August 22, 2014, BY Heather Johns

Welcome to "Cool Classes," a regular feature that highlights the interesting, intriguing and unexpected in Bucknell University's course catalog.

What class? PSYC 319 02: Cognitive Control

Who teaches it? Professor Agnes Jasinska, psychology

"Cognitive control has to do with how we inhibit our impulses, resist temptations, finish demanding tasks, persevere toward long-term goals, and keep stress and negative emotions from getting the better of us. 

"This class stimulates students' curiosity about how we accomplish cognitive control and how it works in the brain. But I also want them to pair that with a scientist's mindset, which means critical thinking, rigorous use of scientific method, and careful weighing of arguments and evidence on both sides. 

"Students keep a journal, and they each come up with their own cognitive-control goal or challenge — like resisting the urge to binge-watch Orange is the New Black. For the rest of the semester, they use their journals to reflect on and analyze the ways in which the different concepts, ideas and theories they are learning relate to, and can be applied toward, reaching their goal or overcoming their challenge.

"One thing that may surprise students is the neuroscience view of cognitive control. Evidence suggests that our cognitive control may be modulated by many of the same factors that modulate other brain processes, from stress, anxiety and motivation, through learning and practice, to diet and sleep.

"I hope students learn that science is a work in progress — and that critical thinking and novel, creative ideas are essential to advancing our knowledge."

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