Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience

Egner superivising TMS

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

NOTE: Our program has made the GRE General Test optional for admission to the fall 2021 class. You may submit scores if you have them, and they will be considered by the admissions committee. Applications without GRE scores will be given equal consideration. 


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 Ph.D. program at the beginning of the third year. Admission to a departmental Ph.D. program is not automatic; it requires a mutual match with a Ph.D. 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 Roberto Cabeza discuss your application.