COGS200 Spring 2017

COGS 200: Learning: Brain and behavior
Spring 2017
Cog Sci Bldg Room 003
Instructor of record: Sarah C. Creel

A major question in cognition is how organisms acquire new information. This COGS 200 considers learning across modalities, species, and paradigms, with an eye toward uncovering common principles, areas of divergence, and areas ripe for investigation. Talks will be delivered by experts from the UCSD community (see below).

Questions we will consider include:

  • How much does what you know shape what you can learn?
  • What is/are direction[s] of causality between brain changes and memory encoding?
  • How much time and exposure does it take to achieve “mature” processing?

Each week, we will read 2 papers from the week’s guest speaker. Grading is based on weekly submission of questions on the readings; discussion participation; and a final research proposal.
Course meetings:
2:00-2:50         Discussion of readings
3:00-4:30         Lecture followed by Q&A
Course Schedule:

Date Speaker Topic
4/7/17 Intro/organization
4/14/17 Sarah Creel Protracted learning in spoken language
Creel&Quam2015     Creel in press
4/21/17 Karen Dobkins Deafness and brain plasticity
Bosworth&Dobkins1999    Finneyetal2001
4/28/17 Frank Haist Brain development and face perception
Haist-2015      Schmithorst-2014
5/5/17 Anthropogeny event Extraordinary variations of the human mind @ Salk Institute (register now!)
5/12/17 Zhuowen Tu Deep learning and image recognition
LeCunetal2015  Silveretal2016
5/19/17 Rachel Mayberry Late L1 learning
Mayberry et al_under-review_pwd Mayberry,Chen,Witcher&Klein_B&L_2011
5/26/17 Christine Smith Learning in hippocampal patients
Smith et al 2014 Smith_and_Squire_2009
6/2/17 Lara Rangel Learning in new hippocampal neurons
Rangel et al 2014
6/9/17 Hal Pashler Distributed learning; testing effects


Attendance and participation – Students are required to attend all classes unless special arrangements are made with the course instructor ahead of time. Students are expected to engage in the 2-3pm class discussion of the required readings.


Discussion questions – To aid in completion of the assigned readings, students are required to turn in 1-2 questions for each assigned reading. We will use Google Drive to share questions with the class and with guest speakers. Questions are due each Thursday evening before the Friday class.

Final paper – Students will submit a ten-page research proposal on some topic within the domain of learning. At least 3 papers from class should be cited in the proposal.

Draft due: Friday of Week 8

Final paper due: Monday of exam week (6/12) via email, unless the student makes alternate arrangements with the course instructor.



Students have the option of taking the course as satisfactory/unsatisfactory, or for a letter grade. To obtain a satisfactory rating, students must submit weekly discussion questions and must have a good attendance record. For a letter grade, students will additionally submit a final paper (see above).


Points Grade Composition
50 Discussion questions
20 Attendance and participation
30 Final paper
100 Total Points


Grade Rubric

(letter grade students)
A 92-above C 73-77
A- 90-91 C- 70-72
B+ 88-89 D+ 68-69
B 83-87 D 63-67
B- 80-82 D- 60-62
C+ 78-79 F 59-below