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So Many Area Titles in Psychology-Which area should I search for a program in?


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I've posted something like this in the interdisciplinary program forum already, but I thought I'd take a shot here as well. I've just graduated with a B.S. in Child & Family Studies and a minor in Psychology and have realized that I am much more interested in psychology/neuroscience than human service work. I'm very interested in my Behavioral Neuroscience class and my Cognitive Psychology class because they cover comparative topics--I'm interested in animals, first and foremost, and their behavior, communication, and biodiversity. However, I'm also interested in the neuroscience/behavior of autism and autistic children, specifically within the areas of hearing/language production and the way that they process music (related to music therapy?). 

I'm a great writer, a strong academic student (GPA 3.6) and I have one year of experience working with autistic children in a speech/occupational/ABA therapy setting as well as one semester (and continuing) of work under a music theorist in a music cognition lab at my university. 

Occupational therapy and music therapy are not options, as I've researched those careers and don't think they would be a good fit for me. I am trying to choose between a practice (speech-language pathology/audiology) route or research route.

That said, ignore anything about speech-language pathology for now. What I'm really asking you Psych people is, how should I search for a program in psychology/neuroscience based on my diverse interests? Just looking for other ways that I might be able to view a graduate program that could combine all of my interests. Thanks!

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Your interest seem a tad bit scatter. Within psychology, it is usually the case that if a lab does animal work, they usually don't do research on humans as well. I imagine this is so because if you're doing animal work, you now need to dedicate an entire lab to it. But now, what are you going to do with your human participants? Can't have them in the same room where you conduct your animal research can you? 

Anyways, in regards to cognitive neuroscience (a term you didn't mention but one that I will assume your interest fall within it's scope) if you're interested in speech / language & and how that relates to individuals with ASD, then you're probably going to want to look at labs that do neuro-imaging, that is, EEG, MEG, & fMRI. Usually these labs use one or two of the acronym tool soup i just mentioned, some even use all 3. Those are the main tools currently used for cognitive neuroscience (I should also mention TMS). If these terms seem alien to you, google them. 

Within the realm of cognitive neuroscience and studying ASD there are a ton of labs you can potentially look into. I myself am most familiar with cognitive neuroscience and cognitive science in general, and not "behavioral neuroscience" which at least to me seems like a term mostly used when doing animal research. I would suggest using google scholar or something similar to search for papers that peek you interest, read them, look at the universities and people associated with these papers and go from there. Also, look at the bibliography of these papers and repeat the steps above. 



Just wanted to add, you might want to take this time or spend an additional year beyond what you were initially planning on to get some research experience in a lab that best suits your interest. I do not say this lightly.

Edited by TenaciousBushLeaper
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2 hours ago, kittyoverthemoon said:

Thanks for your input! I may be living in a bit of my own type of fantasy world trying to find a program to include ALL of my interests. 

If you can't find a program that includes most of your interests, I'll paraphrase the advice from one of my professors (Cognitive Neuroscientist):

Go to a program that will give you the best education for the methodology in your field. If you had to choose between a full research interest fit and methodology, choose methodology, because once you have the skills on how to do something, you can apply to to answer any questions you have.

So I'd say look at papers that cover your research interests--what are the common methods being used across these disciplines? Then find a school that has the right balance between your current interests and giving you the skill set you need so that you can answer any questions as your interests shift/develop.

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