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Visual Cognition
Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status
Course Description


This course will be built around the contemporary research on vision to give an overview of researching cognitive processes in general. First, we will briefly cover the classical approaches of low and high-level vision, visual learning, the neural implementation of perception and learning in the brain, and their computational models. Alongside, we will critically evaluate the state-of-the-art in these domains and explore alternative approaches to the same issues. Next, we will learn the probabilistic view on vision, and how it changes the research questions in focus. We will investigate how interpreting sensory perception, cue-combination, statistical learning, and rule learning in the framework of probabilistic inference can expand the range of interpretable phenomena in vision and cognition. We will also cover theories of possible neural embodiment of such computations in the brain, and review evidence that supports such an implementation. Completion of this course will provide a self-contained theory of cognitive processes and their implementation in the brain.

Learning Outcomes
  • Getting acquainted with vision research and its links to higher cognition 
  • Understanding the link between perception and learning 
  • Exploring the probabilistic interpretation of vision and cognitive functions 
  • Tying abstract computational and behavioral results to neural implementation of visual coding 
  • Gaining experience in how to read and present various scientific materials

The course grading is based on the following three components.

  • Each student will have to make a number of presentations based on the assigned readings during the semester. Making a presentation involves reading the assigned papers, if necessary reading additional material, preparing a brief summary slide 2 presentation of the topic, and leading the discussion during class. Performance will be evaluated based on how well the student understood and presented the essence (!) of the topic rather than getting lost in details, how well s/he could keep the presentation conscience and within proper time frame instead of repeating back the entire content of the paper, and how well s/he integrates the given topic with the previous topics discussed in class. The slide presentations will be collected and used in the final evaluation. 
  • In addition, each student needs to read each assigned paper for each class (before the class!). While this does not have to be a deep thorough reading (although that is the best), it must be sufficient to be familiar with the topic covered in the paper. Having said that, reading of the course material is essential component of the course, and keeping up with the readings will be expected. To facilitate this, each student has to submit (before the class by E-learning Dropbox) and also bring to class a copy of a one-page summary sheet. On this sheet, for each paper, 4 items should be presented in an itemized manner: a) one-two sentences about the gist of the paper, b) a single idea/result/methodological trick that was the most interesting, c) the list of topics, notions, equations that the student did not understand or did not agree with, d) at least one question that s/he wants to clarify based on the study that defines the next step in the research. During the class the student will present his/her summary and the question, which will be discussed in class. Students will be required to reach and present an answer to the question by the end of the class. When the student is one of the presenters in the class, s/he is still required to present a summary sheet of the other papers, but s/he does not need to come up with a presentable question. 
  • Participation in class sessions. This is a small, seminar-style course with the goal of integrating several topics. It is essential that the class formed a coherent view on the covered topics by the end of the semester. To achieve this, I expect a highly interactive and critical discussing during classes.

Required Materials:  PDFs of the reading will be provided.

Course Level
Academic Year
US Credits
ECTS Credits
Course Code