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Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience

The Ph.D. program in Cognitive and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) seeks to educate and train students interested in pursuing research at the highest levels of academic scholarship. The program offers training in a wide range of research areas in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Some emergent themes in CCN faculty research are:

1) Learning, memory, and executive function –  including basic associative learning mechanisms as well as memory, language processing, decision making and creativity,

2) Cognitive development across the lifespan, with researchers examining cognition in infants, emerging adults, and older adults, and

3) Cognition in real world contexts and applications – including cognitive aspects of  addiction, depression, schizophrenia, and aphasia, the influence of multiple language experience on cognitive functioning, factors influencing creative thinking and design, and computer-human interaction.

CCN faculty and students also conduct functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) studies at the Texas Institute for PreClinical Studies (TIPS), located on campus.  This supplements pioneering work by our faculty using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). In addition, transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS), electroencephalography (EEG), galvanic skin conductance response (GSR), Positron Emission Tomography, eyetracking, and spontaneous eyeblink measurements are being used by our faculty.  This reflects a strategic focus of the area to explore cognition at behavioral, computational, and neurobiological levels of analyses.  Students can also obtain high-level training in statistics, research design, mathematical modeling, and fMRI analysis.

The CCN program has an excellent student to faculty ratio of 2:1. Our students engage in research from the first year onward and present their first year project to the Department in the fall of their second year.  Our doctoral program graduates have secured assistant professor positions at University of Texas, Austin, Clemson University, South Dakota State, California State University, Chico, National Chung-Cheng University (Taiwan), Spelman College, Suleyman Sah University (Turkey), University of Pretoria (S. Africa), Keimyung University (S. Korea), University of Wisconsin Fonds-du-Lac, and St. Mary’s University, as well as post-doctoral positions at Brandeis University, Georgia Tech, Harvard University, Michigan State University, National Brain Research Center (India), New Jersey Medical School, New York University, Pusan National University (S. Korea), Rice University, University of Nevada, and UCLA. Other students have obtained top industry jobs.

CCN faculty and graduate students meet each week for an interdisciplinary brown bag seminar series, Cognoscenti. The series brings to campus faculty members from other departments and other universities and provides exposure to different perspectives on the field and the opportunity to network with professors at other institutions.  Students can also engage in journal clubs on current topics of interest in the field. The CCN area also participates in an annual regional conference on cognition (ARMADILLO), held in the fall at a different university in Texas each year (Texas A&M has hosted the conference four times, including the 2017 conference). There are also opportunities for students to present their research at other venues at the university and at national or international conferences, including the Psychonomics Society, the Association for Psychological Science, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and specialized conferences.  Our students publish with CCN faculty in some of the leading journals in the field.

Research by CCN faculty has been supported by grants from federal agencies, private foundations, and internal funding sources. The faculty are also active on editorial boards of various scholarly journals:   Cognitive Studies: Bulletin of the Japanese Cognitive Science Society; Journal of Memory and Language; Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics; Journal of Neurolinguistics; Memory & Cognition; Laterality. One of our faculty (Vaid) is Editor of the journal, Writing Systems Research; and another (Anderson), is Associate Editor of the journal, Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics. Three CCN faculty (Ward, Smith & Vaid) co-edited a research volume, Creative Thought: An Investigation of Conceptual Structures and Processes.  The CCN area values collaborative interdisciplinary and international research. Individual faculty in the area have hosted visiting scholars (including Fulbright scholars) from India, Poland, France, Australia, Spain, Korea, Canada, and Israel.

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.