AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION
Biological Psychology covers a broad spectrum of topics including evolutionary, neurobiological, and molecular mechanisms of behavior. Research programs are interdisciplinary and interact with programs across the biological sciences community at UC Davis. Research topics include neurobiology of monogamy, psychoneuroimmunology, evolutionary neurobiology, mathematical modeling of social behavior, environmental psychology, mate choice and reproductive relationships, effects of stress on social behavior, epigenetics and social behavior, and neurobiology of learning and memory. Students in Biological Psychology have access to a variety of approaches for their research programs. Advanced techniques in behavioral neuroscience are available including electrophysiology, imaging, and molecular techniques.
The developmental area is a research-oriented graduate program focused on development throughout life and its applications. Faculty are prominent in their fields, skilled at mentoring students, and professionally active, involving their students in exciting and cutting-edge research programs. The wide range of faculty expertise facilitates research in many different areas of study, emphasizing close faculty-student collaboration, and interdisciplinary research is encouraged. Research topics include issues in developmental neuroscience in typical and atypical populations, symbolic representation in infants and children, children's psychological understanding and theory of mind, memory development (e.g., trauma and memory development, eyewitness testimony, metamemory), language development, emotional processes (e.g., emotion regulation, emotion understanding), social development (e.g., parent-child attachment, self esteem, conscience and moral development, prosocial behavior), public policy and child development (e.g., divorce, child maltreatment, welfare), and more. Faculty conduct experimental and longitudinal research, as well as research in field settings. Basic and applied research is encouraged. State-of-the-art instruction in quantitative methods for developmental scientists is also provided. Additional training opportunities are available through the multidisciplinary Human Development Graduate Group and faculty in the Department of Human and Community Development and the MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute.
Perception, Cognition, and Cognitive Neuroscience Faculty members in the area investigate the processes and structures involved in high-level perception and human cognition, including the neural bases of these human attributes. To do this, they use diverse methods, including psychophysical, behavioral, electrophysiological (EEG/ERP), neuropsychological (patient studies), eye-tracking, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and neuroimaging (fMRI). Current research projects in perception include studies of motion and spatial orientation, including how the movement of observers and objects influence motor control such as during reaching and grasping. Research in cognition and cognitive neuroscience include studies of attention, awareness and consciousness, cognitive control and frontal cortex function, learning and memory, working memory, language comprehension and reading, problem solving, reasoning, and music cognition. In addition, a new interdisciplinary emphasis in social cognitive neuroscience is being developed. Studies involve work in healthy adult observers, neurological patients with focal brain damage including amnesia and aphasia, psychiatric patients include schizophrenic populations, and infants and children.
The quantitative program emphasizes applied methods for the analysis of data resulting from psychological experiments and correlational studies. The program covers standard topics, including analysis of variance, regression analysis, and multivariate analysis. More advanced courses are offered in structural equation modeling, factor analysis, hierarchical linear and nonlinear modeling, psychometric theory, and longitudinal data analysis. Research by faculty concerns the advancement of these techniques as well as their application to the study of individual differences in behaviors, such as cognitive development and psychological health.
The goal of graduate training in Social/Personality Psychology at UC Davis is to produce researchers and teachers of the highest caliber. The program provides intensive training in research methods, statistical analysis, and a wide array of theoretical perspectives focusing on several major issues in social and personality psychology. Members of the program study the affective, cognitive, socio-cultural, biological, and developmental underpinnings of human behavior, using a variety of methodological strategies. These methods range from archival and field-observational methods to computerized reaction-time tasks and neuroscientific techniques. Areas of emphasis include: Attitudes and Social Cognition, Emotion, Ethnicity and Culture, Intergroup Processes: Stigma, Prejudice, and Stereotyping, Personality Processes and Development, and Self and Social Identity.