Arts & Sciences School of Medicine

Unlocking the secrets of the human brain

Illustration by Daniel Fishel

Researchers in The Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences are using cutting-edge techniques to help us weather the challenges of everyday life.

Human behaviors and emotions can be as complex as any force of nature. From our biggest life choices to the subtle thoughts we barely notice, our minds are always at work. 

Inspired by the thoughts and emotions that drive our everyday lives, faculty in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences (PBS) are finding new ways to study the mind. From leveraging the power of cell phones for real-time monitoring to deploying sophisticated imaging techniques to better understand brain activity, this nationally recognized department is pushing scientific boundaries in a major way. 

“Our field is very dynamic, with new theories and methods coming online every day and broadening our view of the human condition,” said Jeff Zacks, PhD, department chair and the Edgar James Swift Professor in Arts & Sciences. “Increasingly, we’re going outside of the lab and into the brain.” 

This multifaceted approach has paid off. In the last year alone, PBS researchers have published a slew of attention-grabbing studies covering topics including our surprising motivations for moralitythe stark rural-urban personality divide, and the mental maps we build to navigate our world. “The department is going in a lot of exciting directions,” Zacks said.

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