Psychology

Website with Track Requirements: Department of Psychology

Advising and Assistance: Current psychology concentrators interested in learning more about the psychology MBB track, Cognitive Science, should talk to their concentration adviser in their house. Prospective psychology concentrators can either talk to the psychology concentration advisor in their house, or contact the Psychology Undergraduate Office. Additionally, students are welcome to come to walk-in advising hours in William James Hall 218. Walk-in hours are posted on the website. Laura Chivers is available to meet with students to discuss the application process and specific pathways through MBB. Psychology Head Tutor and MBB Track Faculty Head George Alvarez is happy to meet with students to discuss careers or research opportunities.

The Intellectual Basis: The intersection between psychology and mind/brain/behavior is concerned with how mental capacities -- such as memory, perception, mental imagery, and language -- arise from brain function. Thus, studies in the Cognitive Science track involve studying mechanisms that ultimately produce cognition and behavior. Therefore, students and scholars in these areas study both the brain and behavior. These researchers work at two levels of analysis. Some try to understand mental capacities by delineating sets of component processes and the ways in which they work together; these processes typically are identified with the operation of rather large sets of neurons in specific brain regions. Such theories typically are tested by using brain-scanning techniques, observing selective deficits in cognition and behavior following brain damage, and by studying information processing in special populations (e.g., patients with diseases that affect the brain). Others study the nature of the specific neural microcircuits in a given brain region. These researchers study nonhuman animals to gain insights into the neural bases of perception, memory, and cognition and some construct detailed models that implement specific theories of how the brain gives rise to mental capacities. Computer simulation models, often using neural network designs, are used, but the models tend to be more tightly tied to precise properties of neurons when they are used to understand the operation of specific microcircuits than when they are used to understand the interactions of large sets of neurons working in concert. In short, Cognitive Science is highly interdisciplinary but focuses at its core on the relation of the brain to cognition and behavior.