Research Programs

Research Programs

We believe that the key to understanding the mind lies in a fundamental understanding of the brain. That is why we bring cognitive science and neuroscience together under the same intellectual roof. With top-notch faculty and research disciplines that range from molecular, cellular and systems neuroscience to computation and cognitive science, our students are seeking answers to tough but critically important questions.

Our comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach and truly collaborative environment gives students the freedom to shape their research work across disciplines, departments, and research centers. 

Our students have access to the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, other research institutes, and on-site facilities for fMRI and MEG imaging. This gives them access to world-class technology and resources. 

Perhaps most importantly, our students find a creative, passionate, and diverse community that truly supports the work of each of its members. 

Clinical Rotation Opportunity

BCS Clinical Experience at MGH for Graduate Students

Course Description: Dr. Thomas N. Byrne, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, will mentor the students attending seminars in clinical neurology and neuropsychiatry conferences at Massachusetts General Hospital. Students will learn about the pathogenesis, diagnosis, management and therapeutic clinical trials of diseases of the nervous system. These seminars are conducted by clinical and basic science faculty of Harvard Medical School and attended by Harvard faculty, fellows, residents and medical students at MGH.

Each clinical experience will be one week.  Students will have the option to attend up to four seminars in their individual week.  Each seminar lasts one-hour and is followed by a discussion of the material with Dr. Byrne. (with the exception of the Shadow Memory Disorders Clinic, which lasts two-hours)

Priority will be given to BCS graduate students in their 1st and 2nd year.  In addition, slots will also be available to MIT undergraduate students based on availability, with priority given to students enrolled in Dr. Mriganka Sur's course, 9.24 Disorders and Diseases of the Nervous System.  Interested students should contact Jillian Auerbach.

The seminars available for AY19 with the days and times are as follows (please note that the schedule is subject to change).

Monday 12:00pm Alzheimer’s disease
Monday 1:00-3:00 pm Shadow Memory Disorders Clinic
Monday 5:00pm Functional Neurosurgery (once per month: dates TBD
Tuesday 1:00-3:00 pm Shadow Memory Disorders Clinic
Wednesday 1:00pm Neuroradiology
Thursday 9:00am Neurology Grand Rounds
Thursday 11:00am Neuro-oncology
Thursday 12:00pm Psychiatry Grand Rounds
Thursday 12:00pm Movement Disorders (2nd and 4th week of the month
Thursday 1:00pm Neuroradiology
Friday 7:30am Brain Cutting
Friday 1:00pm Epilepsy – (open to graduate students only)

In Their Own Words...

"I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone, even if their research interests don't seem directly clinically relevant. In the lab, you typically only work with small areas of the brain, but this is an incredible opportunity to look at the whole brain from an entirely different perspective. It just shows you what a mystery the brain really is, and how much work there is still to be done!"
Jenna Aronson, BCS Graduate student

“The clinical experience gave me tremendous opportunity to meet clinicians and talk to them about potential research directions that could help to improve the practice of medicine. Speaking to clinicians about real-world challenges in medicine and thinking about how my work could potentially contribute to addressing these challenges helps keep me motivated to work hard at my research! I would highly recommend the clinical experience to my fellow BCS students."
Gladia Hotan, BCS Graduate student
“Dr. Byrne is also an incredible teacher and helped me see many of the experiences from viewpoints I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. He made the experience significantly more valuable than it otherwise would have been.”
Andrew Francl, BCS Graduate student
“I thought it was an absolutely incredible experience, I am very glad I got to participate, and I would strongly recommend it to others. It reinforced my interest in the basic science side of neuroscience as our fundamental, scientific understanding of many disorders is vague, and the experience brought home that physicians are doing their best but there is a huge opportunity for basic research right now, and it feels cool and urgent to be in that open space.”
Mitchell Murdock, BCS Graduate student

BrainLunch and CogLunch Seminars

BrainLunch and CogLunch are weekly, student-organized seminar series at which MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences graduate students (and occasionally postdoctoral or non-BCS students) present their research on brain and cognitive science related issues. These sessions — both informal and informative — are a long-standing department tradition. Announcements with information time and location are sent weekly.

Advance training programs for years 3-4

The department’s Program in the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (NLM) was conceived to provide a track for advanced graduate students (years 3-4) to apply complex, interdisciplinary approaches to the common intellectual theme of how information is stored in the nervous system and how these mechanisms go awry in mental illnesses. The program emphasizes an in-depth immersion in the neurobiology of learning and memory, preparing these talented student scientists for professional careers devoted to the scientific investigation of how information is stored and accessed by the nervous system and the application of this knowledge to relieve the burden of mental illness.