The Brain, Behavior, and Cognition program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of cognition and brain function. Its aim is to provide students with the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to conduct independent research and to become productive scholars and teachers in this area. Mentorship comes from nine faculty members in Psychology, and can be enhanced by collaboration with faculty from other departments such as Animal and Nutritional Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Linguistics, and Zoology. The faculty in Brain, Behavior, and Cognition offers a wide range of knowledge and experience analyzing behavior and applying the techniques of traditional experimental psychology, psychophysics, and modern neuroscience to the study of related cognitive, perceptual, biological and neurological mechanisms.
Most graduate students work on research projects that are part of a faculty member's on-going research, but students are encouraged to develop independent lines of research. Currently, faculty members have interests in basic memory processes; reading comprehension; psycholinguistics; language development; physiological mechanisms that underlie certain memory, stress, and mood disorders; psychopharmacology; psychoneuroimmunology; animal learning and behavior; comparative psychology; basic visual processes including spatial and temporal properties of stereopsis illusions, color vision, and physiological optics.
Animal labs include a variety of computer-controlled apparatus for training diverse behavioral tasks. These include a Morris water maze, video tracking system for open field, automated radial arm mazes, swim stress apparatus, chambers for olfactory discrimination and memory, rodent operant chambers for training DM and DNM with retractable levers, avian operant chambers with video displays and touchscreens, serial reaction task chambers, and shuttle boxes. Additional behavioral apparatus include measures of motor function, analgesia, behavioral despair, and fear conditioning. The labs are well-equipped for stereotaxic surgery, histology, light-microscopy and image analysis, intracranial infusion of drugs, neurochemistry and receptor binding studies, assessment of immune function, and stress-controllability programs.
Vision labs are equipped with a four-channel xenon-arc-based Maxwellian view optical system, a computer-based stereo Maxwellian view optical system, and a two-channel rear projection free-view optical system.
Cognitive labs consist of state-of-the-art computers and associated equipment, including eye-tracking technology. The cognitive neuroscience laboratory is equipped with a 64-channel ActiChamp EEG system.