Cognitive Science (MBB)

The Cognitive Science Track in Psychology is one of the options available in the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative, which was formed to create an "interdisciplinary community of investigators whose research aims to elucidate the structure, function, evolution, development, and pathology of the nervous system in relation to human behavior and mental life." In psychology, this could take many forms, including studying the development of language in infants, the way in which our neurons process information and how this may be modeled by computer systems, or how we come to be aware of what we know. MBB is an honors-eligible only track, and requires an application for admission, a 3.5 College GPA at time of application, and a senior honors thesis.

This track allows students to combine coursework in Psychology with a few common courses in the MBB curriculum that focus on neuroscience and behavior (NEURO 80, an MBB seminar) and MBB symposiums and programs that bring together students from the various concentrations that participate in MBB. In many cases, students also take full advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of MBB to combine their psychology and MBB coursework with coursework in a related MBB area, such as computer science, linguistics, philosophy, or history and science. This track differs from the Cognitive Neuroscience & Evolutionary Psychology Track (in Life Sciences) in that it counts a smaller total number of biology-related courses toward concentration requirements, but allows a broader range of related coursework to be integrated and count toward requirements. In short, it is less a strict neuroscience track, and is more interdisciplinary than the Life Sciences track.

Course Sequence Recommendations for Students Considering the Cognitive Science MBB Track


Complete requirements can be found in the requirements chart. Below is a chart of recommended courses for the first two years. Students should consult with a Pre-Concentration Advisor or a Concentration Advisor for more guidance for more detailed advising beyond the second year.

Students who are strongly considering this track should plan on enrolling in the following during their first two years...

First Semester

Second Semester

Third Semester

Fourth Semester

Psychology 1
(see requirements chart for more details)

PSY 971 (Fall or Spring)

N/A

Basic Methods (Fall or Spring)
(Generally PSY 1900)

At least one of the following Foundational Courses during first two years:
PSY 14, PSY 15, PSY 16, PSY 18, or NEURO 80 (formerly MCB 80)*

** MCB 81 is no longer offered as of the 2018-19 academic year, but if you have taken it previously, it may count in lieu of NEURO 80.

Ideally, freshmen will take the Introductory Course by the end of their freshman year, and should complete at least one Foundational Course no later than the end of the sophomore year. Students must take NEURO 80 (MCB 81, if taken before Fall 2018, can count in lieu of NEURO 80), and then one additional Foundational Course from the following list...

  • PSY 14, Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSY 15, Social Psychology
  • PSY 16, Developmental Psychology (or SLS 15 if taken previously)
  • PST 18, Abnormal Psychology

In the third or fourth semester, students ordinarily enroll in PSY 971, Contemporary Issues in Psychology (Sophomore Tutorial) and the required Basic Methods course (either PSY 1900, Intro to Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences, or STAT 101, Intro to Quantitative Methods).

As part of the Research Methods requirement (PSY 1901 plus a lab), students must take a Lab Course. Students are encouraged to get involved in research as early as possible, and may want to complete the Lab Course component of the Research Methods requirement before the end of their sophomore year.

In addition to completing the course requirements for the Cognitive Science Track in Psychology, students must also complete MBB program-wide requirements, including participating in a non-credit junior symposium and a non-credit senior research workshop. Please see the MBB Certificate website for details.

If you have any more questions about the requirements for the MBB track, please contact the UGO at psychology@wjh.harvard.edu.