Learning outcomes of the course unit
At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able: 1. To understand the basic lexicon of neuroscience on general themes of anatomy and functional aspects of the brain; 2. To apply the acquired concepts to the problems of the contemporary interdisciplinary debate; 3. To take a lucid and argued position on issues related to the relevance of neuroscientific data, and their role on the debate within the humanities; 4. To debate on the topics addressed during the course with reference to the vocabulary and the argumentative strategies of cognitive neuroscience. In addition, the course will provide the student with the ability to use multimedia tools (web search engines, social networks) to retrieve information and stay updated; 5. To read and understand scientific texts (neurosciences, cognitive sciences) and philosophical texts dedicated to reflection on the mind.
There are no prerequisites
Course contents summary
The course provides an introduction to the Philosophy of Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences, and to the multiple interactions between Cognitive Neuroscience and Humanities. Beside transmitting the basic knowledge required for a basic course in Cognitive Neuroscience (anatomical and functional aspects of the brain), the course will address some topics related to the so-called "pragmatic turn" in mind sciences, and the consequent development of discussion areas shared between neuroscience, psychology and philosophy, highlighting the numerous articulations of contemporary interdisciplinary dialogue. Further details will be provided in the "Extended Program" section
The course is an introduction to the Philosophy of Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences, 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” and “embodied cognition” characterizing contemporary cognitive science. 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 all scholars in the field of philosophy and humanities, interested in topics such as mental representations, language, empathy, emotion, 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;
Marraffa, Filosofia della Psicologia; Laterza
Additional texts will be provided during the course
The course is essentially based on lectures. Each lesson will make use of PPT slides and movies. All the slides will be provided to the students during the course. During the lessons, debate on the meaning of the presented scientific evidence will be encouraged. In particular, we will try to understand the possible theoretical interpretations of the data, and the consequences deriving from the aforementioned interpretations. At the end of the course, students will be asked to write a short article examining some scientific studies. The student will choose the topic within a list proposed by the teacher, in order to meet the specific interests of the student.
Assessment methods and criteria
The exam is divided into a written and an oral part. As far as the former is concerned, the student will choose a topic within a list proposed by the teacher, deepening a subject covered in class. The article must be written according to the style required by the main specialist journals, simulating the submission of an article for publication.The oral part will be on the discussion of the written text, and on general topics discussed in class