New name approved for Department of Psychology: Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Friday, April 24, 2015

On April 23, 2015, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved a new name for the Department of Psychology within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as  Provost Barry Butler has announced. The new name will be the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

There are two primary reasons for the name change. The field of psychology has undergone massive change over the last 30 years with the advent of noninvasive technology to measure human brain functioning, such as scalp-recorded EEG, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy. These techniques, among others, have opened up new doors for understanding how normal and disordered behavior is related to brain functioning. The department has embraced these changes in the discipline in both its teaching and research. As a result, the term "psychology" does not accurately represent either the current state or future direction of the department. By adding "Brain Sciences" the new name provides a more accurate umbrella to describe its teaching and research activities, and communicates its commitment to unlocking the links between brain and behavior to constituents both inside and outside of the university.

In addition, although the field of psychology is a science, many from outside the discipline understand psychology to be limited to clinical analysis and therapy. In reality, the department spans research and teaching from mapping neural circuits involved in learning and memory to understanding how social support impacts ovarian cancer progression. It also uses a wide variety of techniques, including single cell recording, behavioral neuroimaging, virtual environment technology, eye tracking, behavioral observation, gene sequencing, neuropsychological testing, and immunological assays. Changing “Psychology” to “Psychological Sciences” in the name provides a more accurate representation of what the department does to the outside world.

The new name went into effect on April 23, 2015.

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.