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Mission statement

In the Department of Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science we focus our research activities on one of the most exciting themes within science: The investigation of the human mind! How do people think? How does our memory function? What is cognition? What happens in the brain, when we engage in problem solving or remember something? Can animals think? What about robots?

Already in the ancient Greek history, philosophers were fascinated by such questions. Presently, a still relatively young research area tries to investigate the human mind with the use of scientific methods. This area has been labelled "Cognitive science". In the Department of Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science we concentrate our research activities on the central themes of this research area. The central focus of our interest is directed toward all those structures and processes, that underlie mental (= cognitive) efforts such as thinking and problem solving, decision making and action, encoding and retrieval, learning and forgetting, as well as speech and consciousness.

In our research we utilize the range of scientific methods that might help contribute to the understanding of the human mind. In doing so, we do not confine ourselves to the constraints of any single discipline, but instead combine methods from widely diverse domains. Our methods include the experimental psychological analyses of behaviour, the investigation of brain processes, and the simulation of mental processes with computer programs. In this way we want to countervail both the reductionistic– a look into the brain is enough, to understand the mind— as well as the pure mentalistic — the brain does not play a role, when one wants to understand the human mind — tendencies in psychology and cognitive research. We believe that the investigation of the human mind should be done on three different levels: on the level of experience and action of individuals and groups, on the level of information processing and algorithms, and finally on the biological level. The question we are addressing here is how activity of the mind is accomplished through physiological processes in the brain. In this sense we also want to aid in answering questions that are of practical relevance. In cooperation with Informatics we want to contribute to the development of „cognitively adequate“ and user friendlier technical systems, and in collaboration with medicine we are looking into the defective information processing in patients with brain damage.

Teaching is of great importance to us as well! We offer our students a first-class education surrounding the theme „Cognition“. An important aspect of our teaching is to connect it closely to our research. In this way, the students will in a very early stage become integrated in our research. This approach is based on our conviction that first-class research forms a prerequisite for international competitive teaching. Therefore, we put much value on integrating „Internationality“ into the education. We highly encourage our students to engage in study visits, practicums etc. abroad and build for them, with the help of our numerous international connections, the necessary „bridges“.