The PhD in Educational Psychology with a Concentration in Educational Neuroscience is based on an emerging transdisciplinary field that incorporates findings, methods and theoretical perspectives from various fields, including cognitive neuroscience, learning sciences, cognitive science and educational psychology. The concentration is currently open only to educational psychology PhD students. However, graduate students from any program can enroll in the courses offered. In the future, we are considering opening a certificate program for PhD students across all majors.

Students in the Educational Neuroscience Concentration are expected to fulfill all requirements of the Educational Psychology PhD Program. In addition, they are expected to complete the concentration courses and other relevant courses offered by other departments (e.g., human development, psychology, anthropology, and computer science). For the concentration courses, the recommended progression is BEP570, BEP571 or BEP 670 (or both), and BEP 671.

Application Process

For more information on the program and the courses please check Educational Neuroscience Initiative website.  ​If you are interested in applying or have any questions, please email Firat Soylu (fsoylu@ua.edu). Please check the graduate school admissions website for more information on the application process.


Brain, Learning, and Education Lab (BLE)
Dr. Suarez Pellicioni is building the Brain, Learning, and Education Lab, aiming to investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms explaining math achievement and gains in math performance over time using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event-related potentials (ERPs), focusing on the role of both cognitive and affective factors.

Center for the Study of Ethical Development
The Center for the Study of Ethical Development (the Center) began in the early 1970s as faculty and students from various disciplines began to meet informally to discuss research on moral development.  The major activity of the Center has been research with the Defining Issues Test, a measure of moral judgment development.  However, attention has also been given to other research tools, especially as a wider conception of moral development has emerged.  This wider conception of moral development was proposed by James Rest in the early 1980s, and is referred to as “The Four Component Model of Morality.”

Embodied Learning Design and Educational Neuroscience (ELDEN) Lab 
The Embodied Learning Design and Educational Neuroscience Lab was founded in 2015 by Fırat Soylu. As the name implies, our work is within the newly emerging field of educational neuroscience. The current research in the ELDEN Lab mainly focuses on numerical cognition and mathematics learning, in addition to wider interests in STEM learning and computational modeling.  We conduct behavioral, neuroimaging, and design-based investigations for our research. Our goals are to provide multi-level (e.g., neural, cognitive, socio-cultural) explanations for how learning occurs in STEM domains through both lab and classroom studies, to formulate learning-design heuristics, and to design computational tools for learning. Our approach to issues in STEM learning is framed by embodied and evolutionary theories of cognition, meaning that we consider how bodily systems ground cognition and how cognitive abilities have evolved through reuse of existing sensorimotor systems.

Neuroscience of Education Research on Development (N.E.R.D.) Lab
The Neuroscience of Education Research on Development (N.E.R.D.) Lab studies how the human brain supports learning across the lifespan by examining the neurobiology of language processing and acquisition.  We use a variety of behavioral (eyetracking) and neuroimaging (EEG, fNIRS) methods to investigate how speech and gesture contribute to learning from childhood through adulthood in diverse populations.

Social, Emotional, and EDucational Neuroscience Lab
The Social, Emotional, and EDucational Neuroscience Lab, the SEED Neuroscience Lab, studies how to promote students’ social, emotional, and motivational development in educational settings by utilizing various neuroscientific research methods, including but not limited to, functional MRI (fMRI), structural MRI, psychological intervention, and computer simulation methods. We conduct research projects focusing on moral development and education, growth mindset, and effective educational interventions promoting positive youth development.


Dr. Hyemin Han

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience

Dr. Laura Morett

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience

Dr. Firat Soylu

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience

Dr. Macarena Suárez Pellicioni

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience

Educational Neuroscience
Math cognition
Cognition & Emotion


Dr. Stephen Thoma

Professor Emeritus, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience