Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

The Psychological and Brain Sciences Department applies scientific methods to investigate what makes humans and animals “tick.”


Students in Colgate’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences explore provocative and important questions at multiple levels-of-analysis; from brain to behavior and everything in between. The following are some examples of the questions they ask:

  • How plastic is the nervous system; how does it develop and what experiences change it?
  • Does gesture train the brain for language learning and intercultural understanding?
  • How can we conquer biases and prejudices we don’t know we have?
  • How can we miss seeing what is right in front of us?
  • Are relationships literally good for the heart?
  • Is the clock of development preordained by genes?
  • Why are some people resilient to misfortune and others vulnerable to life’s stresses and bad habits?
  • What pleasures our brains as we behold great art?
Jen Tomlinson and students work at a computer while research subjects are monitored in the background
Students collecting psychophysiological data with Professor Tomlinson in the Relationships and Health Lab.

Join the effort to deploy a broad array of empirical methodologies and tools to answer these questions. The department emphasizes undergraduate research, offering world-class faculty and facilities, the challenge to conduct and write a senior thesis, and the ability to explore personal interests through credit-bearing, self-designed independent study.

Majors and Minors

Students may pursue a major or a minor in one of two related areas of study: psychological science or neuroscience:

Embrace scientific approaches to understanding sensation, motivation, perception, cognition, language, development, personality, psychological disorders, and social behavior. As a collective, psychological scientists study diverse species, individual and group processes, and cultures. They deploy techniques that capture processes at the level of the gene, the cell, the brain and brain systems, the individual organism, and the group.

Major in psychological scienceMinor in psychological science

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is the home of Colgate’s interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program, which is also affiliated with Colgate's Center for Language and Brain. Neuroscience is the scientific study of the anatomy and physiology of neurons and neural circuits. Colgate's Neuroscience Program is one of the first two established at undergraduate institutions in the United States, and focuses strongly on brain-behavior relationships. The interdisciplinary faculty members have appointments in psychological and brain sciences and in the Department of Biology. Majors take courses in neuroscience and psychological science, biology, chemistry, computer science, math, philosophy, and physics.

Major in neuroscience

Department Contacts

Chair: Bruce Hansen
Administrative assistant: Debra Linneman 
Office: Olin Hall
Phone: 315-228-7354

Honor Society

To recognize the academic accomplishments of its highest-achieving students, the department maintains a Colgate chapter of the Psi Chi National Honor Society.

To express interest in joining the Psi Chi National Honor Society, contact Professor Richard Braaten.