Feature

Penn State University's psychology department no longer treats neuroscience as a separate discipline within the psychological sciences. Through its Specialization in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) program, the department has blended the study of the brain with traditional areas of psychology.

Students enter SCAN from their graduate training programs in clinical, cognitive, industrial-organizational or social psychology to supplement their existing program with neuroscience coursework and research training. SCAN students also participate in cross-disciplinary work with other departments, including biology, kinesiology or biobehavioral health.

"Modern methods of neuroscience ought to be infused in areas of psychology across the board," says Kevin Murphy, PhD, head of the psychology department at Penn State.

Although psychology has long recognized the biological bases of behavior, Murphy says, neuroscience has not been well-integrated into the field. "However, neuroscience is now starting to show up in lots of different fields," he adds.

Since SCAN's launch in the fall of 2003, the psychology department has been incorporating a range of neuroscience methods into its traditional curriculum and research.

To continue to build the neuroscience program, the department plans to recruit five or six new faculty members with expertise in such areas as computational neuroscience, high-density electroencephalogram and structured and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

"This is an experiment in progress," Murphy says. "This award really helps us to launch this program with a bang."

--M. DITTMANN