2022 Fall Course MAS.S61


Caitlin Morris, PhD Student, Fluid Interfaces <>
Abhinandan Jain, PhD Student, Fluid Interfaces <>
Pattie Maes, Professor of Media, Arts and Sciences <>

Units: 2-0-10
Time: Thursday 12PM-2PM
Place: E15-341
Zoom (listeners only):

Note: Prior application and approval of instructors required. Submit an application via this link prior to the first class.

We often consider the brain to be the locus of our cognition and behavior, frequently using tools such as computers and smartphones that allow us to work and interact without engaging the rest of the body. Recent research has demonstrated that cognition takes place not only in the brain, but rather through a series of processes that happen unconsciously in the body before entering brain-centric cognition. This class will explore the role that the body, environment, and our social connections play in our conscious and unconscious cognition and behavior. We will read relevant literature from the Brain and Cognitive sciences and Human-Computer Interaction domains about perception, interoception, nonverbal learning and communication, unconscious cues in social behavior, and more, to support the design and development of novel human-computer interfaces which access the full spectrum of the senses and all forms of thinking. Students will be asked to read and comment on 2 papers each week, participate and present in class discussions, and design and prototype an original project in a small group. The class will be limited to 20 highly motivated, qualified students.  

Classes will follow the following general format:

45 minutes of Technical Concept introduction and reading discussion, led by faculty with group discussion
30 minutes of Design / Interface examples and discussion presented by students
30 minutes of guest speaker presentation

Several classes will also be dedicated to development and presentation of student projects.

Each week, students will read one paper related to the technical background of that week’s theme, and one paper related to a design / interface example. Students should be prepared to present their readings several times throughout the semester and participate weekly in group discussions. Students will complete weekly design exercises based on the readings and theme.