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School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences - The University of Texas at Dallas



imageThe PhD program in cognition and neuroscience offers a distinctive blend of research initiatives and doctoral study in the neural processes underlying sensation, perception, memory, learning, language and executive function throughout the lifespan.


The faculty is dedicated to guiding students in the development of research skills, and students will actively participate in research throughout their time in the program. A low student/faculty ratio facilitates this emphasis.


Major research areas and core strengths within the program include:



Degree Program Financial Aid
About Our School Program Contacts
Research Areas Program Resources










Degree Program


imageStudents average five years for completion of the program, although it is possible to meet all the requirements in four years. Most students focus their studies on neuroscience or cognitive science, which includes both behavioral cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience work. The University requires a minimum of 75 hours of coursework.


The specific program requirements include: three credit hours of a doctoral proseminar that will acquaint students with the breadth of faculty research programs, six hours of core research methods courses, six hours of core courses in cognition and neuroscience, and nine hours in the student's major area of study (neuroscience or cognitive science). The remaining graduate courses are advanced electives tailored to meet each student's needs and interests.


The graduate catalog provides an overview of course descriptions. 


Each student works closely with the faculty in completing an empirical research project and an integrated literature review (or grant proposal) during the first two years of the program. In the third year, students advance to PhD candidacy by preparing a dissertation research proposal. The dissertation consists of an independent and original research project conducted under faculty supervision. Successful public defense of the completed dissertation is the final step in attaining the PhD.


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About Our School


The cognition and neuroscience program is a part of the UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, which offers exceptional research facilities, including modern laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art computers and equipment for experiments with both human and animal subjects, and UNIX workstations for modeling and advanced mathematical analysis of complex data sets.

Our behavioral and perceptual facilities support videography and audiography, as well as neuropsychological and advanced cognitive testing. Neuroimaging, neuroanatomical and neurochemical facilities are available and widely used. Neurophysiological methods ranging from acute and chronic in vivo techniques to advanced in vivo slice recording techniques are used extensively.

Many of the cognition and neuroscience faculty work collaboratively across our doctoral programs in psychological sciences, communication sciences and disorders, and audiology. The doctoral programs are complemented by four research centers: the Center for BrainHealth, the Callier Center, the Center for Children and Families, the Center for Systems Neuroscience and the Center for Vital Longevity.

Additional resources are available through cooperative programs with various departments at UT Southwestern Medical Center.


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Research Areas


imageThe core faculty in the Cognition and Neuroscience PhD program specializes in cognitive-neuroscience, cognitive psychology and neuroscience.


Human Perception, Memory and Cognition


Encompasses all aspects of the cognitive processes by which we create and process mental representations of the world, reason, make decisions, and manage social interactions. One significant area of strength is that of perception and memory for complex patterns of information in the environment, including faces, speech and language, music and text. Another is that of reasoning, decision-making, executive function, and disorders of these processes linked to brain damage, addiction and other psychopathological conditions.


Human Perception, Memory and Cognition

Hervé Abdi, James Bartlett, Chandramallika Basak, Xiaosi Gu, John Hart, Kristen Kennedy, Daniel Krawczyk, Mandy Maguire, Alice O’Toole, Denise Park, Amy Pinkham, Michael Rugg, Bart Rypma, Noah Sasson, Sven Vanneste, Gagan Wig


Aging and Cognition


The effect of aging on information processing has profound personal and societal consequences. Diverse effects of aging, ranging from isolated memory loss for specific items to global dementia, are studied using both psychological and neurobehavioral approaches. The School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences has unique clinical resources in the Center for BrainHealth, the Callier Center, the Center for Vital Longevity, and close collaborative associations with the Advanced Imaging Research Center and other facilities at UT Southwestern Medical Center. This aids innovative approaches to the study of information processing and memory in late adulthood.


Faculty Specializing in Aging and Cognition

James Bartlett, Chandramallika Basak, Sandra Chapman, Kristen Kennedy, Denise Park, Karen Rodrigue, Michael Rugg, Bart Rypma, Tres Thompson, Gagan Wig


Artificial Neural Networks

Abstract mathematical models of brain structures and functions, referred to as "connectionist systems," "neurocomputers," or "parallel distributed processing models" are used to simulate computational processes in the brain, and the solutions can be compared with empirical data.

imageFaculty Specializing in Artificial Neural Networks

Hervé Abdi, Richard Golden, Alice O’Toole


Cellular and Molecular Plasticity

The ability of individual neurons to respond to changes in their synaptic inputs over time scales ranging from nanoseconds to the entire lifespan is a key and fundamental area of study in the basic neurosciences. Combining expertise in neurophysiological, cell biological and molecular biological fields, our multidisciplinary scientists conduct research elucidating basic mechanisms of brain plasticity.


Faculty Specializing in Cellular and Molecular Plasticity

Greg Dussor, Michael Kilgard, Sven Kroener, Christa McIntyre, Jonathan Ploski, Theodore Price, Tres Thompson


Pain Plasticity

Pain is the primary reason people seek medical attention and the societal cost of chronic pain is more than diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined. More importantly, chronic pain affects as much as a third of the population of the United States creating tremendous suffering and disability in our population. Despite these facts, very little is known about how pain becomes chronic and current treatments are often ineffective. The goal of pain research at UT Dallas is to alleviate the burden of chronic pain through basic research, therapeutic discovery and education.

Faculty Specializing in Pain Plasticity

Greg Dussor, Theodore Price

Neuroplasticity in Learning and Memory

Neuronal networks are constantly reorganizing to adapt to the circumstances of life. The relationship between this underlying plasticity and behavioral change is a critical area of research in the neurosciences. Strengths in our program include human neuroimaging, EEG, and ERP, as well as state-of-the-art in vivo and in vitro interrogation of cellular and molecular responses to learning and neuronal stimulation.

Issues related to aging, addiction, recovery of function, stress and fear, arousal, attention and cortical sensory processing are all active areas of investigation in model systems.

Faculty Specializing in Neuroplasticity in Learning and Memory

Chandramallika Basak, Greg Dussor, Francesca Filbey, Kristen Kennedy, Michael Kilgard, Sven Kroener, Christa McIntyre, Jonathan Ploski, Theodore Price, Robert Rennaker, Tres Thompson, Sven Vanneste, Gagan Wig




Design and implementation of new and better interfaces for both detecting ongoing neuronal activity and influencing that activity in biologically salient ways requires expertise in both the underlying neurobiology and skills in engineering (biophysics, material sciences, electrical engineering, computer sciences, etc.). Researchers at UT Dallas straddle both fields of expertise in their basic and applied studies.


Faculty Specializing in Neuroengineering

Seth Hays, Michael Kilgard, Aage MøllerRobert Rennaker, Mario Romero-Ortega, Tres Thompson, Sven Vanneste


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imageThe admissions committee evaluates applications on several dimensions, including prior GPA, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, prior research and professional experiences, commitment to scholarship, and fit between the research interests of the applicant and faculty.


Requirements for PhD Program Application


  • Minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Completion of undergraduate degree in related major is advisable. Completion of a masters degree is not required.
  • Three letters of reference
  • A statement of purpose


To submit an application:



The UT Dallas graduate admissions page will help guide you through the process. You can check your status using the University’s Orion program. If you’ve been accepted into the program, please read the University’s steps after admission page.


Cognition and Neuroscience Doctoral Program

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Rd, GR41
Richardson, TX 75080




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Financial Aid


Financial support of doctoral students is awarded through teaching or research assistantship stipends and tuition scholarships. For more information about graduate financial support opportunities, visit our financial aid and support page for PhD students.


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Program Contacts

Program Head

James Bartlett, PhD


Associate Program Head

Christa McIntyre, PhD


For Additional Program Information
Cognition and Neuroscience Doctoral Program

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Rd, GR41
Richardson, TX 75080




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Program Resources



BBS Graduate Student Guide

Cognition and Neuroscience PhD Degree Plan

Dissertation Committee Membership

Dissertation Proposal Approval

Dissertation Proposal Public Presentation

In Absentia Registration

Milestones Agreement Form

PhD Research Small Grants Program

Public Presentation of Research Project

Request Final Oral Exam

Request for Extension

Request for Travel Funds

UTD Graduate Studies Office Student Progress Report


Systems Neuroscience

Cognition and Neuroscience PhD Degree Plan (Systems Neuroscience)

SN First Year Project Committee Membership and Proposal Approval

SN First Year Project Approval

SN First Year Project Public Presentation and Defense Approval


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