The Program in Cognition & Perception spans multiple subareas of psychology, such as perception, attention, memory, categorization, language, emotion, decision-making, development, motor control, and cognitive neuroscience. How do we identify the letter "a"? How do we perceive depth and shape? What representational resources are innate? How do human cultures, and individual children, go beyond innate representational capacities? How do toddlers make decisions about their world? How are explicit and implicit memories coded in the brain? How do we inhibit inappropriate responses? How are sentences understood? How are new concepts acquired? How does attention affect perception?
In the Program in Cognition & Perception, students and faculty investigate how people perceive, think, and act. Research is central in our graduate training. Students are exposed to a broad range of knowledge in cognition and perception and they are trained to think creatively and to develop independent research careers. Students and faculty work closely with researchers in other departments and research centers: (Neural Science, Computer Science, Data Science, Linguistics, and Philosophy). Every week there are journal club discussions and talks by leading researchers that take place within the Psychology Department, in other NYU departments, and at other nearby schools in New York City (see Events link). Ready access to researchers at several great universities and to incredible cultural resources makes New York City a great place to study perception and cognition.
Our graduate students begin research immediately. Research includes behavioral methods as well as measurements of motor responses (arm and eye movements, locomotion), brain responses (using fMRI, MEG and EEG), perturbation of brain responses (using TMS) and other physiological measurements (e.g., hormone levels). Students typically work with one faculty mentor, although lab rotations and cross-lab collaborations are also frequent and encouraged. Ours is a highly collaborative Program with many research projects that combine the expertise of more than one faculty member. Students benefit from interaction with their faculty advisers and the lively exchange of research ideas among students, postdocs, and faculty at theCognition and Perception Area Seminar, many other research seminars and journal clubs in several research areas (Development, Decision-making, Concepts and Categorization, etc.) and our annual Miniconvention. As a result of this focus on research, our students publish regularly in high-impact journals and go on to become researchers at the best research universities and industrial laboratories.
Students in Cognition & Perception follow a rigorous, highly quantitative/computational curriculum of courses. Our curriculum is designed to help students master the skills required to accomplish high quality research. Within the first two years, most students have completed the bulk of our primary course requirements. We require students to three courses in Core Content areas, such as Memory, Perception, Attention, Cognitive Development, Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Neuroscience. In addition, we require all students to take at least two courses in quantitative methods, chosen from a wide array of options such as probability theory, simulation, advanced statistical methods, etc. In addition, there are advanced seminars in areas related to the research areas of the faculty and students.
A key aspect of our program is its strength in cognitive neuroscience. A key aspect of this is our full set of on-site, research-dedicated facilities for cognitive neuroscience research, including fMRI, EEG, MEG, TMS, etc. The Center for Brain Imaging and other cognitive neuroscience resources are designed to allow students the training and opportunity to become experts in cognitive neuroscience. Through a combination of course work and hands-on experience, students receive training in the techniques of cognitive neuroscience and apply these techniques to their chosen research questions.
The department is strong in graduate mentorship. Together with faculty from the Center for Neural Science and the Department of Neuroscience at the School of Medicine, faculty from the Department of Psychology participate in the monthly event series "Growing up in Science" (featured in Science), in which guests tell their life stories with an emphasis on struggles, detours, doubts, and failures. Many of our PhD students attend. The series organizer, Prof. Wei Ji Ma, is faculty in our department. The students learn outside of courses and labs, including several journal clubs (most student-organized). We also have developed a policy that encourages summer internships (e.g., in industry). Many students also participate in science advocacy through the Scientist Action and Advocacy Network. As a program and as a department we encourage student participation at all levels, including student representatives to Psychology and Program faculty meetings and faculty search committees.
Students join a laboratory and begin to design and carry out a research project in their first semester. Students are required to write up and present their research in our annual Miniconvention at the end of the first and second years, and also present their research in our Area Seminar during the fourth year. We encourage students to collaborate with more than one faculty member, including doing a full laboratory rotation or two. Students may work with primary Cognition & Perception faculty or with affiliates from other programs (e.g., Social Psychology) or departments (e.g., the Center for Neural Science).
We consider the best experience that students can have to become productive researchers is to carry out, write up, and present their research projects. The 1st- and 2nd-year research requirements emphasize this goal. The content and methods courses are designed to provide students with the context and tools they need to produce world-class research on their own. By and large our students are highly successful once they complete the Ph.D. Some students remain in academia, continuing on to postdoctoral research positions and faculty jobs. Because of the particularly string quantitative and computational training they receive, our graduates are in high demand for jobs in Data Science (mostly in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area) as well as other industry positions (e.g., with virtual/augmented-reality companies). After graduating, most of our students have gone on to research careers (see Alumni)
All students accepted into our graduate program are fully funded through the Henry M. MacCracken Program. MacCracken funding is provided through a combination of teaching assistantship, research assistantship, and fellowship, in proportions to be determined. The award package typically includes a full tuition scholarship, comprehensive health insurance and a stipend. Funding is typically guaranteed for five years, although students with substantial graduate credits or a Master's degree may only be guaranteed four years of support.
There is a very limited supply of subsidized housing available for graduate students which is generally used for a subset of each entering class to provide them the opportunity to get settled in New York City during their first year of residence.