About the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences

The Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences (CLPS) was created in July 2010, through the integration of the Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences and the Department of Psychology. Both departments have had a long and distinguished history at Brown: The Department of Psychology was created in 1892, and the Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences was created in 1986 by merging the Department of Linguistics with the faculty participating in the Center for Cognitive Science. In June 2007, based in part on the external review of Psychology that year, the Provost approached the Chairs of the respective departments with the vision of integrating the two units to form a new department.

The creation of CLPS was part of a larger strategy of the University to both strengthen the two departments and build a leading center for the multidisciplinary study of mind, brain, behavior, and language. In the recent past, the two departments had taken complementary approaches to addressing common scientific questions. Since state-of-the-art research on these problems requires spanning several levels of analysis using a range of approaches and methodologies, the integration of the departments served to create an environment in which this intellectual synthesis could flourish. Part of Brown’s philosophy, reinforced by the Plan for Academic Enrichment initiated by President Ruth Simmons in 2001, was to build bridges between disciplines and to encourage multi- and interdisciplinary studies. The integration of the two departments reflected this philosophical approach.

Now housed in a completely renovated 36,000 sq. ft. building, the CLPS Department strives to be a leading center for the multidisciplinary study of mind, brain, behavior, and language. We study such phenomena as perception, thinking, learning, memory, attention, action, personality, speech, language processing, and linguistic structure. We examine the functional organization of these capacities, the representational and computational processes that underlie them, their neural bases, their development across the lifespan, and how they shape individual and social behavior. To this end, we use diverse methodologies, including psychophysical, cognitive, and behavioral experiments, formal analysis and computational modeling, neuroimaging, neuropsychological and neurophysiological studies, in both humans and other species. 

The CLPS Department is dedicated to research, teaching, and providing service to the University and the broader professional community. Our undergraduate concentrations in Psychology, Cognitive Science, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Linguistics are designed to educate our students broadly within the area of mind, brain, behavior, and language, and to provide a platform for students interested in pursuing advanced degrees in these areas for productive careers as teachers, scholars, and scientists. Through our lecture, laboratory, and seminar courses, academic advising, Honors Program, and many undergraduate research opportunities, we encourage students to think critically, to pursue scholarly topics freely, and to achieve scholarly excellence. We expect that these pursuits will prepare students for a lifetime of learning.

Our graduate programs in Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Linguistics are organized into broad areas of research: Perception, Cognition, Cognitive Neuroscience, Behavioral Neuroscience, Social Psychology, Psycholinguistics, and Theoretical Linguistics. Through seminars, scholarly projects, research, teaching experience, career development programs, and faculty mentoring, our graduate students are expected to develop the skills, expertise, and perspectives to pursue careers in teaching and research. Faculty members in CLPS are expected to contribute individually and collectively to the professional life of the University by offering students learning experiences and advising of the highest quality, by carrying out rigorous scientific research, and by promoting the success of scholarly research in improving society.