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 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.