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2016/2017  BA-BIMKV1002U  Cognition and Communication: An Introduction

English Title
Cognition and Communication: An Introduction

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BA in Intercultural Marketing Communication
Course coordinator
  • Daniel Barratt - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Communication
  • Methodology and philosophy of science
  • Business psychology
Last updated on 01-03-2016
Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic methods of some of the main approaches to investigating the human mind/brain, including (experimental) cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive neuropsychology, computational cognitive science, and philosophy of mind.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of theories, models, and empirical findings relating to cognitive faculties such as perception, attention, memory, language, higher cognition (executive functions), emotion, and consciousness.
  • Provide illustrative examples of how the research in cognitive psychology potentially illuminates our understanding of human communication.
  • Analyse relevant theories, models, and empirical findings in a coherent and critical way, while observing academic conventions regarding the presentation of arguments and the use of references.
Course prerequisites
No course prerequisites.
Cognition and Communication: An Introduction:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure

This elective course is intended firstly as an introduction to the field of cognitive psychology, and secondly as an introduction to how cognitive psychology potentially illuminates our understanding of human communication. In the course, cognitive psychology will be defined as an interdisciplinary approach to the systematic study of mind, brain, and behaviour; a field that incorporates a variety of academic disciplines including (experimental) cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive neuropsychology, computational cognitive science, and philosophy of mind. Communication, on the other hand, will be broadly understood as the act of a sender transferring information to a receiver through the use of some sort of physical medium. The course will relate cognition and communication in various ways: cognitive psychology will be seen as providing an explanation for how communication is possible, while communication studies will be seen as providing a concrete and practical example of cognition operating in an everyday setting.

The first part of the course will introduce some of the main approaches to investigating the human mind/brain. A number of basic distinctions will be considered. For example, there are two basic ways of addressing cognitive phenomena – theoretical and empirical – and two basic levels of explanation: the functional level describes the ‘software’ of the mind (its systems and processes), while the neurobiological level describes the ‘hardware’ of the brain (the physical structures which underpin those systems and processes).


The second (and main) part of the course will give an overview of the theories, models, and empirical findings relating to various cognitive faculties: namely, perception, attention, memory, language, higher cognition (executive functions), emotion, and consciousness. Additional topics will include evolutionary theory (how cognitive mechanisms evolved to cope with the environment of our hunter-gatherer ancestors), and theories of embedded and embodied cognition (how cognition potentially involves an interaction between the brain, the body, and the world).


The third and final part of the course will attempt to demonstrate how cognitive psychology potentially illuminates our understanding of human communication. For example, the research on visual perception and attention can shed light on how the user processes various technologies and interfaces, and how the consumer processes various advertising and marketing campaigns. Similarly, the research on decision making and emotion can shed light on various aspects of consumer behaviour.

Teaching methods
Weekly lecture followed by seminar consisting of group discussions and exercises.
Student workload
Lectures 36 hours
Preparation for lecture and seminar (12 weeks x 7 hours) = 84 hours
Final examination (including preparation) 86 hours
Further Information

This elective course references and partially overlaps with the proposed elective course ‘Visual Communication’ (BA-BIMKV1008U).

Expected literature

Primary reading

Eysenck, M. W., & Keane, M. T. (2015). Cognitive Psychology: A Student’s Handbook (7th Ed.). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

Secondary reading: Approaches to human cognition

Churchland, P. (2002). Chapter 1: Introduction. In Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy (pp. 1-34). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Secondary reading: Visual perception and attention

Fodor, J. A. (1985). Précis of The Modularity of Mind. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8(1), 1-5.


Land, M. F., & Tatler, B. W. (2009). Chapter 3: How our eyes question the world. In Looking and Acting: Vision and Eye Movements in Natural Behaviour (pp. 27-55). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Secondary reading: Memory

Patterson, K., Nestor, P. J., & Rogers, T. T. (2007). Where do you know what you know? The representation of semantic knowledge in the human brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 8, 976-988.

Loftus, E. F. (2003). Make-believe memories. American Psychologist, 58(11), 867-873.


Secondary reading: Language, evolution, and culture


Pinker, S. (1994). Chapter 4: How language works. In The Language Instinct: The New Science of Language and Mind (pp. 83-125). London: Penguin Books.


Regier, P., & Kay, P. (2009). Language, thought, and color: Whorf was half right. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(10), 439-446.


Secondary reading: Higher cognition


Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 185(4157), 1124-1131.


Evans, J. St. B. T. (2008). Dual-processing accounts of reasoning, judgment, and social cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 255-278.

Secondary reading: Emotion

Frijda, N. H. (1988). The laws of emotion. American Psychologist, 43(5), 349-358.

Phelps, E. A. (2006). Emotion and cognition: Insights from studies of the amygdala. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 27-53.

Secondary reading: Consciousness

Baars, B. J., & Franklin, S. (2007). An architectural model of conscious and unconscious brain functions: Global Workspace Theory and IDA. Neural Networks, 20, 955-961.

Block, N. (2005). Two neural correlates of consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(2), 46-52.

Last updated on 01-03-2016