The areas of research strength in the BCN area include:
- Learning and memory
- Animal behavior
- Cognitive control
- Sensory processing
- Drug addiction
The BCN faculty use systems and cognitive neuroscience approaches to addressing their questions of interest. As a result, the BCN laboratories employ a wide variety of techniques, including neuronal recording, optogenetics, immunohistochemistry, fMRI, EEG, eye-tracking, computational modeling, brain stimulation / neuromodulation (DBS and TMS), and functional neuroanatomy, combined with different behavioral and cognitive approaches. Moreover, the BCN faculty collaborate extensively with colleagues across campus, including those in Biology, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Neurosurgery. Most of the BCN faculty are also members of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute (INI), a comprehensive and cross-disciplinary neuroscience center, led by Dr. Ted Abel. Through the INI, graduate students in BCN laboratories have the opportunity to interact with a wide array of neuroscientists and broaden their skills sets even further. In addition, graduate students have the opportunity to attend weekly colloquia given by leading neuroscientists from across the country and around the world.
Graduate students interested in joining the laboratories of BCN faculty should apply through the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences PhD Program and choose the BCN training area. The training program for the BCN area uses a flexible, mentor-based approach that facilitates research, enabling students to be highly productive and setting them on a path toward becoming an independent scientist.
Upon joining the program, students immediately join a lab and begin focusing their efforts on developing their laboratory skills and research ideas. Students also form a Research Advisory Committee of three faculty, including the mentor, who meet with and advise the student every semester until the student completes his/her Dissertation Prospectus, upon which the student's Dissertation Committee serves in a similar capacity. The BCN area's course requirements are relatively low to provide flexibility in each student's curriculum. There are two parallel curriculum sub-tracks within the BCN training, each will provide a tailored training curriculum for students interested in Behavioral Neuroscience (BN) or Cognitive Neuroscience (CN). Each BCN student selects one of these two sub-tracks, typically upon matriculating into the graduate program.
In addition, specialized seminar courses are typically offered every year by different faculty. Students also have the opportunity to take courses focused on skills development, such as research writing, and to take workshops across campus that focus on career development.
For full details regarding curricular requirements, please consult the BCN section in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Graduate Handbook.
In addition to the curricular requirements, students in the BCN area are required to complete a First-Year Project, which they present as part of the departmental Research Symposium during their second year. During their third year, students must complete their Prospectus, in which they propose their planned dissertation work. The Comprehensive Exam is folded into the Prospectus, enabling students to progress rapidly in their research toward their Ph.D.
Full financial support is provided to all graduate students in the program.
If you are thinking about applying to our Ph.D. program in BCN and want to learn more about the program and the affiliated faculty, please feel free to contact our training area coordinator, Isabel Muzzio at:
Office phone: 319-335-0191
Mailing address: Department of Psychology, G60 PBSB, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242