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


Organism Under Microscope

The PhD program in cognition and neuroscience offers advanced study and research training for students seeking to become leading scientists and scholars in the field. Research in cognition and neuroscience encompasses all aspects of cognition, including studies of perception, memory, reasoning, decision-making, neuroplasticity and neuro-engineering.

The cognition and neuroscience PhD program 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. Students may focus on perception and memory for complex information patterns such as faces, speech, language, music, and text, or reasoning and decision-making processes in conditions such as brain damage and addiction. Another area of strength is cellular and molecular neuroplasticity — in typical learning and memory as well as in chronic pain and other atypical conditions. Finally, the program has unique strengths in artificial neural networks and neuro-engineering.

Doctoral students in cognition and neuroscience benefit from the rich intellectual climate in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), including weekly lectures and research presentations by students, faculty, and visiting scholars. The school hosts an annual colloquium series presented by internationally known scientists, and the school’s four centers periodically offer symposia and workshops that are freely available to graduate students. Doctoral students receive funding support for presenting their research at professional meetings and conducting their dissertation research. Finally, doctoral students are provided with a variety of other professional development experiences, including opportunities to develop their teaching skills.

Primary Faculty and Research Areas

Herve Abdi Memory and cognition, quantitative models, neuroimaging, genomics

Peter F. Assmann Perception of speech in adverse conditions; acoustic properties of speech in children

Chandramallika Basak Attentional control and working memory, cognitive training strategies, neural and cognitive predictors of complex skill acquisition, and aging

Michael D. Burton Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience. How peripheral stimuli communicate to the CNS to elicit complex behaviors: An emphasis on pain, depression, and metabolism.

Sandra Bond Chapman Dr. Chapman’s scientific study elucidates and applies novel approaches to improve brain performance across the lifespan in health, injury and disease.

W. Jay Dowling Music cognition, including encoding melodies into memory, tracking motion in tonal space, and the origins of emotional responses to music.

Greg Dussor Pain, with an emphasis on chronic headache disorders such as migraine.

Julia L. Evans The neurobiology of language, implicit learning and working memory deficits in children with specific language impairments

Francesca M. Filbey Neurobiological mechanisms underlying reward-motivation

Richard M. Golden Mathematical analysis and design of statistical machine learning algorithms with applications to modeling problems in neural, behavioral, and social sciences

John Hart Dr. Hart’s work has focused on the cognitive neuroscience of semantic memory. He has pioneered the development of novel research designs and analytical techniques in EEG and MRI/fMRI aimed at elucidating how the brain stores and retrieves semantic information. He has translated his theoretical work on semantic memory and neuroimaging technique development to the study of patient populations, including Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Herpes Simple encephalitis, West Nile encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, Gulf War Illness, and PTSD patients.

Kristen M. Kennedy Normal aging of human brain structure and function (using neuroimaging tools) and their cognitive consequences (using neuropsychological/cognitive assessments); health, lifestyle and genetic modifiers of these age-related changes in brain and cognition.

Michael P. Kilgard Targeted Neural Plasticity for the treatment of stroke, autism, brain damage, spinal cord injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, tinnitus and pain.

Daniel C. Krawczyk Reasoning, Decision Making, Cognitive Biases, and Executive Functions. Methods include cognitive measures, brain stimulation, and brain imaging. Cognitive interests in context effects on decision making and decision framing effects. Clinical interest in the cognitive effects of traumatic brain injuries.

Sven Kroener Physiology of the prefrontal cortex as it relates to schizophrenia and drug addiction

Mandy J. Maguire Studying how factors such as family socioeconomic status (SES) and bilingualism influence brain and language development using EEG.

Christa K. McIntyre Rodriguez The effect of stress on memory consolidation with the goal of identifying therapeutics for memory and anxiety disorders

Aage R. Moller Neural plasticity and its role in tinnitus, hyperacusis, phonophobia, and misophonia, teaching biology of pain, neuroplasticity, intraoperative neurophsysiology

Alice J. O'Toole Face recognition by humans and machines. Neural processing of faces and bodies.

Denise C. Park Cognitive neuroscience of aging; preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; effect of an engaged lifestyle on cognition; cultural neuroscience

Amy E. Pinkham The characteristics, neural basis, and behavioral consequences of social cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.

Jonathan E. Ploski Deciphering the molecular events that must occur to allow an existing memory to be modified via reconsolidation updating; leveraging this information so rational strategies can be developed that will increase the efficacy of reconsolidation blockade based therapies.

Theodore J. Price The molecular mechanisms that cause pain to become chronic; developing therapeutics to target these mechanisms

Robert Rennaker Targeted Plasticity Therapy, medical device development, neurological injury and repair

Karen M. Rodrigue Understanding factors that contribute to individual differences in brain and cognitive aging over the lifespan, utilizing neuropsychology assessment, structural and functional MRI and PET imaging techniques

Michael D. Rugg Cognitive neuroscience of human memory; effects of age and neuropathology on episodic memory

Bart P. Rypma The cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms of human memory and experimental methodology of functional magnetic resonance aging.

Noah J. Sasson Specifying cognitive processes in autism that underlie difficulties navigating the social world.

Kendra L. Seaman Learning, motivation, and decision making across the adult life span

L. Tres Thompson Cellular mechanisms of memory consolidation, maintenance and extinction; memory disruption by aging, experience, or metabolic insult; memory restoration by nootropics

Catherine A. Thorn Synaptic and circuit dynamics underlying basal ganglia dependent motor learning & habit formation; coordination of multiple memory systems

Gagan S. Wig Functional brain imaging of human brain networks across the lifespan.



The offices and research facilities of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences are located on UT Dallas’ Richardson campus, as well as in BBS centers located in Dallas near the campus of the UT Southwestern Medical Center. Facilities at all locations include classrooms and research laboratories for studies of neuroscience, psychology, and communication across the lifespan in both typical and clinical populations.

The PhD program in cognition and neuroscience offers exceptional research facilities on the Richardson campus, including state-of-the art laboratories for investigating neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, neurochemical, and neuropsychological processes, as well as for conducting advanced mathematical analyses and modeling. In addition, the school’s centers, such as the Center for BrainHealth and the Center for Vital Longevity, house outstanding research facilities for the study of cognitive neuroscience, including cutting-edge brain imaging technologies for identifying the neural signatures of learning, aging, and disease. Collaborative arrangements with the UT Southwestern Medical Center expand student research opportunities through additional access to clinical populations and neuroimaging facilities.

Degree Requirements

The PhD program in cognition and neuroscience is divided into two tracks: cognitive neuroscience and systems neuroscience. Coursework and some degree requirements differ between the two tracks, but all students are required to complete a minimum of 75 semester credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree. Program completion typically takes five years, although it is possible to meet all the requirements in four years. During the first two years of the program, each student works closely with the faculty in completing an empirical research project and in writing a substantive literature review or grant application. In the third year, students advance to PhD candidacy by successfully defending a proposal for their dissertation — an independent and original research project conducted under faculty supervision. Successful public defense of the completed dissertation is the final step in attaining the doctoral degree.

The UT Dallas graduate catalog provides information on degree requirements for the PhD in cognition and neuroscience; for updates please contact [email protected]. The university’s course look-up site, CourseBook, describes some of the program’s specific courses. The Office of Graduate Studies is able to provide information on academic and other policies.


The cognition and neuroscience PhD is a research degree. It is essential that there is a close match between a student’s research interests and the research interests and expertise of the faculty. Prospective students should contact faculty with whom they might share research interests. A primary consideration in PhD admission is a faculty member’s agreement to serve as the student’s mentor. The cognition and neuroscience admissions committee evaluates applications on several dimensions, including prior GPA, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, prior research and professional experience, commitment to scholarship, and fit between the research interests of the applicant and faculty.

Typically, applicants have an average undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above, and completion of an undergraduate degree in a related major is advisable. Completion of a master’s degree is not required. Applicants without a prior degree in a related field should contact the program head for prerequisite coursework.

Applications to the PhD program must include official transcripts, GRE scores, three letters of reference from people qualified to evaluate your potential for successful doctoral study, a CV, and a statement of purpose detailing your previous research and professional experiences, your current research interests, and your career goals.

International applicants must provide proof of English proficiency via TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE meeting university minimum requirements.

To Submit an Application

Please see the enrollment page of the UT Dallas Office of Graduate Admissions for details on how to submit an application to the PhD program in cognition and neuroscience.

Completed applications must be received on or before December 1 for admission the following fall. There are no spring or summer admissions.

You can check the status of your application using the university’s Orion program.

Questions about the application process can be directed to:

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
[email protected]

Financial Aid

Financial support of full-time doctoral students in cognition and neuroscience is awarded through teaching or research assistantship stipends and tuition scholarships. Admitted students are automatically considered for these sources of financial aid.

Other information on financial aid for graduate students is available on the UT Dallas graduate admissions page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Program Contacts

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
[email protected]

PhD Student Guide

The PhD student guide provides information on policies and procedures in the PhD programs in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

PhD Student Forms and Information

Degree Plans

Cognitive Neuroscience
Systems Neuroscience

Registration and Related Forms

Graduate Change of Program
Register, Add, Drop, Withdraw
Repeated Course Grade Adjustment
Transfer of Credit Request

Milestones and Annual Reporting Forms

Milestones Agreement Form
Cognition and Neuroscience Annual Report

Qualifying Papers and Projects

Cognitive Neuroscience Track

Systems Neuroscience Track


Committee Appointment Form
Dissertation Proposal Meeting
Public Presentation of Dissertation Proposal
Request for Final Oral Exam
In Absentia Registration
Memo – Absent Committee Member
Memo – Committee Member Attending Remotely
Checklist for Final Submission of Doctoral Dissertation

Teaching and Research Assistantship Forms and FAQs

TA/RA Responsibilities Form – 2016‐2017

Requests for Student Travel and Dissertation Support

Student Request for Travel Support
PhD Research Small Grants Program Application

Program Resources

Please visit the Office of Graduate studies for additional information on academic policies, PhD deadlines, PhD forms, guidelines for preparing dissertations, and a profile of characteristics of doctoral programs at UT Dallas.

Student Achievement Data

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