Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience

Members of the Cog/CN training areas use behavioral, computational and neural methods to investigate human cognition, including attention, memory, training and learning, emotion, reward, and decision making.

Neural Methods Include:

  • Event-related potentials (ERPs),
  • Peripheral psychophysiology (e.g., galvanic skin response),
  • Volumetric MRI
  • Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)
  • Functional MRI (fMRI)
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

Additional Information


Students should complete two research practica in different labs during their first year in the program. These practica can be method- or content-based and students may continue to work in their primary lab while conducting a practicum in a different lab.


Students must complete the following required courses:

  • P&N First Year Seminar (2 half-credit courses: PSY 763S, PSY 764S)
  • Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience I (PSY 759S)
  • Foundations of Cognitive Psychology (PSY 730S)

2 additional P&N training area “core courses,” selected from:

  • Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience II (PSY 760S)
  • Social Behavior and Personality (PSY 629S)
  • Adult Psychopathology (PSY 705)
  • Advanced Cognitive Development (PSY 722)
  • Foundations of Behavioral and Computational Neuroscience (PSY 780S)

1 Research Method or Statistics course. Sample courses include:

  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (PSY 762)
  • Graduate Statistics (PSY 766)
  • Applied correlation and regression (PSY 767)
  • Applied structural equation modeling (PSY 768)

Additional Requirements

  • Students are expected to attend talks relevant to the C&CN training area, to attend P&N departmental colloquia, and to participate in the other events of our training area.
  • Students must give talks on their research in Year 3 and Year 5
  • Students must serve as teaching assistants for four courses.

Typical plan of coursework for completing the P&N and C&CN requirements:

  Fall Spring
Year 1
  • Course 1 (First Year Seminar)
  • Course 2 (Cognitive Neuroscience I)
  • Practicum 1
  • Course 3 (First Year Seminar)
  • Course 4
  • Practicum 2
Year 2
  • Course 5
  • TAship 1
  • Course 6
  • TAship 2
Year 3
  • Course 7
  • TAship 3
  • Defend "Major Area Paper" (MAP)
  • TAship 4
Year 4
  • Defend Dissertation Proposal
Year 5  
  • Defend Dissertation


There are two ways to receive training in cognitive neuroscience at Duke.  A student can be directly admitted to P&N, to work with a specific mentor (1st option depicted in the figure above).  A student can also be admitted to the Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting program, which does not immediately match students to a particular lab. Instead, students rotate through several labs before matching with a mentor in their second year and transferring to a departmental PhD program at the beginning of the third year. Admission to a departmental PhD program is not automatic; it requires a mutual match with a PhD supervisor.

If you are interested in option 2, please read more about the CNAP program on the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences website.

Faculty from other areas of P&N or other departments may be involved in some way in graduate student training.  However, only the following faculty have the ability to admit Ph.D. students directly to this training program:

Please contact individuals for more information about admissions plans for the upcoming year - they may or may not be admitting!

If you wish to be in the Cog/CN area but your desired mentor does not appear on this list, please contact the area head Ahmad Hariri to discuss your application.