Psychological and Brain Sciences

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is committed to excellence in research and education. The 30 faculty, 75 graduate students, and many of the approximately 1800 undergraduate majors carry out leading edge research in these four areas: cognition, perception, and cognitive neuroscience (CPCN), developmental and evolutionary psychology (DEVO), neuroscience and behavior (N&B), and social psychology (Social).  The associated Brain Imaging Center, Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior, and Sage Center for the Study of the Mind contribute to the stimulating intellectual environment of the Department.


NOTICE:   Mary Hegarty, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences UCSB and Tim Shipley, Temple University are working on a project to understand the relations among internal visualization ability, navigation ability, and complex spatial thinking. As part of that project, we would like to collect data on self-reported navigation and visualization abilities across a wide range of academic disciplines. We have developed a questionnaire to assess visualization, navigation, and verbal abilities to see if individuals in different disciplines (e.g., chemistry, geology, mathematics) report different profiles of strengths.  The survey just takes a few minutes to complete and is on line at:

If you participate you will receive feedback on how your spatial abilities compare with those of hundreds of other participants in our survey.  We hope that you are willing to participate.

Click here to participate in the Psychology subject pool for course credit or PAY.


Highlighted below are professors representing the four areas in the department. 

In the CPCN area, Barry Giesbrecht's research is aimed at understanding the brain mechanisms underlying attention. In current work he and his colleagues are using computational algorithms applied to measures of neural activity to predict the successes and failures of attention when, and even before, they occur.

In the DEVO area, Jim Roney investigates the role of sex hormones in human mating psychology. One line of research has demonstrated that men exhibit rapid elevations in testosterone and cortisol concentrations after social interactions with young women, which is the same basic pattern exhibited by most nonhuman vertebrate males after exposure to potential mates.

In the Social area, Heejung Kim studies how people from different cultures (e.g. European and Asian) vary in the ways in which they express and communicate their thoughts, feelings and needs and, in turn, how individuals' psychological processes are affected by engaging in various acts of expression. 

In the N&B area, Karen Szumlinski's research focuses on the neurobiological bases of mental disease, including drug/alcohol addiction, psychosis and affective disorders.  Current studies employ a combination of neurochemical, genetic, and pharmacological approaches to determine the role that excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate plays in regulating brain function and behavior in animal models of mental disease.

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences offers BA degrees in Psychology and BS degrees in Bio-Psychology, as well as Ph.D. degrees in Psychology. Faculty research expertise spans neuroscience and behavior, cognitive and perceptual psychology, developmental and evolutionary psychology, and social psychology.