06.10.2017

Rebekah Rousi: I’ll tell you why Cognitive Science is important

While it seems silly, quite often subjects, topics and fields which are highly interdisciplinary by nature are often times hard to place. People approach these phenomena as if they were all and nothing at the same time. Generally, the inability to directly label and confine phenomena, into a nice, neat set of methods and theories results in people wanting to avoid or at least ignore the subject. It is not uncommon for us in the Cognitive Science team to experience this. And, surprisingly, in a world increasingly dominated by information technology, where the mind is ever more in question particularly in terms of how we cope as human beings, not just surrounded by, but having to negotiate abundant amounts of information systems on a basis, people still wonder what Cognitive Science is.

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Simply put, at the University of Jyväskylä, Cognitive Science studies the relationship between people, their minds (and bodies) with technology. We engage in technology, of various types, on countless levels during the course of our daily lives. From the time we wake up in the morning, by the alarm on our smartphone to the time we shut our laptops, place our tablets in their covers, turn off the television, check the home’s climate control and air conditioning system before switching off the lights and going to bed, we are in constant interaction with technological designs - most of which are now a part of our massive, globally connected information system.

Just a technological day in the life of anybody on this planet, should be reason enough to explain why Cognitive Science is so multidisciplinary. To understand Cognitive Science we need: psychologists, ergonomists, information scientists, teachers, the Humanities (including all forms of the arts and design), sociologists, mathematicians, biologists, physiologists (sports scientists, neuroscientists, medical scientists etc.), economists, physicists and more (sorry if I have forgotten anyone). The thing that ties us together is technology, primarily information technology, and our need to understand how this impacts every facet of human beings’ life practices.

Why is this important? Because current and emerging phenomena including the numerous platforms, portals, Apps, domains, automats, wireless systems plus IoTs, in addition to more visible and visual big data and its systems, autonomous systems and alternate ways of learning and teaching, mean that now more than ever we need to pay close attention to how cognition is evolving. Particularly in terms of: 1) ensuring everyone has equal access and possibilities (to learning, health, information and wellbeing in general); 2) maximizing safety (safety critical interactions range from industry, to driving and even maintaining the household); and 3) maintaining a healthy, balanced and stable relationship between the mind and body.

If you want to know more reasons for why Cognitive Science is so important, please come and see us on the 5th floor of Agora.

Rebekah Rousi, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Computer Science and Information Systems 5.4.2016