Cognitive and brain sciences Health and medical sciences

Cognitive and brain sciences Health and medical sciences

Deciphering the operations of the mind and brain is one of the greatest scientific challenges facing human society in the 21st century.

At Macquarie you’ll learn from world-class academics and experts to acquire strong research skills in fields including neuroscience, psychology, computer science, linguistics, philosophy, biology and anthropology.

Careers in cognitive and brain sciences

Careers in cognitive and brain scienceGraduates with a major in cognitive and brain sciences are equipped with an excellent foundation to pursue various careers.

If you are passionate about research we offer the Master of Research (MRes) degree and the PhD degree.

If you are keen to apply your cognitive and brain science skills in the “real world”, there are a number of career options including:

  • health and medical research,
  • health and community care services, information technology,
  • web, software and data science, science,
  • technical media and communications.

Graduate outcomes

Johnathan McGuireDr Jonathan McGuire, PhD
Senior Data Analyst at the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales.

“I originally chose to study cognitive science because I was fascinated by how strongly people disagreed about morality. Conclusions that seemed really obvious to me seemed absolutely wrong to other people, and I wanted to understand how it could be that people could come to such different conclusions about something so important”.

 “I’m now working in government in the field of mental health system reform. Studying cognitive science helped me to develop useful skills in writing, statistics, and scientific and critical thinking. But beyond that, my studies also helped me to develop my ‘soft skills’, which have been absolutely crucial for my work in mental health system reform.”

Rochelle CoxRochelle Cox, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow - Cognitive Science

"I enjoy studying cognitive science because it allows me to study fascinating and unusual topics such as belief formation and hypnosis. I use hypnosis to investigate mistaken beliefs and delusions.

One aspect of my work involves designing and conducting creative experiments to investigate issues that I feel passionate about. It is wonderful to travel to conferences where I can present my research findings and and meet others who share similar interests.

A highlight of my job involves developing my science communication skills, where I showcase my research to both colleagues and the wider community. Seeing other people become intrigued and excited about my research is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career."

Student experience

Lina TeichmannLina Teichmann
Master of Research student 

"Macquarie is a modern university with a diverse research environment. Cognitive science at Macquarie touches many different fields of study such as psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and computer science. It helped me build a solid foundation in these areas and deepened my understanding of the brain, which is critical to the diagnosis and therapy of cognitive disorders.

One of the many highlights of my studies was when I finished the data collection. I felt great when I saw that all my work paid off in the form of meaningful outcomes. The opportunities to discuss my research and connect with leading researchers from all over the world was also exciting and inspiring. I feel supported in reaching my career goals and I'm confident about the possibilities that my degree offers in sectors such as medicine, artificial intelligence, marketing and economy."

Kate Hardwick
PhD Candidate, Cognitive Science

Our expertise in cognitive and brain sciences

Cognitive and brain science expertiseMacquarie University’s ground-breaking research is recognised at both at a national and global level over a wide range of cognitive and brain science areas including:

  • belief formation
  • collective cognition
  • language
  • memory
  • perception in action
  • reading

Macquarie University also hosts the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, which brings together researchers from the Departments of Cognitive Science, Psychology and Linguistics at Macquarie University and thirteen other national and international institutions.

Our research informs the work of the Macquarie University Cognition Clinic for Reading, which is making life changing differences for children with reading and spelling difficulties.

Leading research in brain plasticity

Dr Alexandra WoolgarDr Alexandra Woolgar’s work was the first to demonstrate that many human brain regions are adaptive. Once thought of as a fixed input/output system, the brain turns out to be far more dynamic, interactive and flexible than previously imagined.

Dr Woolgar has been instrumental in developing new methods for neuroimaging that allow probing of brain activation in new ways. These methods go much further than simply asking which regions of the brain are active but also what information is represented by those active regions. This research has changed the way that human brain function is understood and leads into deeper questions regarding what information is coded into difference brain regions.

Non-invasive imaging such as MEG provides millisecond-level information about the temporal sequence of activity in different brain areas. Not only does this facilitate the identification of what information is coded where, but also the precise moment when coding occurs in the brain. This provided fundamental insights into how information is processed through time across different regions in the brain.

Innovative Technologies


Cognitive science facilitiesMacquarie University’s expert research teams conduct their cognitive and brain science research in state-of-the-art facilities. You will have the opportunity to work with our research teams and gain access to some of our high quality facilities that:

  • Measure magnetic activity produced by brain cells using magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Record electrical activity produced by the brain cells using event-related potentials (ERP), electroencephalography (EEG), and fixation related potentials (FRPs)
  • Stimulate the brain using magnetism (transcranial magnetic stimulation; TMS) or electricity (transcranial direct current stimulation; tDCS)
  • Track human body movements such as reaching or grasping
  • Monitor eye movements whilst people are look at scenes or reading
  • Assess how quickly or accurately people respond to stimuli such a images, sounds, words.
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