since 1965  (really?)

BROCA (Berkeley Review of CogSci Articles)

This course listing applies to a Spring 2012 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Spring 2012
CogSci 98/198
2 Unit(s)



About the Course:

Course Overview

Who: Anyone interested in Cognitive Science, Psychology, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Artificial Intelligence, Linguistics, or the Social Sciences is encouraged to take this class. BROCA is designed for students interested and somewhat familiar with the interdisciplinary field of Cognitive Science and the many disciplines that it encompasses. So we recommend that you have taken CogSci 1 or a few other CogSci classes before signing up for this course to ensure that you have a basic understanding of the material that we will be looking at. By the end of the semester, you will be able to critically read, understand and discuss exciting Cognitive Science research including work on Brain-Computer Interfaces, Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Anthropology, Language and Thought, Embodied Cognition, Human Memory, Neuroeconomics and more!


What & Why: Cognitive Science is one of the last remaining frontiers of science, and new interdisciplinary research that revolutionizes our understanding of the brain and mind is being published constantly. Because Cognitive Science is such a “hot” field, it is imperative for those interested in Cognitive Science to stay up-to-date on newly published research. The Berkeley Review of CogSci Articles (BROCA) is intended to assist students in finding, understanding, analyzing, and discussing fascinating cutting-edge research. The papers we discuss will be selected and presented by professors, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students who are involved in Cognitive Science research from UC Berkeley and beyond.


When: Thursday 5-7 PM (Starting February 2, 2012)


Where: 87 Evans (


How: The first class will include an overview of the course and a facilitator presentation on how to critically read and analyze a research article. The next class will include a presentation on research statistics to help students better interpret the results presented in Cognitive Science articles.

Each week after that, students will be assigned a paper that was selected by a guest speaker to read for the next class session. Each student will be responsible for reading the paper and completing a forum posting due before class on the course’s bSpace page. The forum posting should include at least two questions and one comment or observation about the reading. This response should demonstrate critical thinking and careful examination of the article. Responses will be checked by a facilitator and are required to pass the course. Be sure to remember your questions and comments so you can contribute to the group discussion during class.

Class will begin with an overview of the paper and relevant scientific concepts led by a facilitator. Following this, a guest speaker will come in and facilitate a review, critical discussion, and analysis of the article with the class. This will include an opportunity for students to ask questions to the guest facilitator about the article, his or her own research interests, etc.

After class, students will be required to post another response on the bSpace forum. This posting should include two new facts which they learned from the discussion and the answers to the questions they had posted before. These will be due before the beginning of the following class.

Towards the end of the semester, students will be required to give a short presentation to the class on a Cognitive Science article of their choice. Students can work in pairs or by themselves. Each group will be required to research and choose a peer-reviewed article of interest. After a facilitator approves the article, each group will carefully read and analyze the article and create a presentation based on the article. The presentation will have two components. The first component will be a summary of the article. The summary should explicitly state the article’s hypotheses, predictions, methods and results. The summary should also mention how the research ties into our current understanding of a topic in Cognitive Science. For example, you could say that the paper explores the use of a new experimental paradigm, provides evidence against a commonly-held belief or asks a question that has not been carefully explored in a scientific way before. The second component will be a critical analysis of the research methods. The critique does not have to find errors within the article. It should, however, describe whether the experiment was a valid test of the paper’s hypothesis (e.g., Does a premotor potential preceding the reporting of a conscious intention really mean we lack free will? No because…). You should also look at the data by itself and see if you can find any alternate interpretations of or explanations for the data. Lastly, you should propose a follow-up experiment that would answer any remaining questions. Each presentation should take around ten minutes and will be followed by a quick Q&A session.

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course, students should be:
•    Able to read scientific articles in the interdisciplinary fields composing Cognitive Science
•    Familiar with research techniques, experimental designs, and methods
•    Able to thoughtfully critique scientific articles
•    Better informed about the process of scientific inquiry and the role of science in society
•    Comfortable discussing cutting-edge research with their professors, peers and others
•    Ready to create and deliver a presentation about a scientific experiment to an audience


Requirements and Grading:

Grades will be based on attendance, participation in discussions, completion of responses and the presentation. Since this is a discussion-based class, only two absences are permitted in a semester. Extra absences can be made up by completing a 2 page (double spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point font) summary of the article discussed during the class which a student missed.


Grading Breakdown:

Attendance: 50%

Forum Postings: 20%

Research Presentation (required to pass the class): 30%


Reviews From Former Students:

- "I really enjoyed the collaborative atmosphere. I felt a lot closer to my fellow Cog Sci students than I have in any other class. The student-led presentations were much more interesting than I expected. I really appreciated the diversity of research presented."


- "The best part of this class was hearing from all of the CogSci researchers from various fields, asking them questions and getting awesome answers in person. It was cool to have a class full of people with different backgrounds and specialties, a chance for CogSci people to integrate better. Doing the presentations was also cool because they were all so different and interesting."


- "The speakers were definitely the highlight. It was great that you guys got them to come in and talk about their respective articles. It was nice to have them be able to explain their thought processes [concerning] the research."

How to Enroll:

Anyone is welcome to attend BROCA, but seats will be given with priority to upperdivison Cognitive Science majors.  CCN's will be emailed to students once they come to class and sign in.

Course Contact: poruz AT

Faculty Sponsor: Terry Regier

Time & Location:

BROCAPoruz Khambatta
3587 EvansTh 5p-7p2/02started

Uploaded Files:

Syllabus: BROCA Syllabus Spring 2012.pdfFeb 1316kbAdobe PDF (Viewer)View Download

Course info last modified February 3, 2012. This page has been viewed 1730 times.

Could not update hit count.

Table './decalwebsite/d_coursevisitors' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed