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Unique Areas of Excellence:
Institute of Cognitive Science
The UL Lafayette Institute of Cognitive Science was approved by the University of Louisiana System and the Louisiana Board of Regents in 1999, and its first group of doctoral students arrived in the Fall of the same year. The Institute of Cognitive Science's areas of research span cognitive phenomena across humans, animals, and machines, and include, in particular, the following emphases: cognitive development, comparative cognition in humans and non-human primates, attention and learning in humans, creativity in humans and machines, human learning and memory, philosophy of mind, philosophy of cognitive science, adaptive processes in humans and machines, and theoretical and computer-based approaches to cognition. The external, blue-ribbon panel assembled by the Regents to review the UL Lafayette proposal, faculty, and facilities began its evaluation with the following observation: "The proposed program is unique among Cognitive Science programs. The attempt to study cognition in primates, human children and adults, humans with cognitive disorders, and in machines has the potential for making a major contribution to our understanding of intelligence as realized in these various forms." The report concluded with a stunning affirmation: the program possesses "a solid possibility that it may become a world center of cognitive science."

The Institute faculty is drawn from psychology, philosophy, biology, computer science, computer engineering, and communicative disorders. All are highly published in the field and hold degrees from a diverse range of institutions, including MIT, UCSD, Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan, SUNY-Buffalo, Tulane University, Rice University, University of Alberta, Harvard University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, University of Illinois, LSU, University of Texas at Austin, among others.

The Institute's faculty include Claudia Uller (cognitive development, comparative cognition), Claude Cech (learning and memory), Cheryl Lynch (endocrinology, neuroscience), Don Dedrick (philosophy of mind), Istvan Berkeley (neural networks and philosophy of mind), Mike Kalish (attention and learning), Robert Jaeger (behavioral ecology), and Tony Maida (computational neuroscience). It is directed by Subrata Dasgupta, Ph.D., University of Alberta, 1976. Subrata Dasgupta holds the Eminent Scholar Chair in Computer Science in the Institute, and also has professorial appointments in the Center for Advanced Computer Studies and the Department of History. His work focuses on the cognitive and historical nature of creativity, especially in science, art, technology and literary scholarship. His publications include Creativity in Invention and Design (Cambridge University Press, 1994), Technology and Creativity (Oxford University Press, 1996) and Jagadis Chandra Bose and the Indian Response to Western Science (Oxford University Press, 1999).

In 2000, the Institute of Cognitive Science was selected, in a statewide competition sponsored by the Board of Regents, to receive a Departmental Excellence through Faculty Excellence (DEFE) grant for enhancement of faculty salaries. In unique synergy with the Institute, the University's Doris B. Hawthorne Center for Special Education and Communicative Disorders offers applied semiotic theory and advanced instrumentation to explore physiological, socio-behavioral topics such as aphasia, dyslexia, and autism - all of special interest in the domain of cognitive science. In 2000, the Communicative Disorders Department was also selected to receive a Departmental Excellence through Faculty Excellence (DEFE) grant for enhancement of faculty salaries.

The Institute calls on extensive facilities and laboratories: the New Iberia Research Center with 4,700 primates (including the world's second largest colony of chimpanzees), the Cognitive Development Laboratory, the Comparative Cognition Laboratory, the Adaptive Processes Laboratory, the Creativity and Cognition Project, the Artificial Neural Network Analysis Project, and the Cognitive and Discourse Processes Laboratory. These facilities are backed by a broad collection of journals and monographs housed in the University's Dupré Library. Exchange of knowledge happens within the Institute and with the interaction with other institutions through visiting colleagues; there is also, in the words of the external reviewers, "a very vigorous Cognitive Science Colloquium Series", a regular seminar that focuses on cross-disciplinary interaction.

Students have applied to enter the Ph.D. program in Cognitive Science from Stanford University, Florida Atlantic University, California Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, University College London, University of Rochester, University of Essex (U.K.), UCSD, Louisiana State University, Cairo University, and UL Lafayette.

Document last revised Monday, October 27, 2003 5:15 PM

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