Centers & Initiatives

Carney Institute for Brain Science

The Carney Institute for Brain Science (CIBS) advances multidisciplinary research, technology development, and training in the brain sciences and works to establish Brown University as an internationally recognized leader in brain research. CIBS unites more than 100 faculty from a diverse group of departments at Brown, spanning basic and clinical departments, and physical and biological sciences. CIBS provides a mechanism to advance interdisciplinary research efforts among this broad group. CIBS provides essential support to obtain and administer multi-investigator grants for research, infrastructure, and training. The Institute actively seeks new training funds to support interdisciplinary education that transcends that available in individual academic departments.

As one of its core missions, the Institute is developing and supporting a series of interdisciplinary research centers that focus on established or emerging areas of excellence in brain research at Brown. Each center bridges the physical and life sciences, and encompasses basic and translational research, including clinical application. The Center for Vision Research was created in 2007. Initiatives in Neurotechnology and in Synaptic and Neurodegenerative Disease are underway. CIBS has also established an MRI Research Facility and an Behavioral Analysis Core Facility.

The existence of Brain Science as an overall organizing entity for a series of research centers and core facilities demonstrates the university's ongoing support for brain science research at Brown. This commitment will help to attract top faculty and students to Brown, enable higher quality research and establish Brown as a worldwide leader in brain science.

 


 

Brown Initiative for Computation in Brain and Mind

Computational methods have been enormously productive for understanding complexities inherent in natural systems — from the weather to aerodynamics, physics, and biology. The brain is perhaps the most complex (and interesting!) of these systems. The problem of understanding the relationship between brain and mind is so immensely complex that a close interaction among theorists and experimentalists is required to gain a deeper understanding of fundamental brain and cognitive processes. Because of the many levels spanning from molecules to cognition, multiple levels of computer simulations – from those focused on details of neuronal function to those focused on the abstract computations that emerge from these networks – can be fruitfully applied to bridge this gap. Brown's Computation in Brain and Mind is a place where these types of interactions regularly occur across faculty members and across students at all levels.

 


 

Data Science Initiative

Brown’s Data Science Initiative (DSI) is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between four core foundational departments (Applied Mathematics, Biostatistics, Computer Science, and Mathematics) to catalyze data-enabled science and scholarship across the campus. The collaborations between these departments deepens Brown’s the data science expertise, and creates new opportunities for innovation in both the methods and the applications of Data Science.

Brown’s Data Science Initiative leverages established academic strength to build a campus hub for research and education in foundational methodologies of data science, maintaining an outward focus on application areas and critical engagement with questions of the impact of the data revolution on society, culture, and social justice. For more info, see here.

 


 

Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative    

The Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative (HCRI) is a group of Brown University faculty, students, and affiliates dedicated to robotics as a means to tackle the problems the world faces today. Beyond pursuing the goal of technological advancement, HCRI wants to ensure that these advancements are applicable and beneficial economically and socially. HCRI is working across many disciplines to document the societal needs and applications of human-robot interaction research as well as the ethical, legal, and economic questions that will arise with its development. Their research ultimately aims to help create and understand robots that coexist harmoniously with humans.

The study of decision making covers descriptive questions like how people, institutions, and nations make judgments and decisions; normative questions about rationality, such as what constitutes the best judgments and decisions; and prescriptive questions, such as how the process of decision making can be improved to make actual decisions closer to optimal ones. By virtue of its broad interdisciplinary nature, the study of decision making covers work found in a variety of more traditional disciplines including psychology, cognitive science, economics, philosophy, computer science, and neuroscience. The concentration is designed so that students develop a foundation in the science of human decision making, acquire expertise in at least two of the core areas of decision making (psychology, economics, computer science, and philosophy), and learn about applications of the science of decision making. In the process, students will learn how to apply quantitative and other research methods and will produce a piece of integrative research.

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Cognitive Neuroscience (COGN) is the study of higher cognitive functions in humans and its underlying neural bases. By definition, it is an integrative area of study drawing principally from cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics. There are two broad directions which can be taken in this concentration—one is behavioral/experimental and the other is computational/modeling. In either case, the goal is to understand the nature of cognition from a neural perspective.

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Cognitive Science (COGS) uses scientific methods of experimentation, computational modeling, and brain imaging to study mental abilities such as perception, action, memory, cognition, speech, and language, as well as the development of those processes. Students must become knowledgeable in four areas of emphasis: perception, cognition, language, and cognitive neuroscience, as well as a set of methods relevant to Cognitive Science research. Students then create their own focus area of study, potentially integrating coursework from the Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences department with a diverse subset of fields including Anthropology, Applied Math, Education, Neuroscience, and Philosophy.

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Linguistics (LING) is designed to give students a background in the basic “core” areas concerned with the structure of language (phonetics, phonology, syntax, and semantics) and to allow students to concentrate more heavily in these areas of theoretical linguistics and/or to build on these areas to concentrate on areas such as child language acquisition, language processing, neurolinguistics (among others). Other areas such as historical linguistics or applications of linguistic theory to the study of the structure of various languages can also be pursued in conjunction with offerings in other departments. The electives include a number of courses in related departments, and the breadth of the field offers students flexibility in designing their concentration.

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Psychology (PSYC) encompasses a range of phenomena and levels of analysis in pursuit of three goals: to deepen our understanding of cognitive and neural mechanisms of sensation, perception, learning and emotion; to probe the biological and evolutionary foundations of animal behavior; and to clarify the social perception and assessment of individuals and groups. In contrast to the other concentrations in this department, the Psychology concentration places the greatest emphasis on understanding human and animal behavior at different levels of analysis – biological, neural, evolutionary, cognitive, developmental, and social.  Students choosing this concentration are often interested in clinical and mental health issues, and will be well prepared for careers in medicine, law, education, business administration, as well as both clinical and experimental psychology.

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