A fundamental goal of neuroscience is to understand how the aggregated function of millions of individual neurons gives rise to the collective computations of the brain. Since the birth of neuroscience as a discipline, tremendous strides have been made in our understanding of the biophysical characteristics of neurons, and their interaction in small assemblies. In parallel, and on a larger scale, the relatively new sub-discipline of cognitive neuroscience has begun to make progress in characterizing the brain systems involved in higher-level mental functions, such as perception, memory, attention, decision making, and the control of action.
However, a large and critical gap remains between these "bottom-up" and "top-down" approaches: We still have relatively limited knowledge about how large-scale computations performed by collections of neurons give rise to system-level behavior. In synergy with the creation of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, a fundamental guiding principle for Princeton’s Ph.D. in Neuroscience is to train the scientists that will bridge this gap.