Cognitive Neuroscience of Consciousness

Photo of students examining a model of the brain

  May 18July 25 | Up to 13 credits | Apply by May 15


This institute is open to current and visiting GW undergraduate students, particularly those with an interest in pursuing graduate study in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, medicine or clinical psychology with a focus on neuropsychology. Post-baccalaureate students who are pursuing graduate programs in psychology may also be interested in this program.


Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, continuing until all slots are filled. Therefore early applications receive priority consideration.

Program Description

What is consciousness and how does it arise in the brain? The Department of Psychology's new summer institute in Cognitive Neuroscience will offer students an opportunity to answer these questions. We will explore the minimal consciousness of sleep and anesthesia, the divided consciousness of hypnotism and schizophrenia, the limits of consciousness in infants and animals, the role of brain rhythms in states of awareness, zombie actions such as automatisms and blindsight, drugs and mystical experiences as windows into the mind, the brain bases of free will, the foundations of the self in the body and the emergence of ethical life from the theory of mind. Our curriculum will include classroom-based courses, a research practicum, field trips to imaging and brain stimulation labs and guest lectures by cutting edge workers in the field.

The curriculum will satisfy departmental requirements in cognitive neuroscience in a synergistic supportive manner. In addition, classroom and research experiences can be tailored to meet the needs of students interested in graduate study in cognitive neuroscience, medicine or clinical psychology. Students with a particular interest in cognitive neuroscience research will learn to program their own experiments.

The curriculum will satisfy 2/3 of the requirements for special honors in psychology and 3/4 of the requirements for a concentration in cognitive neuroscience. Ten credits will count toward the BA in Cognitive Neuroscience. All courses will count toward the psychology major and CCAS requirements.


PSYC 3122: Cognitive Neuroscience (3 credits)

PSYC 3120: Current Topics: Neuroscience of Consciousness (3 credits)

PSYC 4106W: Laboratory in Sensation and Perception (4 credits)

PSYC 4591: Independent Research (3 credits)

Prerequisites are PSYC 1001 (General Psychology) and PSYC 2101 (Research Methods) or the equivalent.

NOTE:  Students can take the full 13-hour package or 3 of the 4 courses. In some cases, other courses can be substituted for institute courses.  

Contact the director for questions about coursework or prerequisites.


The following reflects 2020 rates.

Tuition for this institute is  $14,153.75 (for 13 credits) which reflects a 35% discount rate. There will also be a $3.00 per credit hour Student Association Fee.

Tuition amounts are estimates, please check back in spring for final costs.

Financial aid may be available through certain non-federal student loans. This discounted program may be especially beneficial for students who wish to reduce their overall tuition costs, graduate a semester early and/or take a semester abroad.

Meet the Program Director

Dr. Stephen Dopkins, a member of the Cognitive Neuroscience faculty of the GW Psychology Department, will direct this institute; John Philbeck, the chair of the department, is co-director.