The Cognitive Science Concentration at Oberlin College

Concentration Description

Cognitive science is the study of thought processes, mental representations, and information processing. The goal of cognitive science is to understand the nature of cognition, with respect to its mechanisms, origins, development, and deployment. Cognitive science is not a unitary field of study, but rather one that integrates the perspectives and methodologies of a variety of parent disciplines (psychology, neuroscience, computer science, philosophy, anthropology, and linguistics). The field examines thinking at many levels of analysis ranging from the study of single neurons in the brain, to the investigation of the cognitive process of the individual, to the examination of complex decision making in social groups. Given its broad scope, cognitive science tackles a host of significant issues such as the nature of human consciousness, the nature of knowledge representation in the mind/brain, the possibility and ways that computers might think, and the link between mental and physical processes.

Cognitive Sciences at Oberlin

The Cognitive Sciences Concentration at Oberlin focuses on the study of human cognition from many perspectives. The concentration is intended to familiarize students with the different methodological approaches used to investigate human cognition. Given the concentration's interdisciplinary nature, students will be required to take relevant courses from several fields of inquiry including psychology, neuroscience, computer science, economics, philosophy and anthropology.

*Download Declaration of Cognitive Science Concentration Form

Concentration Requirements

To familiarize students with basic methodological approaches to the study of the mind and brain, the following core courses in psychology and neuroscience are required for the concentration. Note that NSCI 201 or 204 can act as the prerequisite for PSYC 219.

Core Courses

  • PSYC 219 - Cognitive Psychology
  • NSCI 201 - The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience or NSCI 204 - Human Neurobiology

In addition to the core course requirement, students must take four elective courses. To ensure breadth, each of the four elective courses must be from a different participating department within the cognitive sciences concentration (i.e., psychology, neuroscience, computer science, philosophy, economics, anthropology, etc. See below list.). Students should be aware that some of the elective courses have prerequisites and plan accordingly. An appropriate three-credit private reading or other course offering may count as one of the electives upon approval by the Cognitive Sciences Chair.

Elective Courses


  • ANTH 204 - Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
  • ANTH 251 - Language, Culture and Society
  • ANTH 468 - Seminar: Language and Cognition

Computer Science

  • CSCI 299 - Mind and Machine
  • CSCI 364 - Artificial Intelligence


  • ECON 232 - Experimental Economics
  • ECON 313 - Games and Strategy in Economics

Hispanic Studies

  • HISP 311 - Linguistics For Language Students

Music Theory

  • MUTH 317 - Music & Embodied Cognition


  • NSCI 319 - Neurophysiology: Neurons to Networks to Cognition
  • NSCI 320 - Neuroanatomy
  • NSCI 325 - Neuropharmacology
  • NSCI 331 - Hormones, Brain and Behavior
  • NSCI 350 - Behavioral Neuroscience


  • PHIL 200 - Deductive Logic
  • PHIL 201 - Reason and Argument
  • PHIL 220 - Philosophy of Language
  • PHIL 228 - Philosophy of Mind


  • PSYC 206 - Sensory Processes and Perception
  • PSYC 222 - Psychobiology of Emotion
  • PSYC 303 - Laboratory in Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 305 - Human Psychophysiology

Any student, regardless of major or minor, can pursue a Cognitive Sciences Concentration. The Cognitive Sciences Concentration does not substitute for a major or minor. Its completion will be noted on the student's final transcript along with majors, minors, and Honors. No course with a grade below C-/CR/P may be used for the Cognitive Sciences Concentration. Students wishing to pursue the concentration should consult with one of the faculty members of the Cognitive Sciences Concentration Curricular Committee: Michael Loose, Chair (Neuroscience), Al Porterfield (Psychology), Joy Hanna (Psychology), Martin Thomson-Jones (Philosophy), and Richard Salter (Computer Science).

*Download Declaration of Cognitive Science Concentration Form