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College of Arts & Sciences

The PhD Program in CCN aims to educate and train students interested in pursuing research and teaching careers at peer and aspirant peer institutions, along with students interested in top industry and government research positions. The program seeks to offer students the highest level of training in behavioral, statistical, computational, and neuroscience methods needed to perform cutting-edge research that is competitive for publishing in well-regarded journals and placement in reputable academic positions. Students are trained to conduct research on a variety of theoretical and applied topics including memory, categorization and concepts, reinforcement and associative learning, cognitive development and aging across the lifespan, computational modeling, the control of attention, decision-making, creative cognition, metacognition, human computer interaction, spatial cognition, and psycholinguistics.

Faculty research covers a large breadth of topics in Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience. Some themes are:

  1. From basic to higher-order cognitive processes and functions – including mechanisms of associative learning, the control of attention, cognitive control, language processing, decision making, executive function, and creativity
  2. Cognitive development across the lifespan – with researchers examining cognition in infants, emerging adults, and older adults
  3. Cognition in real world contexts and applications – including cognitive aspects of addiction, depression, schizophrenia, and aphasia, information processing in hazardous work environments, the influence of bilingualism and multiple language experience on cognitive and neural functioning, the cognitive impact of writing system variation, factors influencing informal reasoning, creative thinking and design, and computer-human interaction.

A range of experimental paradigms – behavioral and neurobehavioral – are used to study these and other topics.

Faculty members have diverse expertise in neuroscience methods. Our department plays a leadership role in the new Human Imaging Facility (HIF), which houses a research-dedicated 3-Tesla Siemens Prisma MRI scanner. This supplements pioneering work by our faculty using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroencephalography (EEG), electrodermal activity (EDA), eye tracking, virtual reality, and spontaneous eyeblink measurements.

The CCN area is funded by extramural grants from NIH and NSF, as well as private foundations. From 2018-2022, the total award amount to current area faculty members as PI, co-PI, co-I, or mentor was over $12.9 million. Area faculty also have a high rate of publication productivity from 2018-2022, averaging 22 peer-reviewed publication per faculty member. The CCN faculty were highly cited during this span, with an average Google Scholar h-index of 23 and an average of 2,321 citations. The research of our faculty is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative (collaborating with faculty in Computer Science, Architecture, Visualization, Mathematics, Statistics, Health & Kinesiology, Engineering, Global Languages and Cultures, Construction Science, Agricultural Economics, Business, Geography, Sociology, Educational Psychology, and Ecology & Conservation Biology, among other fields).

Doctoral program graduates from the CCN area have secured assistant professor positions at research-intensive universities (e.g., University of Texas - Austin, Clemson University, Indiana State University), as well as post-doctoral positions at Harvard University, Yale University, University of Chicago, Georgia Tech, New York University, Rice University, Michigan State University, UCLA, and other top schools. Other graduates have secured highly competitive research positions within the US government (e.g., IRS, Census Bureau, National Weather Service), in addition to administrative positions in universities (e.g., Data Scientist at Vanderbilt University, Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs, University of Colorado, Denver) and funding agencies (e.g., Program Officer, National Cancer Institute).

CCN faculty are always looking for hard-working, driven graduate students.  Prospective students should apply in the fall for admission during the following academic year.  Prospective students are also strongly encouraged to contact individual faculty members whose research interests align with their own interests.