ICBS Today

Intellectual Roots of ICBS

ICBS Today

The Institute for Cognitive Studies was created in 1984 to promote research opportunities in the field of cognitive science. We have recently renamed the ORU as the "Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences" (ICBS) to reflect an evolution in our program over the past ten years: namely, the marriage of the study of the mind and the brain in an interdisciplinary manner.

Understanding the brain will require an appreciation of the complexity of the mental faculties of human and non-human organisms, while the development of sophisticated theories of mental function will be informed and constrained by neuroscience. ICBS will continue to be a critical institution on campus for the promotion of interdisciplinary efforts to understand mental function. The ORU has a superb record of supporting research projects that span departmental boundaries, drawing on its membership from Psychology, Linguistics, Computer Science, Education, Philosophy, and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute(a campus institute with its own FTE allocation). Our biweekly ICBS colloquia, interdisciplinary courses, undergraduate major, and graduate training grant have provided graduate and undergraduate students with exposure to the diverse research methods and programs that characterize cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience, and the conferences hosted by ICS have attracted international attention.

Berkeley faculty in ICBS study basic problems in cognition from a variety of perspectives. Projects range from the study of color perception, language development, and the understanding of metaphor. In all of these, there has been a shift towards the inclusion of the biological basis of cognition. Thus the explicit incorporation of the brain in the reorganization of the ORU.

The inclusion of the biological basis of cognition has been manifest at all levels of the ORU's operation. Many of our members' research programs are centered in cognitive neuroscience (e.g., Profs. Feldman, Ivry, Knight, Lakoff, Malik, Robertson, and Shimamura). Berkeley has been already internationally recognized for the research programs involving neurological patients. Many of the faculty have developed satellite collaborations to pursue neuroimaging studies and will now move these to campus with the creation of the Brain Imaging Center. The computational modeling projects in linguistics, computer science, and robotics continue to be neurally inspired. Many of our graduate students take courses in cellular and molecular biology as well as the behavioral neurosciences, and their research projects reflect this interdisciplinary training. Our undergraduate major now includes a specialization in cognitive neuroscience as well as a prerequisite in neuroscience (MCB 61) and upper division requirement in cognitive neuroscience for all of our majors.