Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscience is the study of higher cognitive functions in humans and their underlying neural bases. It is an integrative area of study drawing primarily from cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics. There are two broad directions that can be taken in this concentration - one is behavioral/experimental and the other is computational/modeling. In both, the goal is to understand the nature of cognition from a neural perspective. The standard concentration for the Sc.B. degree requires courses on the foundations, systems level, and integrative aspects of cognitive neuroscience as well as laboratory and elective courses that fit within a particular theme or category such as general cognition, perception, language development or computational/modeling. Concentrators must also complete a senior seminar course or an independent research course. Students may also participate in the work of the Brown Institute for Brain Science, an interdisciplinary program that unites ninety faculty from eleven departments.

Standard program for the ScB degree

Concentration Courses

A total of 16 courses are required for the concentration. Each student is required to pass 9 courses designed to introduce students to the foundations (5), systems level and integrative aspects (4) which uniquely define cognitive neuroscience; two laboratory courses; four elective courses; and either a senior seminar course CLPS 1900 or an independent research course. The laboratory and elective courses should fit within a particular theme or category such as general cognition, perception, language development, or computational/modeling. The design of the concentration and selection of courses should be made in consultation with the faculty advisor.

Foundation Courses:
BIOL 0200The Foundation of Living Systems1
CLPS 0200Human Cognition1
Select 1 of the following:1
Quantitative Methods in Psychology
Statistical Inference I
Experimental Design
MATH 0090Introductory Calculus, Part I (or equivalent)1
NEUR 0010The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience1
Note: Students wishing to pursue a computational/modeling track are encouraged to take APMA 1650
Systems Level and Integrative Courses:
CLPS 0040Mind and Brain: Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience1
CLPS 0400Brain Damage and the Mind1
CLPS 1291Computational Methods for Mind, Brain and Behavior1
or CLPS 1492 Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
or APMA 0410 Mathematical Methods in the Brain Sciences
NEUR 1030Neural Systems1
Laboratory Courses:2
Students must choose two laboratory courses. Please note that due to enrollment limits in some lab courses, priority may be given to concentrators in that department. Students should therefore be prepared to choose from the other laboratory options.
Experimental Analysis of Animal Behavior and Cognition
Laboratory in Genes and Behavior
Laboratory in Cognitive Processes
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Theory and Practice
Neural Modeling Laboratory
Auditory Perception: Sensing the World through Sounds
Laboratory in Developmental Psychology
Laboratory in Social Cognition
Laboratory in Psycholinguistics
Research Methods in Physiologic and Acoustic Phonetics
Directed Research in Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences
Experimental Neurobiology
Structure of the Nervous System
Neuropharmacology and Synaptic Transmission
Students must take four additional courses around a particular theme. Electives can be characterized as either core cognitive neuroscience courses which focus directly on the intersection of mind and brain, or related courses which focus primarily on either the mind or brain. Electives may be chosen from either group. 4
Normally only one elective course that is below the 1000-level may count towards the elective courses required. An appropriate (but additional) laboratory course may be used in lieu of one of the four elective courses. Appropriate Topics course offerings (not listed below) may also count as electives with the approval of the Concentation Advisor.
Core Cognitive Neuroscience Electives:
Principles of Behavioral Neuroscience
Developmental Psychopathology
Memory and the Brain
Biology of Communication
The Neural Bases of Cognition
Mechanisms of Motivated Decision Making
Cognitive Neuroscience of Emotion
Cognitive Aging and Dementia
Cognitive Control Functions of the Prefrontal Cortex
Cognitive Neuropsychiatry
Visually-Guided Action and Cognitive Processes
Perceptual Learning
Visual Consciouness
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
The Developing Brain
Topics in Development - Developmental Disorders
Language and the Brain
Neuroimaging and Language
Biology of Hearing
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
The Diseased Brain: Mechanisms of Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders
Cognitive Neuroscience: Motor Learning
Neural Correlates of Consciousness
From Neurophysiology to Perception
Higher Cortical Function
Related Electives:
Human Thinking and Problem-Solving
Making Decisions
Perception and Mind
Child Development
Children's Thinking: The Nature of Cognitive Development
Language and the Mind
Animal Cognition
Psychology of Timing
Psychophysiology of Sleep and Dreams
Human Memory and Learning
Concepts and Categories
Seminar in Decision Making
Reasoning and Problem Solving
Causal Reasoning
The Production, Perception, and Analysis of Speech
Topics in Language Acquisition: Language Acquisition and Cognitive Development
Discourse Processing
Perception and Action
Auditory Perception: Sensing the World through Sounds
Computational Vision
3D Shape Perception
Visualizing Vision
Cognitive Development
Cognitive Development in Infancy
Child Language Acquisition
Psychology in Business and Economics
Language Processing
Syntactic Theory and Syntactic Processing
Region of Interest: An In-Depth Analysis of One Brain Area
Brain Interfaces for Humans
Disease, Mechanism, Therapy: Harnessing Basic Biology for Therapeutic Development
Primarily Computational/Modeling:
Students are advised to take APMA 0330 (Methods of Applied Analysis I) and APMA 0340 (Methods of Applied Analysis II) as their two supporting science courses. Note that MATH 0100 is a prerequisite for these courses. See CLPS listings (above) for other computational/modeling courses. See CLPS Topics listings for other computational/modeling courses.
Topics in Chaotic Dynamics
Human and Machine Learning
Computational Methods for Mind, Brain and Behavior
Mechanisms of Motivated Decision Making
Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
Computational Vision
Applied Artificial Intelligence
Computer Vision
Computational Linguistics
Building Intelligent Robots
Computational Modeling and Algorithmic Thinking
Image Understanding
One senior seminar course CLPS 1900 or an independent research course.1
Total Credits16


Students who would like to pursue a degree with honors are normally expected to have half of their grades as A (or equivalent) within the concentration and are required to satisfactorily complete a written thesis and an oral presentation.