A NEW NETWORK FOR POSTGRADUATES AND EARLY-CAREER RESEARCHERS WORKING IN COGNITIVE SCIENCE IN THE UK AND BEYOND
iCog seeks to facilitate collaboration across constituent disciplines and to raise the profile of cognitive science.
The project of cognitive science is, in the broadest terms, to understand the workings of the mind. Researchers in its constituent disciplines – anthropology, psychology, philosophy, computational intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics – attempt to answer such questions as:
- What is the structure of the mind? Which parts of the mind are innate and which are learned?
- How do we come to perceive the world? What is consciousness, and how is it produced?
- What are emotions and other affective phenomena and how do they work?
- What is the adaptive function of various behaviours and psychological capacities?
- What aspects of cognition are uniquely human, and which do we share with other animals?
- How are we able to understand the minds of others?
- How are concepts formed? How do we acquire language? Does language structure thought, and if so, how?
- What capacities are involved in various kinds of decision-making and executive function?
- What is moral cognition and how does it work?
- How much variation is there in behaviours, beliefs and psychological capacities cross-culturally?
Despite a good deal of progress on these and other issues in recent decades, current disciplinary boundaries in the majority of British universities, funding agencies, and learned societies make it difficult for those working in one discipline of cognitive science to receive training in the methods of other disciplines, and meet with researchers working on similar issues in other discipline areas. This can be particularly discouraging for postgraduates and early-career researchers whose research does not fit neatly within disciplinary boundaries. Even where interdisciplinary work exists, balanced and reflective collaboration can be difficult to achieve. iCog aims to promote dialogue and collaboration between disciplines, rather than one‐sided conversations.
iCog organizes an annual conference and workshops. The inaugural conference took place at the University of Sheffield at the end of 2013. The second annual conference took place at the University of Edinburgh in October 2014 and focused on the theme of learning in cognitive science. The third annual iCog conference took place at Senate House, University of London, in February 2016. The fourth annual iCog conference will take place at the University of Oxford in June 2017.