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Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience

Do you want to study the neural, genetic, hormonal and cognitive processes underlying behavior?

Graduate Students in Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience (BSN) recognize that behavior is a biological phenomenon controlled by neural systems that were shaped by natural selection. They seek to better understand neural systems and behavior through the study of evolution, development, and the proximate causes of behavior in genes, hormones, memory, and cognition.


Research conducted by BSN students often employs comparative approaches using more than one species, ranging from birds to rodents to primates. We address both basic science questions about the diversity of animal brains and behavior and translational questions related to disorders of memory and social cognition.

Our nonhuman animal laboratories are housed in the Rollins Research Building and at the Emory National Primate Research Center. Additional laboratory space is located in the Psychology Building. Some students expand their access to species by collaborating with Zoo Atlanta or by doing fieldwork.

Focus of Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience

The BSN concentration is distinct from related graduate programs in our diversity of approaches and our fundamental focus on behavior.

Work conducted in this concentration ranges among studies of neural systems using electrophysiology, fMRI, and neuroanatomical approaches, field and laboratory studies of behavior, cognition and memory, exploring the information conveyed by nonlinguistic communication signals, and quantification of gene expression following different behaviors.

While our research is conducted mostly, but not exclusively, in nonhuman animals as subjects, we translate the research questions, techniques and perspectives to studies with human subjects.

Career Possibilities

Students graduating from the Emory University Psychology Department with a BSN concentration obtain jobs as professors and researchers, public health practitioners, science outreach professionals, and as scientists in a variety of industry settings.