From large language models to political polarization, cultural diversity to animal cognition, our intellectual lives are permeated by questions about the nature of minds: what they are, how they grow, how they interact, and how they differ from one another. But no single discipline holds the answers to these fundamental questions. Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary nexus devoted to the study of the mind.
Interdisciplinary conversations rely on shared referents including foundational philosophical concepts, approaches to the measurement of behavior from psychology, observations of human variation from anthropology, representations and formalisms from linguistics, mechanistic insights from neuroscience, and computational methods taken from computer science, statistics, and beyond. This background is complex and distributed across a bewildering array of books, journals, and other resources. Further, the research literature is not organized to provide definitions of foundational concepts.
The Open Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (OECS) aims to provide an accessible introduction to this set of issues. The goal is to provide a roadmap that is suitable for a broad and informed non-specialist audience, providing tools to understand what is at stake in the study of cognition and intelligence, especially as it shapes fundamental issues facing society today. Articles will both showcase cutting-edge debates in the field of cognitive science as well as introducing core subfields, central concepts, significant phenomena, and key methods.
OECS (pronounced “Oh-Ex”) is organized around a set of basic principles that distinguishes it from other reference works.
Open. OECS offers short, approachable, free articles that provide interdisciplinary context and definition for the major component topics and debates of cognitive science.
Accessible. OECS introduces key aspects of any given topic in a form that is readable by a college student, not just by a scholar who is already familiar with the content.
Authoritative and Scholarly. OECS articles are written by leading scholars in a particular field and peer-reviewed for accuracy and balance. They are fully-referenced, citable articles with permanent, versioned links and digital object identifiers (DOIs). Each article also includes a short, annotated bibliography with key readings.
Broad but Focused. Because cognitive science touches so many different disciplinary areas, providing full coverage of core concepts in each would be an unfathomable task. The goal of OECS is to feature articles on those questions, concepts, phenomena, and methods that have been a key focus of interdisciplinary interest, especially those topics for which no similar reference exists.
Fundamentally Interdisciplinary. OECS aims to emphasize the permeability of disciplinary boundaries. Articles are designed to give a multidisciplinary perspective and to situate specialist debates in a broader context, making connections to real-world issues where appropriate.
OECS is an open access resource published by the MIT Press with generous support from James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Allen Institute for AI.