DBCS: Discover Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Have you ever wondered…

  • How memories are formed and stored in the brain?
  • How to design and build artificial intelligent systems?
  • How the brain gives rise to the mind?
  • How experience shapes our perception of the world?
  • How we form habits in our daily life?
  • How we learn and process language?
  • How diseases of the brain can result in changes in behavior?
  • How to design and build interfaces between neurons and artificial hardware?

… Then the Brain and Cognitive Sciences FPOP is for you!

MIT has been part of important breakthroughs in brain and cognitive science since 1964, and we feel privileged to contribute to the work of our peers. The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences was founded with a vision that the mysteries of the mind can only be solved through understanding the mechanisms of the brain. That vision has become the driving vision of the community as a whole. Today, we find ourselves at the forefront of discovery, and are excited about what the future holds. Our field is young and our most important work is ahead of us.

We also have a newly developed joint major with the Department Electrical Engineering and Computer Science focusing on the emerging field of computational and engineering approaches to brain science, cognition and machine intelligence. This new major in Computation and Cognition, will prepare students for careers that include advanced applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as further graduate study in systems and cognitive neuroscience.

BCS recognizes that to answer the biggest questions about the mind we cannot simply catalog details of the brain. Instead, our department champions the idea that we first seek to understand the computational problems that the brain must solve. This knowledge helps us delve into the mechanisms that help our brain execute a solution.

To do this, we must integrate analysis across multiple levels of:

  • Cognitive science– the study of the representations of the mind.
  • Systems neuroscience– the study of the algorithms and circuits that build those representations.
  • Cellular and molecular neuroscience– the study of the mechanisms that control the construction and maintenance of those circuits.

This integration requires computational approaches for building formal, testable bridges between all of these levels.

What Will We Do?

Highlights of this program include talks from BCS professors about their fascinating and cutting-edge work, a trip to see Phineas Gage's skull, a sheep's brain dissection (optional), watching neuroscience-related movies, and of course some free time to hang out with your fellow first year students, and ask upperclassmen about their experience with course 9!

Program Specifics