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 addition, slots will also be available to students enrolled in Dr. Mriganka Sur's course, 9.24 Disorders and Diseases of the Nervous System.  Interested students should contact Sierra Vallin.

The seminars available for AY21 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.

Training programs for years 1-2

The department’s Program in Computationally-Enabled Integrative Neursoscience (CEIN) was created to train future neuroscientists to combine experimental methods and concepts, contemplate and build quantitative models that integrate empirical results from different levels of brain analysis, adhere to the highest standards of methodological and quantitative rigor, and have the professional skills and connection with human health. This novel intergrative program maintains our core strength in training across levels of empirical analysis, from molecular and cellular neuroscience, to circuits and systems, to cognitive neuroscience. In addition, the program reflects significant evolution in our field: the increased importance of computation to analyze data and to bridge across those levels, and the increased importance of professional skills. As neuroscience is rapidly evolving, we have developed elements in this CEIN program to meet new challenges in training the next generation of leading neuroscientists.