Last Update: 8 December 2012
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Center in Context,
by Len Talmy, Director Emeritus
for Cognitive Science is the representation on the University
at Buffalo campus of an academic and private-sector movement,
named "cognitive science", that has been expanding
over the last two decades both in the U.S. and abroad. The
aim of this development is to investigate the nature of cognition,
i.e., of intellective processes as exhibited either by the
human mind or by computer. Most centrally, cognitive science
is the study of how the mind works, both in its conceptual
organization and in its computational and neural infrastructure.
Accordingly, cognitive science has brought together researchers
from a number of traditionally separate disciplines -- primarily,
computer science, psychology,
, and neuroscience
-- in order to build a new and unified understanding of cognition
that is compounded from the different disciplinary perspectives
and that moves beyond them.
In doing so,
cognitive science has also been manifesting what has been a
change in the direction of research in the social and behavioral
sciences in this country: where previously the movement had
been toward ever finer disciplinary distinctions, there is
now the reverse dynamic toward an integration of the disciplines
into a unified understanding.
Each of the
disciplines within the social, behavioral, and computer sciences
includes certain research areas that pertain directly to cognition
alongside many other research areas that do not. Cognitive
science in general and the Center for Cognitive Science here
in particular have promoted the development of the cognitive
portions of the different disciplines by bringing them together
across traditional boundaries. Consequently, a major contribution
of the Center here has been the promotion of research into
the nature of mind in a way that would not be possible if the different
approaches to this issue had remained isolated within unrelated
goal of the Center is to promote the development of research
networks and of new research activities in cognitive science, both
locally and across institutions. To do this, the Center engages
in a number of activities:
colloquia, discussions, workshops, and
conferences that bring together both members of the campus and
invited visitors working on cutting-edge issues in cognitive
It helps to
establish novel cross-disciplinary linkups among faculty and students
that may result in research projects
and grant proposals
, and it serves as an umbrella for several ongoing active
both an undergraduate
major leading to a B.A. in Cognitive Science and a program of
graduate tracks in cognitive
a Graduate Student Association for Cognitive Science, composed
of students from different departments who meet to discuss
current cross-disciplinary issues.
report series and has arranged exchanges of this series with
comparable cognitive science series from other institutions.
a central meeting place -- including a library and conference
that serves as a nexus for cross-disciplinary study and communication.
And it has been
developing an atmosphere of community and perhaps an air of
excitement, that conduce to productive interactions.
A second long-term
goal of the Center is the development of an academic curriculum
in cognitive science.
A parallel objective,
one that has already begun to be realized, is to attract to
the affiliated UB departments a still higher caliber of students,
drawn by the intellectual appeal of the Center. The international
caché that the Summer
Institute in Cognitive Science and
its surrounding publicity has brought to UB can be expected
to continue the uptrend in the caliber of students attracted
And a third
long-term goal is to develop for the UB Center an international
reputation as a major research center in cognitive science.
Our main endeavor
to that end has been the organizing of the first international
Summer Institute in Cognitive Science, which took place at UB
throughout the month of July, 1994.
top names in Cognitive Science-related fields took part as plenary
Institute were some four hundred registrants, coming from
thirty-two different countries.
Apart from the
Institute, reports by our CogSci faculty members on what they
have heard from others at outside conferences, as well as items
in electronic news groups, indicate that the Center's reputation
as a progressive and intellectually active cognitive science
center has been steadily rising.
Word of the
Center is in part carried by visiting speakers who come away
impressed with our engagement with their ideas.
Further, a number
of individuals around the country receive our e-mail announcements
produced brochure and poster further outside familiarity with
the Center has begun to gain a presence in the local Buffalo
community with our Distinguished
The speaker in Spring 2010 was
Jeff Elman, Dean, Division of Social Science;
Co-Director, Kavli Institute for Brain & Mind;
Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science;
Chancellor's Associates Endowed Chair; and
University of California, San Diego.
Other speakers so far have been: Dedre Gentner; Eve
Deacon , John Searle, Noam
Schank, and Michael
Belorussian translation at PC
and at fatcow.com