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Social and Decision Neuroscience PhD Program

The Caltech PhD program in social and decision neuroscience (SDN) prepares students to do research on the neurocomputational basis of decision making and social interactions.

SDN includes faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students from a variety of disciplines who are interested in how humans decide what to do in response to a range of decisions with important personal consequences. How do people make simple choices, such as choosing what to eat from a restaurant menu? How do we learn from trial-and-error behavior to make decisions in the future? How do people decide who might help or harm them? How do emotions such as fear and anxiety work biologically and change behavior? How does the brain process information and control emotions in complex markets like stocks? What factors influence candidate appeal and voting in politics?

Research in this area requires training in computational modeling, statistical methods, systems neuroscience, and neural measuring methods such as fMRI, EEG, or single unit recordings, as well as adequate understanding of related methods and results from the social sciences.

Students' career paths include faculty jobs in neuroscience, psychology, or marketing; faculty jobs in economics, political science, or finance programs; and industry positions in the technology, data science, finance, and neurotechnology sectors.