About Princeton Neuroscience Institute

The Princeton Neuroscience Institute was created in embryonic form in the spring of 2004 under the leadership of Jonathan Cohen, Robert Bendheim and Lynn Bendheim Thoman Professor in Neuroscience, and David Tank, the Henry Hillman Professor in Molecular Biology.

In the fall of 2005, a proposal prepared by the two was scrutinized and endorsed by an external review committee of leading scientists from around the country. The Institute was approved by University trustees in the spring of 2006. Please see the article in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin detailing the launch of the new Institute.

Jon Cohen and David Tank serve as co-directors of the Institute (see a brief overview below). They view the Institute as a stimulus for teaching and research in neuroscience and related fields, as well as an impetus for collaboration and education in disciplines as wide ranging as economics and philosophy. Princeton collaborators come from an array of disciplines including mathematics, physics, engineering, chemistry, computer science, ecology and evolutionary biology, and economics.

The Institute places particular emphasis on the close connection between theory, modeling and experimentation using the most advanced technologies.

Co-Directors of the Institute

Jonathan Cohen and David Tank, Co-Directors of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, come from markedly different backgrounds but share a common vision — facts that make them ideally suited to direct this cross-disciplinary effort.

Cohen, whose specialty is cognitive neuroscience, joined the psychology faculty in 1998. His research focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying cognitive control, and their disturbance in psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression, using behavioral and brain imaging methods together with computational modeling. He was named director of the Center for the Study of Brain, Mind and Behavior when it was created in 2000 and was responsible for acquiring the center’s fMRI scanner. He also has directed the certificate program in neuroscience since it was established in 2001.

Jon Cohen (left) and David Tank, Co-Directors of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. {photo by Denise Applewhite}.

A graduate of Yale University, Cohen earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He did his internship and residency in psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Cohen earned his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Carnegie Mellon University in 1990, then served on the faculty there and at the University of Pittsburgh before coming to Princeton. He also directed the schools’ joint Clinical Cognitive Neuroscience Lab.

Tank joined the molecular biology and physics faculties in 2001. He develops and applies physics-based measurement techniques to study dynamic aspects of the nervous system, from the level of single neurons to the whole brain. He currently is investigating a form of neural activity important in holding and manipulating information in short-term memory.

Tank was a researcher from 1983 to 2001 at Bell Laboratories, where he also served for more than a decade as the director of the biological computation research department. He earned his B.S. in physics and mathematics from Case Western Reserve University and his Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Neuroscience Building

In the Fall of 2006, Rafael Moneo was chosen to design a two-building complex to house the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and the Department of Psychology. Work began in the spring of 2010, and the building was occupied in December 2013. The building covers 248,000 square feet and meets LEED Silver standards.

The building complex is part of a natural sciences neighborhood at the University, positioned immediately adjacent to the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics and the Department of Molecular Biology, and across the street from the departments of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.  The building features state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities, including space for three MRI scanners for neuroimaging, MEG, and cutting edge optical imaging and microscopy facilities. Please see the related story.

New PNI and Psychology building.Peretsman-Scully Hall (left), home of the Psychology Department, and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (right). {photo by Boutros AbiChedid}.