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BCAN | Areas of Focus

Students in the BCAN program who wish to follow a more standard regimen can choose to concentrate on one of the traditional areas of behavior, cognition, or neuroscience. The descriptions for each concentration is listed below. However, students do not officially declare an area of focus and indeed can combine portions of two or more of these areas for a regimen that is specifically suited to their interests. In all cases, consistent with our apprenticeship style of education, the regimen is designed by the advisor and the student in a joint effort.

Behavioral

In the Behavioral focus, students are expected to become proficient in research, theory, and behavioral principles along with the traditional topics associated with the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. These include conditioning and learning, stimulus control, incentive-motivation, behavioral economics, choice, biological-constraints-on-learning and animal models of drug abuse. Students are able to focus on a particular topic of interest through specialized seminars and in-depth laboratory research. Students pursuing the Behavioral specialization need to take any 6 of the core courses related to this area to enhance their fundamental background knowledge. Note that other courses (either at AU or any of the consortium schools) may be substituted for one or more of these core courses, but only with the approval of the academic advisor. In addition, we appreciate individual interests and highly encourage students to follow up these core courses with even more specialized seminars for depth and more integrative courses for a broader perspective. We place a special emphasis on research at all stages of graduate training. Students are expected to be an integral part of a laboratory throughout their graduate training, thereby augmenting their course learning through apprenticeship in research as well as contributions to science. Laboratory rotations ensure that different research skills are learned along with more content. With practical research experience and course work, students develop skills in the Experimental Analysis of human and animal behavior. For additional information about this focus area, please contact Dr. Stanley J. Weiss.

Cognitive

In the Cognition focus, students are expected to become proficient in many of the traditional topics associated with Cognitive Psychology, such as attention, perception, language and thought, and memory. Our program's main strengths, however, lie in the areas of memory, sensation and perception, language, AI, intelligent systems, and neural networks. Students pursuing a topic in any area need to take any 6 of the core courses to enhance their fundamental background knowledge. Note that other courses (either at AU or any of the consortium schools) may be substituted for one or more of these core courses, but only with the approval of the academic advisor. In addition, we cater to individual interests and highly encourage students to follow up these core courses with even more specialized seminars for depth and more integrative courses for a broader perspective. We also place a special emphasis on research at all stages of graduate training. Students are expected to be an integral part of a laboratory from Day 1 and augment their course learning through apprenticeship in research as well as contribute to science. Laboratory rotations ensure that different research skills are learned along with more content. The overarching goal at all times is the pursuit of answers from Mother Nature.
 

Neuroscience

In the Neuroscience focus, students are expected to become proficient in many of the traditional topics associated with the basic neurosciences, such as neuropharmacology, neurobiology, neuropsychology, behavior genetics and neurochemistry. Within each of these general areas, students are able to focus further on topics of interest via specialized seminars and classes and in-depth laboratory research. Students pursuing a topic in any area need to take any 6 of the core courses to enhance their fundamental background knowledge. Note that other courses (either at AU or any of the consortium schools) may be substituted for one or more of these core courses, but only with the approval of the academic advisor. In addition, we highly encourage students to follow up these core courses with even more specialized seminars for depth and more integrative courses for a broader perspective. We also place a special emphasis on research at all stages of graduate training. Students are expected to be an integral part of a laboratory and to augment their course learning through apprenticeship in research. Laboratory rotations ensure that different research skills are learned along with more content.
 

Individualized

Students can combine different focus areas or design their own individualized focus area together with their advisor. For instance, they may explore animal cognition such as decision making in pigeons, child neuropsychology, vision/behavior/biology, or addiction from a clinical perspective. The overall degree requirements are the same for all students, but students pursuing a combined or individualized focus area will need to determine the applicable core courses in conjunction with their advisors.
  

See also: Behavior, Cognition, & Neuroscience PhD Degree Requirements.