D.
  • One course in the Cognitive Science 19X series may be used as an elective to satisfy the requirements for the B.S. degree, but only with the approval of both the instructor who supervised the course and the undergraduate advisor.
  • Cogs 160 may only be used once for elective.

NOTE: Courses for the major must be taken for a letter grade with the exception of 195, 198, and 199 which are only offered on a P/NP basis; a minimum grade of C- is required for all courses; Complete most of your CORE courses during your junior year, if possible; At least half of all electives taken must be Cogs Courses; others can be chosen from the list of approved electives or petitioned through the department.



Benjamin Bergen. Professor, CSB 133,, website.  Research:  Mental simulation in language understanding; embodiment of linguistic constructions; processing of literal, abstract, and metaphorical language; language acquisition.

Lera Boroditsky. Associate Professor, CSB 166, (858) 534-4135,, website.  Research:  Relationships between mind, world and language. How we create meaning, imagine, and use knowledge. How the languages we speak shape the ways we think.

Seana Coulson. Professor, CSB 161, (858) 534-7486,, website.  Research:  Cognitive electrophysiology, cognitive semantics, experimental pragmatics, gesture comprehension, synesthesia.

Sarah Creel. Associate Professor, CSB 167, (858) 534-7308,, website.  Research:  Language development, word recognition, eye tracking, cognitive control, music perception.

Gedeon Deák. Professor, CSB 162, (858) 822-3352,, website.  Research:  Cognitive development in children, embodied learning, infant-parent interaction, cognitive flexibility.

Jeff Elman. Distinguished Professor, CSB 271/215, (858) 534-1147,, website..  Research:  Language processing, psycholinguistics, event representation, discourse coherence.

Marta Kutas. Distinguished Professor, CSB 155, (858) 534-7450,, website.  Research:  Normal and abnormal language processing, memory, information processing, aging.

Rafael Núñez. Professor, CSB 165, (858) 822-5253,, website.  Research:  Embodied mind, abstraction, cognitive linguistics, gesture production, mathematical thinking.

Federico Rossano. Assistant Professor,, website..  Research:  The development of social cognition in ontogeny and phylogeny; multimodal communication and its cross-cultural variability; cognitive development; comparative psychology; language evolution; social interaction and conversation analysis; social norms, social justice and accountability; cognitive and systemic psychotherapy.



COGS 12. Language, Culture, and Cognition (4)
Do people who speak different languages think differently? Does learning new languages change the way you think? Are some thoughts unthinkable without language? Course will bring together ideas and findings from psychology, linguistics, anthropology, neuroscience, and philosophy.

COGS 15. What the *#!?: An Uncensored Introduction to Language (4)
This course uses the study of swearing to introduce topics in language: how children learn it, why it changes over time, and how people pronounce and understand it. Students who believe they could be offended by the study of swearing and other taboo language might not find this course appropriate for them.

COGS 20. Exploring the Musical Mind (4)
(Cross-listed with MUS 20.) How do we transform complex sounds into comprehensible and meaningful music? What physiological, neurological, cognitive, and cultural systems are involved? Why do we make music in such diverse ways around the globe? Does music have evolutionary or ecological significance? What is the relationship between music, motion, and emotions? This course explores contemporary understandings of how we hear and how we become musical and invites students to listen to new music in new ways. Students may not receive credit for both Cognitive Science 20 and MUS 20.

COGS 101C. Language (4)
An introduction to structure of natural language, and to the cognitive processes that underline its acquisition, comprehension, and production. This course covers findings from linguistics, computer science, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience to provide an integrated perspective on human language abilities. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 1 and 14A.

COGS 110. The Developing Mind (4)
(Cross-listed with HDP 121.) This course examines changes in thinking and perceiving the physical and social world from birth through childhood. Evidence of significant changes in encoding information, forming mental representations, and solving problems is culled from psychological research, cross-cultural studies, and cognitive science. Prerequisites: HDP 1 or Cognitive Science 1.

COGS 143. Animal Cognition (4)
Review of historical perspectives: introspectionist, behaviorist, and cognitivist models. Examination of how perceptual and motor constraints and ecological demands yield species-specific differences in cognitive repertoire. Contemporary issues in the comparative study of the evolution of human cognition. Prerequisites: upper-division standing.

COGS 151. Analogy and Conceptual Systems (4)
Human thought and meaning are deeply tied to the capacity for mapping conceptual domains onto each other, inducing common schemas and performing mental simulation. This course examines major aspects of this cognitive activity including metaphor, conceptual blending, and embodied cognition. Prerequisites: upper-division standing.

COGS 152. Cognitive Foundations of Mathematics (4)
How the human mind/brain creates mathematics: embodiment, innovation, and creativity. The emergence and power of abstract concepts, such as infinity, infinitesimals, imaginary numbers, or zero. Cognitive approaches that connect mathematics to human thought in general. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 1 or Philosophy 1 or Psychology 1 or Education Studies (20 or 30 or 31); upper-division standing.

COGS 153. Language Comprehension (4)
The processes and representations involved in understanding language—processing words, syntax, semantics, and discourse—are examined in light of evidence from both psychological experiments and computer simulations. Prerequisites: upper-division standing.

COGS 155. Gesture and Cognition (4)
Spontaneous gestures and their relationship to speech, cognition, brain, and culture. The course covers, among others, gesture and language development, gesture and conceptual systems, speech-gesture coproduction and its brain bases, evolution of language, and gestural behavior in special populations. Prerequisites: upper-division standing.

COGS 156. Language Development (4)
A comprehensive survey of theory, method and research findings on language development in children ranging from the earliest stages of speech perception and communication at birth to refinements in narrative discourse and conventional fluency through middle childhood and adolescence. Prerequisites: upper-division standing and background in development psychology and/or linguistics is recommended.

COGS 157. Music and the Mind (4)
Explores how humans (and other species) process music, including pitch, meter, emotion, motor aspects, links to language, brain activity. Students should have experience reading musical notation. Prerequisites: Cognitive Science 101A or Cognitive Science 101B or Cognitive Science 101C.