This course introduces you to the field of comparative cognition, a discipline focused on understanding cognitive mechanisms shared across species such as learning, memory, and attention. Emphasis will be placed on the evolved cognitive traits of mammals including, but not limited to, primates, canines, and rodents. Important theories describing the evolution of cognition will be discussed alongside tests for investigating them. Specific topics include associative learning, spatial and abstract cognition, social behavior, and human uniqueness.
In this flipped classroom, you will have to opportunity to discuss these fascinating topics with your peers and as a team build the skills needed to analyze studies of animal psychology. Discussions will be informed by scientific and pop-science articles, behavioral videos, and possible guest lectures/tours of research conducted at Brown.
By the end of this course, you will be able to:
• Interpret scientific experiments and place results in broader theories of cognition
• Understand foundational knowledge of key topics
• Debate experimental findings from opposing viewpoints of cognitive evolution
• Compare intelligence across species based on cognition and ecological relevance
• Critically evaluate claims about animal behavior in media from a scientific perspective
At the conclusion of this course, you will gain a fundamental understanding of comparative cognition, a field typically reserved for senior college students. This exposure will be advantageous to those who want to pursue these topics at the collegiate level as well as inform your general knowledge on behavior you observe in everyday life. Crucially, this course will give you a deeper appreciation for animals' cognitive ability and survival.
No prior knowledge is required for this course. While knowledge on introductory psychology is helpful, students only need a desire to learn about animal cognition and scientific methodology.
Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.