Learning outcomes of the course unit
(I) Knowledge of contemporary cognitive neuroscience, and its theoretical basis.
(II) Proficiency in reading and understanding scientific papers
(III, IV, V) Competent and independent judgment
There are no prerequisites.
Course contents summary
The aim of the course is to introduce the student to Cognitive Neuroscience, and to the philosophical debate related to this topic.
The course will supply conceptual tools aimed at the comprehension of contemporary neuroscience (including an introduction to the techniques employed in the study of the cognitive processes), and an introduction to the history of neuroscience and philosophical psychology.
Particular attention will be paid to recent neuroscientific discoveries, characterized by a clear theoretical value, stressing their relationship with classic philosophical topics.
The course is an introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience, and to the philosophical debate at the crossroad between neuroscience, cognitive science and philosophy of mind. The first part of the course will be focused on a general presentation of contemporary cognitive neuroscience. Subsequently, it will tackle the issue of the so-called “pragmatic turn” characterizing the field of Embodied Cognition.
According to this view, cognitive processes emerge from sensorimotor and bodily patterns, commonly involved in agency and agent-world interaction, but also exploited by cognitive functions. The theoretical consequences of this view are of interest for the philosopher interested in topics such as mental representations, language, empathy, perception, decision-making or free-will.
Particular attention will be paid to some scientific researches carried out at the University of Parma, including those related the cognitive functions of the mirror neuron system, a clear example of neuroscientific discovery at the center of an important theoretical debate.
Purves, Neuroscienze Cognitive, Zanichelli;
Caruana Borghi, Il cervello in azione; Il Mulino;
Additional texts (philosophical and scientific papers) will be provided during the course.
The course is based on frontal lectures. PPT slides will be used and provided to the students at the end of the course.
The debate will be encouraged to find the possible philosophical interpretations and theoretical consequences of the presented neuroscientific studies.
Furthermore, students will produce a short paper where they will examine some scientific researches, and their theoretical bases.
Assessment methods and criteria
The main test consists in the evaluation of a short paper, written by the student.
In this paper, the student must show to have correctly understood the scientific problem. In addition, particular interest will be paid to his/her capability to detect the theoretical problems related to the scientific evidence.