Behavioural & Cognitive Neuroscience (BCN) Stream

The Behavioural & Cognitive Neuroscience (BCN) graduate program reflects the multidisciplinary nature of the neurosciences. Behavioural & Cognitive Neuroscience integrates concepts and methods from psychology and cognitive science with those from biology, physiology, and pharmacology  in the study of the neurological underpinnings of behaviour and cognition.

Behaviour ultimately reflects brain function; understanding brain function helps us to understand behaviour. Research in behavioural & cognitive neuroscience may be on any of a number of levels of analysis, ranging from the single cell to the whole organism, and involves the use of a wide range of techniques and behavioural measures in studies of humans and other animals.


  • To prepare students to be at the forefront of research in behavioural and cognitive neuroscience by providing both a broad background and focused, in-depth knowledge of modern approaches to both neuroscientific and behavioural/cognitive disciplines.
  • We are committed to training outstanding students for independent applied or basic research careers in academic, medical, public, or private institutions. Graduate training in our program is tailored to each student. We use an apprenticeship model, in which students work closely with a faculty supervisor and with a supervisory committee comprised of other faculty members of the student’s choice.
  • Students are given opportunities to conduct research also with other faculty members and graduate students. Students are expected to disseminate their research findings to the greater research community through participation in regional, national, or international conferences.
  • Travel awards and travel assistance are readily available from the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Psychology Department, and faculty mentors. Students are encouraged to publish their research in scientific journals as part of their training and to meet their career objectives.

Nature of the Program

  • Mentorship model characterized by close, collaborative interactions among faculty and students.
  • Individualized program of study that draws on breadth of faculty interests and expertise within the program and from departments and programs across the university.
  • Few traditional core courses are required.
  • The curriculum emphasizes seminars where faculty and graduate students meet regularly to discuss current journal articles and review chapters from the field of behavioural and cognitive neuroscience, and seminars where graduate students and faculty across labs discuss their ongoing research projects.
  • Financial support for dissemination of research to the scientific community.
  • Opportunities to gain teaching expertise through teaching apprenticeship, teaching assistantships, and lectureships.

Research Environment

  • The core faculty in the Behavioural & Cognitive Neuroscience Program have active, productive research labs and have national/international reputations. The faculty research programs represent diverse facets of behavioural and cognitive neuroscience and are supported by funding from agencies such as NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR, and CFI. Most faculty members of the Behavioural & Cognitive Neuroscience Program are also members of the Centre for Neuroscience, which provides opportunities for collegial, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research. Faculty labs are equipped for many techniques including electrophysiological and other psychophysiological recordings, neuroanatomical and neurophysiological measures such as immunohistochemistry, radioimmunoassay, enzyme-linked immunoassays, analysis of neuroimaging data (fMRI), and the analysis and quantification of a wide-variety of cognitive and social behaviours

Key Research Questions

  • the neural correlates of attentional processes.
  • behavioural and electrophysiological investigations of language, especially with respect to sentence processing
  • electrophysiological investigation of visual information processing.
  • developmental and age-related change in cognitive and emotional function.
  • electrophysiological investigation of sleep.
  • consequences of sleep deprivation.
  • behavioural and electrophysiological investigations of dual-task attention.
  • the long-term sequelae of closed head injury.
  • the relationship between performance and neuroendocrine function.
  • role of experience in early life and in adolescence in shaping brain development and later vulnerability for depression, anxiety, and drug abuse using animal models.
  • electrophysiological correlates of risk-taking behaviours and individual differences in sensitivity to rewards and punishments.
  • the development of perceptual expertise, with an emphasis on face perception.
  • the impact of early experience on perceptual and cognitive development.
  • functional neuroimaging of visual short-term memory and perception.

What our students have access to 

Various tools and approaches to studying neuroscience, including

  • EEG
  • Eye-tracking
  • Behavioural modelling
  • Neuropsychology
  • Analysis of neuroimaging dada (fMRI)
  • Involvment in Brock’s Cognitive Brain Research Interest Group & the Centre for Neuroscience

BCN Faculty

  • Karen Arnell:   attention, emotion, individual differences, EEG, multitasking
  • Karen Campbell*:   neurocognitive aging attention, memory fMRI, EEG/ERPs, effective and functional connectivity, eyetracking
  • Kimberly Cote: human performance, attention, cognition, emotion, EEG/ERPs
  • Veena Dwivedi: language processing, ERPs, individual differences, emotion and affect, self-paced reading
  • Stephen Emrich:   visual working memory & attention, conscious perception, EEG and fMRI
  • Dawn Good:   cognitive neuropsychology and traumatic brain injury
  • Cheryl McCormick:   effects of stress and sex hormones on brain development
  • Cathy Mondloch:  face recognition and emotion perception across the lifespan
  • Cameron Muir:   neuroneuroendocrinology and reproductive & stress physiology
  • Tim Murphy:  sleep deprivation, ERPs, risk assessment and performance monitoring
  • Sid Segalowitz: EEG/ERP markers of processing meaning in visual stimuli (in faces, scenes, words), and individual differences related to personality and development

*Current or + former Canada Research Chair (CRC)