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Metaphors for grad school

The broad nature of Cognitive Science means that the research in our department is incredibly diverse. (more)

Miller, L.E, Longo, M.R., Saygin, A.P. (2014). Tool morphology constrains the effects of tool use on body representations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. In press.
What factors constrain whether tool use modulates the user's body representations? To date, studies on representational plasticity following tool use have primarily focused on the act of using the tool. Here, we investigated whether the tool's morphology also serves to constrain plasticity. In 2 experiments, we varied whether the tool was morphologically similar to a target body part (Experiment 1, hand; Experiment 2, arm). Participants judged the tactile distance between pairs of points applied to their tool-using target body surface and forehead (control surface) before and after tool use. We applied touch in 2 orientations, allowing us to quantify how tool use modulates the representation's shape. Significant representational plasticity in hand shape (increase in width, decrease in length) was found when the tool was morphologically similar to a hand (Experiment 1A), but not when the tool was arm-shaped (Experiment 1B). Conversely, significant representational plasticity was found on the arm when the tool was arm-shaped (Experiment 2B), but not when hand-shaped (Experiment 2A). Taken together, our results indicate that morphological similarity between the tool and the effector constrains tool-induced representational plasticity. The embodiment of tools may thus depend on a match-to-template process between tool morphology and representation of the body.
Wang B., Mezlini A. M., Demir F., Fiume M., Tu Z., Brudno M., Haibe-Kains B., Goldenberg A. (2014). Similarity Network Fusion for Aggregating Data Types on a Genomic Scale. Nature Methods, Jan. 26.
recent technologies have made it cost-effective to collect diverse types of genome-wide data. computational methods are needed to combine these data to create a comprehensive view of a given disease or a biological process. similarity network fusion (snF) solves this problem by constructing networks of samples (e.g., patients) for each available data type and then efficiently fusing these into one network that represents the full spectrum of underlying data. For example, to create a comprehensive view of a disease given a cohort of patients, snF computes and fuses patient similarity networks obtained from each of their data types separately, taking advantage of the complementarity in the data. We used snF to combine mrnA expression, dnA methylation and micrornA (mirnA) expression data for five cancer data sets. snF substantially outperforms single data type analysis and established integrative approaches when identifying cancer subtypes and is effective for predicting survival.

Featured Classes
Fall 2014:
  • COGS9: Introduction to Data Science
    Concepts of data and its role in science will be introduced, as well as the ideas behind data-mining, text-mining, machine learning, and graph theory and how scientists and companies are leveraging those methods to uncover new insights into human cognition.
  • COGS160: Cognitive Ethnomusicology
    Music is ubiquitously present in human culture. As much as it is ubiquitous, music is diverse in both form and usage. From sacred ritual to war, music is a component of many human activities. Free from the semantic necessities of language, music is constrained only by the aesthetics of those making it. Ethnomusicology seeks to understand music in its cultural context--how and why people make the specific types of music they do. Cognitive ethnomusicology takes a broad approach to the study of musical culture, perception, and processing. The course will explore fundamental components of musical behavior, such as synchronized rhythm or the use of visual symbols to enhance recall of musical ideas, while also exploring specific genres or styles of music that have unique characteristics, such as the timbre-melodies of Tuvan vocal music or the complex rhythmic patterns of Carnatic Mrdangam playing.
  • COGS219: Prog. for Behavioral Sci.
    Students learn how to use Matlab and the Psychophysics toolbox for experimental research in cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics and related fields… Topics include stimulus presentation, response collection, analyzing and displaying data. Programming is an applied skill; like playing an instrument or a sport, it needs to be practiced. COGS219 provides information, support, motivation, structure, and "coaching”. Students acquire skills they can apply at graduate school and beyond, feel more confident in their programming and research abilities, and develop code that can be adapted for research projects. For cognitive science students, 219 counts as a methods course; with professor approval, it can count as behavioral or computational issues course.
  • COGS160: Interaction Design Research
    Prepares students to conduct original HCI research by reading and discussing seminal and cutting-edge research papers. Topics include design, social software, input techniques, mobile, and ubiquitous computing. Student pairs perform a quarter-long mini research project that leverages campus research efforts. TuTh 3:30pm-4:50pm in CSE 2154. Prerequisites: (Cogs14a or CSE20) and (an A- or higher in Cogs120 or Cogs102C). Please contact Thanh Maxwell at for departmental approval.

Research Opportunities (199s)
  • Sound Recognition in Language
    The Language Acquisition & Sound Research lab is seeking enthusiastic, motivated, and reliable undergraduate research assistants to assist with a study. The study investigates how different people interpret sounds when processing language. Successful applicants will receive course credit and gain valuable experience with language research! Interested students should contact Prof. ...
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  • Motion simulation and the subjective direction of time
    It is often suggested that people make predictions about the world by simulating how the world might unfold, but considerably less is known about how people make retrodictions: inferring the past state of the world based on the present. The current research investigates the shared and differing cognitive processes underlying ...
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  • Entrepreneur Connect
    Help shape the future of entrepreneurship at UCSD. What is E-Connect? Part LinkedIn, part Kickstarter, UCSD Entrepreneur Connect (E-Connect) is the future for entrepreneurialminded students. Meet, share ideas, form teams, create - this is the aim of E-Connect. E-Connect is an idea. We need creative individuals looking to broaden their ...
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  • Brain Development and Cognitive Function in Children
    The Center for Human Development (CHD) at UCSD conducts research projects focusing on factors that influence developing minds and personalities. For example, researchers at the CHD ask questions like how and why do we become individuals? What role is played by our experiences? By our genes? How does developing behavior ...
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  • Brain Mechanisms Meditating Attentional Sets and Navigational Decisions
    Movement through the environment demands constant change in how we take in information (our attentional set) and how we use that information to make decisions. The Nitz laboratory studies this dynamic process at its core, by directly examining the neural substrates of attention and spatial cognition through multiple single neuron ...
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  • Language Development and Remediation in Children
    We are evaluating two interventions for dyslexia that involve training the temporal dynamics of the visual system (magnocellular pathway) and the auditory system, and whether the two interventions together have super-additive effects. As a Research Assistant, you would be traveling to one or two of five participating local elementary schools ...
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  • Dr. Edward Vul's Cognition and Inference Lab
    We study human cognition and decision making: how do people combine sparse information with their prior knowledge about the world to make decisions? And how do limitations of memory and attention influence this process? Different projects investigate these issues in different domains; examples include: visual attention, consumer behavior, intuitive reasoning, ...
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  • Cognitive Processes
    “Raednig thees wrods semes to be esaeir tahn you mgiht hvae tohuhgt; waht colud epxlian tihs?” Could you read the sentence above? Having any trouble understanding or recognizing these words? How possible it could be to understand such a sentence, with/without recognize words? What could you explain your effortless ability ...
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Recent News & Links (see all)

Jamie Alexandre is awarded a Chancellor's Dissertation Medal - 2014

The purpose of the Chancellor's Dissertation Medal is to recognize outstanding PhD research in one of six divisional 

Andrea Chiba, one of four UCSD Faculty to receive "Early Concept" grants from Obama's BRAIN Initiative

Andrea Chiba, associate professor of cognitive science, for “Socially Situated Neuroscience: Creating a Suite of Tools for Studying Sociality and Interoception.” “The “interoceptive” system is said to be a neural system that is critical to our physiological self-awareness and the feelings we share with others,” said Chiba.“This project aims to co-develop light, wireless, flexible recording sensors, an iRat (a robotic ‘animat’ with rat-like social behavior) and a set of experiments to interrogate the ‘interoceptive system’ by simultaneously examining physiological measures, neural activity and complex social behavior.” Primary researchers on the grant, in addition to Chiba, are Laleh Quinn, Todd Coleman and Marcelo Aguilar-Rivera of UC San Diego and Janet Wiles of the University of Queensland Australia.

UCSD Cognitive Science graduate receives modeling award at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society

Former graduate student Ben Cipollini received a modeling award and $1000 prize at the 36th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, for his work with Prof. Gary Cottrell on lateralization in visual processing.

Department Events (see all)

Sebastian Thrun (Design at Large talk)

Educating Millions Online - A Revolution?

Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity, will tell his story of accidentally creating an early MOOC, all the way to a mid-size company offering alternatives to college degrees to millions of online learners. Udacity focuses on education for jobs in the tech industry. Its content is built by leading Silicon Valley companies, like Cloudera, Facebook, and Google. Thrun will discuss a new style of pedagogy for learning on mobile devices, online services, and new ...
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Wed, Oct 1st, 4:00pm-5:00pm (Atkinson Hall Auditorium)
(1 week, 1 day from now)

Campus-wide Events (see all)

Garrison Cottrell (Dart NeuroScience & TDLC talk)

A single model explains both visual and auditory precortical coding
Precortical neural systems encode information collected by the senses, but the driving principles of the encoding used have remained a subject of debate. We present a model of retinal coding that is based on three constraints: information preservation, minimization of the neural wiring, and response equalization. The resulting novel version of sparse principal components analysis successfully captures a number of known characteristics of the retinal coding system, such as center-surround ...
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Wed, Sep 24th, 3:00pm-4:00pm (Sanford Consortium - Duane J. Roth Auditorium)
(1 day, 19 hours from now)

Massimo Scanziani (Salk talk)

Cortical Circuits of Vision

Massimo Scanziani
Professor of Neurobiology
University of California, San Diego

Host: Xin Jin

Contact: Nova Summers, 858-453-4100 x1615,

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Thu, Sep 25th, 4:00pm-5:00pm (Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Trustees Room)
(2 days, 20 hours from now)