Why study Cognitive Science?

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I initially began my college career as a Chemical Engineering major at Manhattan College. Unfortunately I found this pursuit incredibly boring and switched to Mathematics, eventually finding myself at SUNY Oswego. After one semester I felt the same disinterest studying Mathematics ( though I now try to forget this) and ended up in my advisor’s office thinking, maybe psychology? I had taken an artificial psychology course while at Manhattan to fill a requirement, and remembered having little mind blowing moments of realization regarding the complexities of cognitive processes. I was not even aware Cognitive Science was a major at Oswego; thankfully my math advisor left his office for a moment and returned with Professor Vampola, who then introduced me to the field. I was immediately fascinated with cognitive science, but was not really feeling college anymore. I left school and began working as a medical scribe. Thankfully, this put me in an incredible learning environment. Working side by side with an ER physician I learned something new every day, and became eager to return to school. Seeing first hand how new research elicited new ideas and changes in practice in the medical field just over the course of a few years made me wonder what I was missing in the field of cognitive science.

I returned to SUNY Oswego full time last year and could not be happier with my decision. Cognitive Science ties together so many fields of study and yet seamlessly integrates theories from one subject into another. No course in this major has been an outlier; every single one has furthered my understanding of a subject while either contributing to knowledge gained in other classes or helping to prepare for concepts of future ones. And the topics! Honestly, after the first few classes in COG 166 I was in a daze, spending a considerable time thinking I don’t know where consciousness comes from, I don’t even know how I perceive things.blownmind

I have developed great interests in language processing, and found a love for computer programming I never expected. In pursuing this major I quickly regained my love of math and then strengthened it exponentially. It seems as if every topic I study there is some practical application of math; including natural language processing and computer programming, as well as other cognitive processes such as perception and visual motor skills.  

Currently, I am particularly interested in studying cognition from a dynamic systems perspective. I have always had a slight obsession with the concept of deterministic chaos; this obsession was intensified a few years ago after reading a paper by WJ Freeman that discussed how the spatial patterns in EEG recordings of rabbit olfactory bulbs for novel odors demonstrated chaotic behavior. I can’t seem to find a free version of that paper now, but you can find a brief description of it here, along with some other information on chaos theory and contributions of WJ Freeman. I hope to apply this perspective to many other topics in the near future.

I think the thing I love most about Cognitive Science is that there is still so much uncharted territory to explore, so much unknown. It is exciting to be involved in a field of study that is rapidly developing, with such compelling topics. I don’t anticipate that I will ever be bored in this field.

 

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