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Contact information

Please direct inquiries about the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience to:

Terry L. Davidson
Director, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience
Asbury 334
4400 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20016


Royal Gethers
Senior Administrative Assistant
Department of Psychology
4400 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20016


Advisory Committee

Terry L. Davidson: Director
Stefano Costanzi
Kathleen Gunthert
Alison Presley
Colin Saldanha
Arthur Shapiro
Catherine Stoodley

See all Members.

Our Integrative Program of Research and Training


“One cannot explain a psychology with a physiology until one has a psychology to explain”
 — Edward C. Tolman (1932)

While it is important to identify and describe the functional relationships among the structures, circuits, and pathways that comprise the brain and nervous system, a complete understanding of behavior and its disorders will also require detailed knowledge of the psychological processes that the brain and nervous system have evolved to perform. To achieve this level of understanding, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience promotes research by, and communication among, scientists who work at many different levels of analysis. In this way, knowledge obtained by scientists who study psychological processes (e.g., cognitive, emotional, associative, perceptual) that underlie behavior can be used to guide the work of researchers who study the biological mechanisms (e.g., molecular, neuroanatomical, hormonal, physiological) that underlie those processes.

By developing and promoting the research capabilities of American University, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience supports the training goals of faculty and students in a number of graduate programs. These programs include behavior, cognition, and neuroscience (BCaN), biology, chemistry, and clinical psychology. Faculty and graduate student members of the center from each of these disciplines participate in a wide range of projects aimed at understanding the interrelationships between the brain and behavior. In addition, while not a degree-granting entity, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience sponsors activities such as special courses, symposia, and off-campus training opportunities that enhance the educational experience for students at American University.

A Hub of Research Excellence

Neuroscience Research Hub Diagram

Nationally and internationally, behavioral neuroscientists are tackling the most complex problems related to both normal and abnormal behavior. As part of this community, the faculty members of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience strive to achieve the highest standards for research on the processes and substrates that underlie normal behavior and on the pathologies that lead to behavioral dysfunction. There is little doubt about the importance of this work. Disorders of the brain and behavior, including obesity, depression, addiction and cognitive dementia, are currently among the most costly, pernicious, and widespread threats to human health and quality of life. To address these and other important problems, the members of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience have joined together to form a hub of research excellence that encompasses four broad and interrelated research themes. Consistent with a multi-disciplinary perspective, many of the center’s members have research programs that span more than one of these areas.

See more about our research.

Our Mission 

The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience creates a unique interdisciplinary research and training environment that promotes excellence in the study of brain function and its manifestation in behavior. Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the center strives to increase basic and applied knowledge and to improve the quality of life by fostering an integrative and collaborative environment across diverse areas of scientific endeavor.

Our Vision

We envision the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience as an externally-funded and self-sustaining center that integrates psychology, biology, neuroanatomy, and physiology with chemistry, physics and mathematics to advance understanding of the cognitive, emotional, sensory, and regulatory functions that underlie the behavior of both humans and animals. The center will bring together experts from these and other disciplines in a setting where students, faculty, and other research professionals work collaboratively to generate new ideas, methods, and concepts.