Cognitive Science Goes to the Movies

Jacob Feldman (Psychology)
Karin Stromswold (Psychology)

Movies are a virtual laboratory of cognitive science, from the perceptual functions that make them possible (apparent motion, the perception of 3D form) to the thematic content of the movies themselves (memory, language, and the cognitive and neurological disorders as featured in many films). This seminar explores a variety of topics in cognitive science as illustrated by a selection of popular movies which students will watch. Examples include short-term memory (as illustrated in the movie Memento); longterm memory (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); dementia (Still Alice); language disorders (L’enfant Sauvage); philosophical conundrums of artificial intelligence (Blade Runner); and the epistemology of perception (The Matrix). Through viewing and directed discussions of these movies, the seminar will introduce students to the cognitive and perceptual functions that allow viewers to comprehend the action on the screen as well as the psychological functions and dysfunctions the movies depict.