Welcome to Cognitive Science

The Cognitive Science Program at the University of Arizona was established in 1986. Cognitive Science is the interdisciplinary study of the mind, encompasses the study of intelligent behavior as well as the brain mechanisms and computations underlying that behavior.  The field is at the intersection of several other disciplines, including philosophy (knowledge representation, logic), psychology (basic human cognition, perception and performance), computer science (computational theory, artificial intelligence and robotics), linguistics (theories of language structure) and cognitive neuroscience (brain mechanisms for intelligent behavior).  It is a model interdisciplinary program. Typical research areas of cognitive science include judgment and decision making, language comprehension and production, language acquisition, visual recognition of objects and events, attention, learning and memory, goal directed movement in complex environments and consciousness. 

The Cognitive Science Program maintains strong links with the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, a unique research center focusing on interdisciplinary study of consciousness and neighboring phenomena such as perception, emotion and self-consciousness.


Cognitive Science Program Faculty

Faculty with appointments in the Cognitive Science Program are listed below. All hold primary appointments in traditional departments; their home departments are listed in parentheses following their name.

Jessica Andrews-Hanna (Psychology)

Andrew Barss (Linguistics)

LouAnn Gerken (Psychology)

Tzu Yin (Vicky) Lai (Psychology)

Janet Nicol (Linguistics)

Mary A. Peterson (Psychology)

Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (Linguistics)

Robert C. Wilson (Psychology)

Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Faculty Members

The faculty members listed above joined by more than 50 faculty from 13 departments constitute the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Science. Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs at the University of Arizona cut across traditional departmental boundaries to facilitate cutting edge interdisciplinary teaching and research (http://gidp.arizona.edu/).

For a listing of the faculty members in the Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, please click on the Faculty tab above.  For a listing of the members of the Cognitive Science Executive Committee, please click on the GIDP Exec Comm tab above.

Mary A. Peterson (Professor of Psychology and of Cognitive Science) is the Director of the Cognitive Science Program and the Chair of the Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program.  During the Spring 2017 semester, Dr. Peterson is on sabbatical.  Janet L. Nicol (Professor of Linguistics) is the Interim Director (January 9 - June 30, 2017).

The Cognitive Science Program and the Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program are two of the five units in the School of Mind, Brain and Behavior (http://web.mbb.arizona.edu/ ) in the College of Science (http://cos.arizona.edu/) at the University of Arizona. The other units are the Neuroscience Department, the Psychology Department, the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Department, and the Neuroscience Graduate Interdisciplinary Program. The School of Mind, Brain, and Behavior is the home for an integrated cohort of disciplines at the University of Arizona that endeavor to solve the mysteries of the mind and address a host of issues essential to mankind. 


Cognitive Science offers two academic programs: An undergraduate major and a graduate minor.

  1. The undergraduate major in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NSCS) was developed and implemented in collaboration with the other units in the School of Mind, Brain and Behavior.

The NSCS curriculum provides a common set of core courses and two tracks—one in cognitive science and one in neuroscience, thereby ensuring that NSCS majors will have the tools to understand and collaborate with scientists in a variety of disciplines that study the mind, brain, and behavior.  The NSCS major is timely: bridging among disciplines is the new frontier. 

For information about the undergraduate major in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, click on the Undergrad Major tab above.

  1. A Graduate Minor in Cognitive Science offered by the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program.  

Graduate students with an interest in Cognitive Science must be admitted to the University of Arizona through a department that offers a Ph.D. Major. (There is no restriction on students' home departments.) Once admitted to the University of Arizona, graduate students are encouraged to express their interest in completing a graduate minor in Cognitive Science by contacting the Director of the Cognitive Science Program. Interested students are welcome; there isn't a separate admission process.

For information about the graduate minor in Cognitive Science, click on the Graduate Minor tab above. For a list of graduate students currently minoring in Cognitive Science, click on the Graduate Students tab above.


Members of the Cognitive Science community come together weekly to attend the Cognitive Science Colloquium, a series of invited seminars on Cognitive Science topics. For a listing of colloquia and other events of interest to the Cognitive Science Community, click on the Events tab above.