Artificial Intelligence, track Cognitive Processing (‘the human system as a model for intelligence’)

The new research master in AI has a special track in Cognitive Processing. This track is intended for students with a keen interest in both theoretical and experimental aspects of Cognitive Science research, who have completed a bachelor degree in areas pertinent to the study of cognition and language, especially in psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, computer science or philosophy.

This master track predominantly focuses on language and perception. Both these themes are crucial for understanding human intelligence and how we explore our daily environment. To emulate visual perception or conversation abilities in intelligent systems, we need to understand how humans perceive the world and talk about it. Because the techniques to study language and perception are used throughout the field of Cognitive Science, this track provides students with the skills, experience and knowledge necessary for a wide variety of current research on human cognition.


Year 1, quarter 1: Methods in AI/Cognitive Processing (5 ECTS)

The Methods in AI course (15 ECTS) gives a broad advanced introduction to AI research. Part of the course (5 ECTS) is devoted to Cognitive Processing. By drawing on examples from representative topics in human perception and language, the course will teach experimental techniques needed for research in Cognitive Science, as well as theoretical background on the studied areas:

– Psychophysics of the visual system

– Methods in language processing research

– Neurophysiological methods (EEG, TMS, eye movement recording, single cell recordings, fMRI)

– Experimental design

– Basic statistics

10 lectures, 3 assignments (write a review, perform a small-scale experiment and write a short report, homework)

Lecturers 2013/14: Johannes Fahrenfort, Sergey Avrutin


Year 1, quarter 2: Cognitive Systems

 This course covers models of perception in Cognitive Science building on the knowledge that was acquired during the first quarter. Topics include:

– The attentional system: bottom-up versus top-down attention; space-based, object-based and feature-based attention.

– The visual system: modularity of the visual system, its functional specialization, receptive field properties across the visual system, the binding problem

– The perceptual system: algorithms and models in perceptual organization: feature detection, object detection, object categorization, figure-ground segregation and image segmentation, perceptual grouping.

– The motor system: hand and eye movements

– The somatosensory system: haptics, touch, proprioception

– The multisensory system: multisensory integration and the study of audition

– The conscious system: what is it and how can it be studied?

Lab work: Hands on experience with the techniques introduced in ‘Methods in AI research’. The analysis of the lab work results will be based on the material taught in class. Students will learn how to use Matlab to analyze fMRI and EEG data and program simple behavioral experiments.

Lecturer 2013/14: Johannes Fahrenfort


Year 1, quarter 3: Linguistic Modeling and Experimental Research

The course will show the interaction between theoretical linguistic research and on-going experimental work on sound, structure and meaning of natural languages.  We will go over a selection of topics in this area and discuss recent theoretical and experimental results. As part of the course work, students will design a small scale experiment, corpus survey or linguistic questionnaire, and report their results and conclusions in class presentations.

Course topics:

– Word processing and theories of phonological and morphological structure

– Sentence processing and syntactic theory: garden path sentences, center embedding, grammar learning

– Concepts, word meaning and the mental lexicon

– Processing of meaning and the principle of compositionality

– Experimental pragmatics: presuppositions and implicatures

Lecturer 2013/14: Rick Nouwen


Year 1, quarter 3: Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science

This seminar will give an overview of recent research in Cognitive Science. After an introduction lecture, different guest teachers will introduce their recent research in Cognitive Science. In separate workshop sessions, students will present their own research ideas based on recent papers that will be provided. Both the lectures and the workshop sessions will cover a variety of topics in Experimental Psychology and Experimental Linguistics.

Coordinators 2013/14: Stefan van der Stigchel, Yoad Winter

Lectures in/workshops 2013/14:

Experimental Psychology: Paffen, van der Stigchel, van der Smagt, Postma, Dumoulin, Fahrenfort, Dijkerman, Hogendoorn, Bolhuis, Erkelens

Linguistics: Avrutin, Chen, De Swart, Kager, Nouwen, Quené, Van Berkum, Wijnen, Winter, Zwarts


For more information on the AI master program, see: