From June 1 to August 15 the HSE will be accepting applications from Russian citizens for the English language Master’s programme ‘Cognitive sciences: from neurons to cognition’ (international students can file applications at any time until July 15). A competition for funded places is open to students with a wide variety of specialisations and will be judged on their portfolios.
The programme is for people who want to find the answer to one of the most important riddles of our time ‘How does the mind emerge?’, explains programme director Vasily Klucharev. ‘How do we process information and make decisions? What are the mechanisms of attention and memory? Is it possible to understand the deep mechanisms of how propaganda and advertising influence our behaviour? To answer these and many other questions, our students will be studying psychological, biological, economic and evolutionary approaches to investigating the human mind.’
Vasily Klucharev assures us that his programme will enable students to take part in the technological revolution in cognitive sciences. These days we research brain activity using magnetic-resonance imaging, magnetoencephalography, transcranial magnetic stimulation and other high-technology methods. The programme organisers say that conditions at the HSE are just right to launch an education project in cognitive sciences on the wave of new technology. They have access to most of the latest technology in cognitive neurobiology available in Moscow with our programme partners (at the Laboratory of Developmental Behavioural Genetics, Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Education, the HSE Laboratory of Cognitive Research, the Centre for Neurocognitive Research at the Moscow City University of Education and Psychology).
There are people who are prepared to train us in these new technologies, in particular Yuri Shtyrov, a professor on the Master’s programme and one of the most cited Russian cognitive neurobiologists, the remarkable neurobiologist Russian Academy of Sciences Academician Mikhail Ugrumov, the well-known neuropsychologist Maria Falikman and Yulia Kovas – specialist on behavioural genetics and winner of one of Russia’s mega-grants, not to mention many others besides.
The teaching plan for the programme is divided into two specialisations: cognitive psychology and cognitive neurobiology. The first includes courses on how we process information and the role of attention and memory. The second is about the connections between brain activity and cognitive processes, behaviour and decision making. This specialisation includes courses on neuroeconomics, behavioural genetics, the neurobiology of perception and other disciplines which explain the mechanisms of human behaviour.
The wealth of contemporary methods of cognitive psychology and neurobiology reveal new horizons for researchers in a huge range of specialist areas in explaining human behaviour and makes an interdisciplinary approach particularly relevant. Which is why we are hoping that not just psychologist and biologists will apply but also mathematicians, linguists, economists - all those who are interested in research in cognitive psychology and neurobiology. To help them all use the same terminology and speak the same language, we will run three adaptation courses at the beginning of the year on mathematics, neurobiology and clinical psychology.
All subjects that make up the programme are taught in English. The best students will be offered a stageand if they wish, the chance to continue their studies in one of our European partner universities, at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris or the Neurobiological Cognitive Centre at Aarhus University in Denmark or the department of cognitive brain research at Helsinki University.
Graduates of this Master’s programme also could find themselves in demand in applied research in medicine, neurobiology and psychophysiology. On the basis of our understanding of how the brain works new technology is being created today to develop the interface between computers and the brain, and to develop technology for pre-operational mapping (a procedure which helps us to avoid damaging the functionally important parts of the brain during neurosurgery).
In the selection process for the course those with a proven academic record will be given preference, particularly if they have published articles of taken part in conferences and research, projects or olympiads. Students may present certificates of English language qualifications or sit an entrance test in English.
'I would encourage all applicants to write in their letter of motivation about their interest in cognitive and neurobiological research, and explain why they want to be a successful researcher in this field. If you find the opportunity, I recommend visiting the HSE Centre of Neuroeconomics and Cognitive Research and also reading books relevant to the programme: for example, 'Gorizonty Cognitivnoi Psykhologii' (in Russian), edited by Maria Falikman and Vladimir Spiridonov, or the textbook 'Cognition, Brain and Conciousness: Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience', or some of the vast amount of literature on the subject, available in English', says Professor Klucharev.
He also recommends that you send a copy of your portfolio as soon as possible to the programme’s email address firstname.lastname@example.org and if you have questions, don’t be shy to ask and send them to him directly at email@example.com and to the programme coordinator Maria Bulatova firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ludmila Mezentseva, HSE News Service