MBB (Cognitive Science)

The Cognitive Science (MBB) Track in Psychology


The Cognitive Science Track (commonly known as the MBB 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 can take many forms: studying the development of language in infants, the way in which our neurons process information and how this may be modeled by computer systems, how we come to be aware of what we know, and much more.

This track allows students to combine coursework in Psychology with a few common courses in the MBB curriculum that focus on neuroscience and behavior (namely, NEURO 80 and an MBB seminar). Concentrators in this track will also have the opportunity to participate in 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 Life Sciences (CNEP) Track 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.

The MBB Track requires an application for admission, a 3.5 College GPA at time of application, and a senior honors thesis.

Course Sequence Recommended for Students Considering the MBB Track

Complete requirements can be found in the "Mind/Brain/Behavior Track" column of the Requirements Chart

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

(Fall or Spring)

PSY 971 (Fall or Spring)


Research Methods:
PSY 1901 (Fall or Spring)

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, students will take the Introductory Course by the end of their first year, and should complete at least one Foundational Course by the end of their 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 should enroll in PSY 971, Contemporary Issues in Psychology (Sophomore Tutorial) and the required Research Methods course, PSY 1901, Methods of Behavioral Research. Students in the MBB track must also take a qualifying lab course as part of their Research Methods requirement. If you are planning to pursue the MBB track, we encourage you to get involved in research as early as possible - you may even want to enroll in a lab course by the end of your sophomore year.

If you find yourself with space in your schedule, you can also get a head start on fulfilling the Statistics requirement by taking PSY 1900, Intro to Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences.

In addition to completing the course requirements for the MBB 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 Undergraduate Office at psychology@wjh.harvard.edu!