Stephen Cowen

Associate Professor, Cognition & Neural Systems
Director, Decision Making and Learning Laboratory
Cowen Headshot

Psychology 442 (Office)
Life Sciences North 347 (Lab)

He, Him, His

Research Interests: 

  • Understanding how the coordinated activities of groups of neurons and the release of dopamine in the brain contribute to learning, memory consolidation during sleep, and navigation.
  • Exploring how communication between neurons is disrupted in aging and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Development of novel instrumentation for visualizing and modulating brain activity, measuring dopamine release, and quantifying behavior to further the above research objectives.

Updated: 07/05/22

Selected Publications: 

  • Cowen S.L., Nitz D.A. (2014) Repeating Firing Fields of CA1 Neurons Shift Forward in Response to Increasing Angular Velocity, Journal of Neuroscience, 34(1):232-41.
  • Miller M.A., Thomé A, Cowen S.L. (2013) Intersection of Effort and Risk: Ethological and Neurobiological Perspectives, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7:208.
  • Cowen S.L., Davis G.A., Nitz D.A. (2012) Anterior cingulate neurons in the rat map anticipated effort and reward to their associated action sequences. Journal of Neurophysiology 107(9):2393–2407.
  • Cowen, S.L. and McNaughton, B.L (2007) Selective delay activity in the medial prefrontal cortex of the rat: The contribution of sensory-motor information and contingency. Journal of Neurophysiology, 98(1):303-16.
  • Maurer, A.P., Cowen, S.L., Burke, S.N., Barnes, C.A. and McNaughton, B.L. (2006) Phase precession in hippocampal interneurons showing strong functional coupling to individual pyramidal cells. The Journal of Neuroscience, 26:13485-13492.


Courses Taught:

  • PSY 230 - Measurement & Statistics (2020)
  • PSY 310 - Brain Waves (2024)
  • PSY 313 - Drugs and the Brain (2023)
  • PSY 413 - Drugs, Brain, & Behavior (2024)
  • PSY 506A - Neural Encoding, Memory, & Computation in the Mammalian Brain (2019)
  • PSY 510 - Graduate Statistics Fundamentals (2021)

*Year listed indicates when this individual last taught the specified course.

Updated: 11/13/23


  • Ph.D.