Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscience research at the University of Colorado thrives across different departments and different areas of psychology. The following links highlight relevant resources and faculty profiles further down on this page.


Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

CU-Boulder and the Mind Research Network (MRN) of Albuquerque, New Mexico, have joined forces as the Intermountain Neuroimaging Consortium. This marks the start of a long-term collaboration between The Mind Research Network, based in Albuquerque, and CU-Boulder that will significantly enhance the neuroimaging capabilities of both organizations. Psychology and Neuroscience professor Marie Banich is the Executive Director of the Consortium. She is joined on the Executive Committee by Professors Lew Harvey, Kent Hutchison and Tor Wager as well as several key people from the Mind Research Network.

At the heart of the center is a state of the art Siemens 3T Trio Magnetic Resonance Imaging System. The scanner is located at CU-Boulder’s Center for Innovation and Creativity (CINC), which also houses the Janus supercomputer (see below), one of the 52 fastest computers in the world.

For more information see:

Electroencephalography (EEG, ERP)

Three faculty have laboratories with EEG recording capabilities. Tim Curran’s laboratory currently uses two 256-channel and one 128-channel EEG systems (Electrical Geodesics Inc.). The 256-channel systems are housed in the Muenzinger Psychology and Neuroscience Building (D458 & D464C). The 128-channel system is currently located at the Clinical and Translational Research Center on the Boulder Campus, where the system is being used in research examining drug effects on learning and memory. Tiffany Ito’s lab in the Muenzinger Psychology and Neuroscience Building houses 3 EEG systems (Neuroscan Synamps). Another full EEG system (Neuroscan Synamps) is housed in Al Kim’s lab at the Center for Innovation and Creativity. These systems are available for use by other faculty and graduate students.

Whole-Head Magnetoencephalography (MEG)

The Neuromagnetic Imaging Center, directed by Dr. Don Rojas, is located in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. The center currently houses a 4-D Neuroimaging 248-channel Model 3600 Neuromagnetometer with 64 EEG channels. The MEG system is available for use by other faculty and graduate students.

Computational Modeling

Our program emphasizes the use of computational models to inform our understanding of brain function. In particular, we aim to use our knowledge from other neuroscience methods (fMRI & EEG) to inform our computational models and vice-versa.


Researchers have access to the “Dream” computational cluster which consists of 26 computational nodes and a high speed RAID data storage array. Each computational node has two (2) latest generation Intel Nehalem 2.53GHz quad-core processors and 24GB of memory, yielding a cluster total of 208 processing cores and 624GB of memory. The RAID storage array has twenty-four (24) 1TB disk configured in a RAID6 configuration to provide the cluster with 20TB of high-speed, fault-tolerant data storage. Dream runs the 64-bit Kubuntu Linux OS. The Dream cluster was purchased as part of as part of the Determinants of Executive Function and Dysfunction center grant.


“Janus,” housed at CU-Boulder’s Center for Innovation and Creativity (CINC), is available for use by department researchers. Janus consists of 1368 compute nodes with a processing power of 184 Teraflops and 800TB of storage. At the time of writing, Janus is the 54th fastest supercomputer in the world and the 4th fastest academic computer in the US.

Cognitive Neuroscience Links


Cognitive Neuroscience Faculty

  • Marie T.  Banich, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (Cognitive) & Psychiatry
  • 303-492-6655
  • Neural bases of executive function and attentional control in normal and clinical populations; Integration of information across brain regions; Neural bases of the development of executive control during adolescence.
  • Kent Hutchison, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (Clinical)
  • 303-492-8662
  • I have focused on medications and/or psychosocial interventions that target the basic neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms that are involved in the development and maintenance of addiction. I have focused on genetic factors that might explain individual variation in the same basic neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms that influence the etiology of addiction.
  • Tiffany Ito, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (Social)
  • 303-492-5879
  • My research examines the neural bases of social behavior, focusing in particular on issues relevant to stereotyping, prejudice, and affect and emotion.  Specific topics being investigated include the neural basis of stereotype activation and inhibition and the processing of social cues from faces, primarily through event-related brain potentials and fMRI.
  • Vijay Mittal, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (Clinical)
  • 303-492-3303
  • The Mittal lab is working to develop an early identification program aimed at examining markers of susceptibility for the onset and course of serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia.
  • Yuko Munakata, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (Cognitive)
  • 303-735-5499
  • Memory development in prefrontal and posterior cortical areas, behavioral dissociations as a window onto the nature and organization of knowledge representations, computational and behavioral experiments informed by single-cell recording, lesion, and neuroimaging studies.
  • Randall O'Reilly, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (Cognitive)
  • 303-492-0054
  • I develop computational and formal models of the biological bases of cognition (computational cognitive neuroscience), focusing on specialization of function in and interactions between hippocampus, prefrontal cortex & basal ganglia, and posterior neocortex in learning, memory, attention, and controlled processing.
  • Tor Wager, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (Cognitive)
  • 303-492-7487
  • My research program focuses on the brain mechanisms underlying expectations and placebo effects, and their influences on brain systems involved in pain, emotion, and motivation. Dr. Wager is also actively involved in developing new analysis methods to enhance our ability to understand brain function using human neuroimaging.
  • Erik Willcutt, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (Clinical)
  • 303-492-3304
  • My research program focuses on the identification of etiological factors that lead to the development of psychopathology, with a specific focus on childhood disruptive disorders and learning disabilities. In addition to behavioral and molecular genetic studies, collaborative projects with Dr. Marie Banich, Dr. Tim Curran, and Dr. Randy O'Reilly employ techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, event-related potentials, and neural network modeling to identify the specific neural substrates that play a role in these disorders. By integrating these results with data from clinical studies, we hope to develop comprehensive models that explain how genetic and environmental risk factors influence brain development and lead to the final behavioral symptoms of these disorders.