Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
The Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (DCN) Program at the University of Denver is one of the few cognitive neuroscience programs in the world to emphasize the processes of development across the life span. This encompassing perspective results in a diverse yet highly interactive community, where graduate students can develop their particular interests while being informed by a wide range of approaches to cognitive neuroscience. Members of our faculty use a variety of methods to investigate cognitive neuroscience issues in typical, special, and brain-injured populations.
The Psychology Department includes programs in Developmental, Clinical Child, Cognitive, and Social psychology. The DCN program stands as a specialization within each of these areas of psychology while also bridging them with a common vision. Thus, a student in the DCN program is also a student in one of these four areas. The DCN program capitalizes on the interdisciplinary environment that exists within the Psychology Department and across other departments at the University of Denver, and with other universities in Colorado. The program includes course work in psychology, neuroscience, and biology, and participation in a wide range of research groups. Students are trained in a variety of research methods which are applied to a variety of normal and abnormal populations. These research methods include cognitive experiments, neuroimaging, psychophysiology, and both behavioral and molecular genetics. In addition to taking courses in the Psychology and Biology Departments, students can receive training through the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. For clinical students, this is one of the few programs that offer graduate level training in clinical child neuropsychology. The program is also distinctive in offering a special focus on social neuroscience.
Curriculum. Students enrolled in DCN learn essential anatomical, physiological, and psychopharmacological information about the developing brain. They also master various research methods for studying normal and abnormal development. The DCN program provides extensive training in all of these skills in five fundamental ways, through student research, coursework, internships, workshops, and research groups.
Research. The most important aspect of training is research conducted in close collaboration with a faculty mentor. Every student will have a primary advisor but will be able to work with any of the faculty members; our program emphasizes the availability of different types of input and accessibility of faculty from different areas.
Course work. To attain solid training in neuroscience methods, all students in the program will take three of these seven neuroscience courses: cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging, psychophysiology, psychoneuroimmunology, neural network modeling, behavioral neurology, and neuropharmacology. Students also take core courses in neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, and developmental psychology, and other courses to meet the requirements of the Department (e.g. in statistics and ethics), and their particular area, (i.e., additional courses in cognitive, developmental, clinical or social psychology.)
Internships. Students gain valuable hands-on experience through choosing practica in one of several areas: child clinical neuropsychology, neuroimaging, and research with abnormal populations, including children with autism, dyslexia, other speech and language disorders, ADHD, and various mental retardation syndromes. In addition, adjunct faculty from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center conduct research on schizophrenia, Huntington's and multiple sclerosis.
Workshops. Workshops on neuroimaging and behavioral and molecular genetics provide additional training in critical neuroscience research skills. DCN faculty and students are conducting research using both structural and functional neuroimaging.
Research Groups. Research mentors have periodic lab meetings at which students present their research. In addition, a number of research groups meet regularly, including the Neuroscience Research Group, the Autism Research Group, and the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group.
The Neuroscience Research Group, held at DU, brings together scientists from the greater Denver area (including the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and Colorado State University) who share an interest in neuroscience. The result is a rich and exciting interaction of various perspectives focused on understanding common questions.
Elysia Poggi Davis
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