Cognitive Science: An Introduction/Serious Games and Crowdsourcing Methods

Some aspects of science require enormous amounts of human labor, too much for the individual scientist to do in their own lab.


One way around this is to hire people to do this labor. This requires coordination and a lot of grant money. It has been made less costly by recent internet applications, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk, which facilitates the hiring of people on the internet for small jobs that can be done through a web browser. The cumulative effort of laypersons working on one task is known as crowdsourcing.

Citizen ScientistsEdit

Some crowdsourcing projects work without payment. People contribute simply because they want to. Most open-source software projects are like this. There are also science sites where laypersons can volunteer to help out. These helpers are known as citizen scientists.

Serious GamesEdit

If a crowdsourcing project is gamified (made into a game), then some people will play the game, and help out on a scientific project, even if they don't care about the scientific aspect: They will play simply because it's fun. These are serious games. Most of the serious games related to cognitive science are more directly aimed at furthering artificial intelligence research, but some are for understanding the human mind and brain.

In the game Eyewire (2012,, players trace cells of the mouse retina in images they see. This has contributed to the discovery of six neuron types. Its successor, Neo, is currently being developed.[1]

The ESP game



  1. Deweerdt, S. (2019). Deep connections. Nature, 571(7766), S6-S8.