MIT has been part of important breakthroughs in brain and cognitive science since 1964, and we feel privileged to contribute to the work of our peers. The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences was founded with a vision that the mysteries of the mind can only be solved through understanding the mechanisms of the brain. That vision has become the driving vision of the community as a whole. Today, we find ourselves at the forefront of discovery, and are excited about what the future holds. Our field is young and our most important work is ahead of us. 

BCS recognizes that to answer the biggest questions about the mind we cannot simply catalog details of the brain. Instead, our department champions the idea that we first seek to understand the computational problems that the brain must solve. This knowledge helps us delve into the mechanisms that help our brain execute a solution. 

To do this, we must integrate analysis across multiple levels of computation: 

  • Cognitive science – the study of the representations of the mind
  • Systems neuroscience – the study of the algorithms and circuits that build those representations 
  • Cellular and molecular neuroscience – the study of the mechanisms that control the construction and maintenance of those circuits. 

This integration requires computational approaches for building formal, testable bridges between all of these levels. 

Our Building 46 headquarters is ideally suited for the interdisciplinary collaboration that is at the heart of this work. Our facility offers access to the very latest in technology and attracts scientists from around the globe. While they represent a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds, and interests, they share a deep passion for their work.

The Department is unique in that both our graduate and undergraduate students are deeply involved in our research initiatives. Employing a wide range of methods and tools, we regularly find ourselves crossing disciplines and making new connections. It is within this intricate, cross-disciplinary web that we hope to gain new understanding of how the human brain works.