What are cognitive sciences, a rapidly growing field of frontier knowledge that will have multiple applications

06/07/2021

Cognitive Sciences is a new interdisciplinary field that, in order to understand the human mind, combines anthropology, physics, mathematics, neurosciences, linguistics, computational sciences, and artificial intelligence. This new branch of knowledge is based on the idea that the mind is created by the brain.

Through careful studies of patients who have suffered brain trauma, it has been demonstrated how small damages in the brain can create great changes in the mind. For example, lesions in the hippocampus eliminate the ability to create new memories, lesions in the right temporoparietal junction produce changes in the morality of individuals, and lesions in the prefrontal cortex create drastic personality changes.

Cognitive Science attempts to understand what knowledge is and how we learn. The goal is to find out how the brain is able to do things like learning a new language, understand a poem, think about the thoughts of others, send precise signals to the nerves in order to play the piano. 

Using new technologies such as fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging), which allows taking pictures of the brain indicating which regions are working, and TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), which allows temporarily deactivating parts of the brain to study how a human's behavior changes, cognitive sciences try to understand which parts of the brain are involved in the activities we do every day.

With this information, and by applying mathematical models and methods borrowed from artificial intelligence, simplified models of how the brain works can be constructed. In recent years, this approach has generated new technologies such as cars capable of recognizing pedestrians and other cars, algorithms capable of learning new concepts after a few examples, and even programs that can reason about the thoughts of others by observing how they act.

Aside from this, cognitive sciences also seek to understand the delicate processes in the brain that, when they fail, produce mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, Huntington's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. By understanding the biological basis of these diseases and the brain mechanisms that are damaged, possibilities open up for the creation of new drugs to deal with these diseases. This is a rapidly growing field of frontier knowledge that will also have multiple applications in medicine, psychology, and technology.

By Mexicanist