Psyc612: Graduate Cognitive
Fall 13

Instructor: Dr. Matt Rossano
Office Hrs: 2-3:30 MW; 8:50-10:50, 1:45-3:15 TTh
Office: SE 219
Phone: 985-351-3663 email: (note: all email communications should be done using your official university email address.)
Getting in touch with me: email is by far the best way to get in touch with me.

The rise of Homo sapiens (2009) F. L. Coolidge and T. Wynn, Wiley
Readings to be found on webpage:
From: Platek, S. M., Keenan, J. P., & Shackelford, T. K. (2007). Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience. MIT Press: Cambridge MA.

Chapter 1: Goetz, A. T., & Shackelford, T. K. Introduction to evolutionary theory and its modern application to human behavior and cognition (pp. 1-20).

Chapter 2: Dunbar, R.I.M Brain and cognition in evolutionary perspective (pp. 21-46)

Chapter 14: Corballis, M. C. The evolution of language: From hand to mouth (pp. 403-429)

Chapter 15: Santos, L. R., Flombaum, J. I., & Phillips, W. The evolution of human mind-reading: How nonhuman primates can inform social cognitive neuroscience (pp. 433-456)

Chapter 16: Focquaert, F., & Platek, S.M. Social cognition and the evolution of self-awareness (pp. 457-497).

From: Tommasi, L., Peterson, M. A., & Nadel, L. (2009). Cognitive biology: Evolutionary and Developmental Perspectives on mind, brain and behavior. MIT Press: Cambridge MA.

Chapter 8: Dukas, R. Evolutionary biology of limited attention (pp. 147-161).

Chapter 9: Goldstone, R. L., Gerganov, A., Landry, D. & Roberts, M. E. Learning to see and conceive (pp. 163-188).

Chapter 15: Johnson, M. H. The human social brain: An “evo-devo” perspective (pp. 309-319).

Chapter 16: Sirois, S. & Karmiloff-Smith, A. Ontogenetic development matters (pp. 312-334).

Also: Fitch, W. T. (2011). Unity and diversity in human language. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Soceity, B, 366, 376-388.

Overview: The course will examine current issues in cognitive neuroscience and the evolution of the modern human mind. Special emphasis will be placed on some of the latest findings in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. We will look at what we know currently about the brain basis of cognition based on both neuroscience/brain imaging research and on more traditional cognitive psychology research. Furthermore, we will examine the evolutionary origins of the human brain/mind in an attempt to answer the question: what is a big brain for anyway?

There will be three tests and a comprehensive final. Tests will be between 50-70 pts, the final will be around 80pts. Each will be a combination of multiple choice and short answer essay. You will need to bring scantrons, number 2 pencils and pen and paper on test days.

Grades: Grades will be based on a straight ten percentage point scale. 90% and above for A; 80% for B, 70% for C. All test scores and presentation scores will be posted on Moodle.

Make-up tests: See Psychology Department Information Sheet (posted on our webpage).  As noted on that sheet, make-up tests are given on in White Hall, Room 208. My make-up tests consists of 5 essay questions that must be answered within a one hour time period. Most students would prefer to not to have to take this type of a test, therefore I encourage you to take the tests when they are scheduled.
    To take a make-up you must inform me beforehand that you are going to miss a test or you must contact me promptly after the missed test.  By "promptly" I mean by the next class meeting. So, for example, if we have a test scheduled for Monday at 12:30, then you have until Weds 12:30 to contact me. You may see me personally, or you may call, fax (549-3892) or email (which is best). One way or another I must hear from you by the next class meeting or I will not allow a make-up.  Look folks, you can save us both a world of pain if you just show up when you are supposed to and take the tests.

Attendance: is required for all classes.  Roll will be taken as is required by university policy, however, the instructor will not drop anyone for non-attendace.  If you wish to drop the class you must do so yourself.

Children in the classroom: By university policy children are not permitted in the classrom. Students are not to bring family members for day care or babysitting.

Students agree by taking this course that all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity to for the detection of plagiarism.  All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers.  Use of the of service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the website.

Classroom Decorum
No behavior that interferes with the ability of the instructor to teach or students to benefit from that instruction will be tolerated.  Disruptive, disorderly, or uncivil behavior will be not be permitted.  No beepers, cell phones, or other noise-making electronic devices are allowed in class without prior explicit permission of the instructor!

Important Dates:

Sept. 16 Last day to apply for graduation without late fee.
Sept. 27 Term I classes: Last day to withdraw from classes. Deadline at 12:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 Regular classes: Last day to withdraw or resign from the University. Deadline at 12:30 p.m.

 Nov. 20 Term II classes: Last day to withdraw from classes. Deadline at 5:00 p.m. 

Disabled students: If you are a qualified student with a disability seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are required to self-identify with the Office of Disability Services Room 117 Mims Hall. No accommodations will be granted without documentation from the office of disability services.

Course Outline
ECN=Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience
CB=Cognitive Biology
RHS=Rise of Homo Sapiens





Intro to Cogn Neuroscience


ECN 1, 2

Intro to EP; Brain and Cognition


ECN 14,15

Language and TOM


ECN 16, BC 8

Self awareness and attention


BC 9, 15

Vision and evo-devo


BC 16, Fitch article

Ontogeny, evo of language

*off 9/2 for Labor Day
Weds. 9/25 Test 1 ECN and BC chapters and language article




9/30, 10/2

RHS intro,2




working memory



Evolution of the brain




Monday 10/28 Test 2 Chapters 1-5 






early hominins

Homo erectus



first cognitive leap



Homo Heidelbergensis

Weds. 11/20 Test 3 Chapters 6-9 (Note: chapter 10 will be covered on final, not test 3!).  




RHS 10


RHS 11

Homo sapiens

*off 11/27 for Thanksgiving
Final exam is: Thurs. Dec. 12 at 10:15-12:15