Cognitive/Neuroscience Program in Psychology

Update:  The new Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building is open.  Visit the Integrative Science's website for even more news on this exciting project.

 

Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience

The University of Oregon has a strong program for training students in Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Systems Neuroscience (the Systems Neuroscience program is described in the section below). While students work closely with faculty in research, the student's development of an independent research direction is encouraged.  Research areas include cognitive and neural basis of perception, cortical sensory information processing, molecular and cellular basis of memory, visual cognition, selective attention, working memory, long-term memory, executive control, action, language processing, brain plasticity, information processing and trauma, and other topics.  Training is closely geared to students' backgrounds and goals.  An informal weekly seminar allows graduate students and faculty to present their research.  Many faculty and students interested in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience attend these seminars, which are particularly useful in acquainting first-year students with the faculty.  In addition, there are opportunities to participate in formal seminars and in a variety of other research groups.  Research facilities are ample, and easily accessible; students are able to conduct research on almost any topic in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Since Summer 2002 the Department of Psychology houses a research-dedicated Neuroimaging Center (The Robert and Beverly Lewis Center for Neuroimaging) with a 3T MRI Scanner.  Faculty and students of the department are the main users of this facility.  A large emphasis will be on training the skills necessary for carrying out functional imaging research. Faculty and students also make use of the Transgenic Mouse Facility to apply new molecular and genetic tools in Systems Neuroscience research.

One of the most important aspects of the program is its informal, cooperative atmosphere; people are eager to collaborate in research and to share ideas.  At the same time, there is an emphasis on the development of imagination and intellectual independence.

The Cognitive Psychology faculty are also members of the Institute for Cognitive and Decision Sciences, and the Institute for Neuroscience which have already established a record of facilitating interdisciplinary research in Systems Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognition and Instruction, and Social Cognition and Decision Making.   Opportunities for training in the many disciplines related to Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience are provided through close links to these centers.  For example, the Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Training Program draws those students from the departments of Biology and Psychology who wish to concentrate in cognitive and/or systems neuroscience.  Trainees follow a course of study that prepares them to design, conduct, and analyze the results of experiments at the leading edge of their field.  One of the program's highlights is the so-called cross-rotation, in which students focusing in either systems or cognitive neuroscience do a hands-on, three month research project in the complementary discipline.  This activity promotes both breadth and interdisciplinary thinking.  Another highlight is the writing, defense, and submission of a grant proposal for a prestigious National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institutes of Health.  This feature addresses the growing importance of grantsmanship in the life of tomorrow's reearchers by teaching the theory and practice of this essential skill.

 

Systems Neuroscience

The University of Oregon offers graduate and postdoctoral study in the Neurosciences through the Institute of Neuroscience with faculty members from the following departments: Biology, Psychology, Computer Science and Human Physiology.  The program is focused on laboratory based neuroscience directed toward understanding relationships between nervous systems and behavior.  Students take courses in psychology and neuroscience during the first two years in the program.  The required core neuroscience curriculum includes courses in cellular neuroscience, systems neuroscience, and cognitive neuroscience.  Other formal and informal courses provide instruction in electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, neuroethology, and biochemistry.  The program is designed to train students to become independent research scientists in neuroscience.

Our current faculty represents approaches to the study of the brain at many levels, ranging from behavioral to molecular.  Each faculty member maintains an active research program, and graduate students can gain laboratory and research experience working in these programs.  Students have an opportunity to learn modern techniques in electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, molecular neuroscience and behavior.  Research programs of psychology faculty include the genetic and neural bases of learning and memory, sensory information processing in cortical circuits, environmental influences on the development of the nervous system, and the neurobiology of visual attention.  Neuroscience research programs of biology faculty include brain mechanisms of sound localization, the electrophysiology and anatomy of hair cells, and the control of chemotaxis in C. elegans.

In addition, there is a larger community of scientists in other departments investigating problems related to the nervous system.  These faculty provide a rich resource for our program.

Support for graduate students can be in the form of teaching, training grant, or research fellowships, depending on qualifications and interest.

 

Psychology Faculty Research Interests