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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 AB degree (Effective Class of 2019)

The A.B. concentration requires 12 courses.  The Sc.B concentration additionally requires 1 laboratory course and 4 approved science courses, totaling to a total of 17 required courses. 

Common Core

The introductory course, “CLPS 0010 Mind, Brain, and Behavior,” surveys the broad territory of the scientific study of the mind, as uniquely represented by our department.  The course maps the breadth of the science of the mind, focusing on fascinating questions, garnered insights, common commitments, and successful techniques and approaches. The course could be taken by students interested in the CLPS concentrations or as an introductory survey course at the beginning of one's college career.  AP Psychology is not an acceptable equivalent for CLPS 0010.

Careers in Cognitive Neuroscience and related fields requires familiarity with statistics.  Therefore, the Cognitive Neuroscience concentration requires a course in Quantitative Methods (CLPS 0900). CLPS 0900 is a prerequisite for most of the laboratory courses, so concentrators should plan to take this course by their fourth semester.  The department does not grant concentration credit of AP Statistics, regardless of score.  Students who feel that CLPS 0900 is too elementary can complete an approved alternative course (e.g., APMA 1650, CLPS 2906, PHP 1501, ECON 1629, APMA 1660).


To provide students with a solid foundation of knowledge in their area of concentration and to minimize redundancy, the Cognitive Neuroscience concentration requires four foundation courses in Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuropsychology, and Computational Methods. 


Each concentrator will take four additional courses that allow the student to go into depth in some of the relevant topics.  Three of these courses must be 1000-level courses.  Some courses designed to count as electives will often have foundation courses as prerequisites and may include laboratory courses, content courses, or seminars. 

Research Methods

Another element in the Cognitive Neuroscience concentration is a research methods course that builds on the introductory statistics course (which will be a prerequisite) but exposes students to a variety of topics in research of the mind: to empirical methods (e.g., surveys, chronometry, eye tracking, brain imaging), to common designs (e.g., factorial experimental, correlational, longitudinal), to research ethics, and to best practices of literature review.  Alternatively, students may take an approved laboratory course. 


Concentrators will additionally take either a seminar course or an independent research course to serve as their capstone experience. 

Additional requirements for Sc.B.

In line with university expectations, the Sc.B. requirements include a greater number of courses and especially science courses. The definition of “science” is flexible.  A good number of these courses will be outside of CLPS, but several CLPS courses might fit into a coherent package as well.  In addition, the Sc.B. degree also requires a lab course to provide these students with in-depth exposure to research methods in a particular area of the science of the mind.  

Honors Requirement

An acceptable upper level Research Methods, for example CLPS 1900 or an acceptable Laboratory course (see below) will serve as a requirement for admission to the Honors program in Cognitive Neuroscience.  


Requirements for the A.B. degree

CLPS 0010Mind, Brain and Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Approach1
CLPS 0900Statistical Methods1
One approved course in Cognitive Neuroscience, such as:1
Behavioral Neuroscience: Introduction to Biological Psychiatry
Cognitive Neuroscience
Brain Damage and the Mind
One approved course in Neuroscience, such as:1
The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience
Principles of Neurobiology
Neural Systems
One approved course in Cognitive Neuropsychology, such as:1
Human Cognition
Brain Damage and the Mind
Cognitive Neuropsychology
One approved course in Computational Methods, such as:1
Introduction to programming
Computational Methods for Mind, Brain and Behavior
Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
CLPS 1950
Deep Learning in Brains, Minds
Computing Foundations: Data
Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming and Computer Science
Mechanisms and Meaning of Neural Dynamics
Big Data Neuroscience Ideas Lab
Computational Neuroscience
Four Approved Electives: 4
Any 1000-level course in CLPS or NEUR that is not being used to fultill another requirement and fits with a unified theme is acceptable Themes could be any of the foundation areas or some other theme that has three available 1000-level courses, for example, language, developmental or decision-making. Courses outside CLPS and NEUR may also be acceptable if they fit with the unified theme.
One Independent Study or Approved Seminar, such as:1
Acceptable Independent Research Courses: CLPS 1980 or NEUR 1970
Acceptable seminars: Any 1000-level seminar in CLPS or NEUR
Research Methods: 1
Research Methods And Design
CLPS 1901
Research Methods
Acceptable Laboratory courses: Any 1000-level course in CLPS or NEUR. Laboratory courses outside of CLPS or NEUR are not acceptable
Total Credits12

Requirements for the Sc.B. degree

The Sc.B. requires all twelve of the courses required by the AB, above.12
Plus five additional courses as outlined, below:
One Approved Laboratory Course, such as: 1
Any 1000-level laboratory course in CLPS
Experimental Neurobiology
Structure of the Nervous System
Laboratory courses outside of CLPS or NEUR are not acceptable
Four Approved Science Courses, such as: 4
Any 1000-level course in CLPS or NEUR
Any course that is acceptable for concentrations in APMA, BIOL, CHEM, CSCI, MATH or PHYS is acceptable as a science course
Total Credits17