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The Columbia Summer Practicum in Global Neuroscience: Next Gen Scholars of Consciousness is a global program that gives enrolled students the opportunity to take a deep dive into the field of Neuroscience of Consciousness, one of the hottest topics in the sciences. Taking part in the course will allow students to develop a network of international researchers, first by meeting with them in the classroom, and then by attending the annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC). Students will have the opportunity to practice how to discuss, conduct, and analyze research studies that draw on current state-of-the-art technological advancements in neuroscience of consciousness. The program will take place in Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2024.

Eligibility and Application

  • Open to undergraduate Columbia and Barnard students in good academic and disciplinary standing. This program is also open to visiting students from other universities.
  • Students are expected to have basic knowledge of the nervous system, and completed some coursework in one of the following departments: Psychology, Neuroscience, Biology OR possess a strong computational and statistical background (e.g., Computer Science, Statistics Departments).
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA.

How to apply?

Want to apply? Click the “Start Your Application" button at the top of this page. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications. You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:

  • Application questionnaire(s)
  • Personal statement
  • Official transcript(s)
  • Resume
  • Academic Recommendation
  • Interview may be requested


PSYC3226OC: Columbia Summer Practicum in Global Neuroscience. 4 points.

Instructor Alfredo Spagna, Department of Psychology

Modern theories attempt to characterize the human mind in terms of information processing. But machines that process information do not seem to feel anything; a computer may for instance receive inputs from a video camera, yet it would be hard to imagine that it sees or experiences the vividness of colors like we do. This course explores behaviors by understanding the influences of biological processes. What does a prototypical neuron look like? How do neurons talk to each other? How does neuronal communication produce behavior? Then we will move into asking deeper questions like: What happens in the brain when you want to move? Why do we dream? How do we form memories? Nobody has yet provided a convincing theory as to how to explain the subjective nature of our mental lives in objective physical terms. Over four weeks, the Columbia Summer Practicum in Global Neuroscience: Next Gen Scholars of Consciousness (NGSC’24) attempts to provide a strong introductory foundation to the field of human neuroscience.

Specifically, the course will:

1) Introduce theories, research, and experiments that provided the basis for most debates on consciousness and perception.

2) Provide overview of structure and function of sense organs and discussion on the role of psychophysical and neurophysiological experiments in providing insights in our understanding of consciousness.

3) Introduce case studies from neuropsychological patients for discussion, with the goal of demonstrating how data from patients with specific types of brain damage provide important insights into the neural bases of normal cognitive functioning.

4) Meld together the data from both the behavioral evidence and neurobiological sources how consciousness is instantiated in the brain, and how it is mapped onto specific brain networks and the nature of the calculations performed in the different nodes within these networks.


The course will meet for a week of virtual study between June 3rd and June 7th. Classes will take place from 10am -12:30pm, and students will be expected to prepare for and attend class, and complete all homework. The course will then meet in person in Tokyo, Japan for three weeks, including the ASSC conference.

Week 1: Monday June 3 - Friday June 7Virtual classes (Daily, 10am - 12:30pm)
Week 2: Monday June 10 - Friday 14No classes/prepare for travel
Weeks 3 - 5: Monday June 17 - Friday July 5Classes and ASSC Conference in Tokyo

Students should expect to arrive in Tokyo on Saturday June 15th and depart on Saturday July 6th.


Grading Policy

Click here for the Columbia summer program grading policies.


Upon successful completion of the program, grades are entered into Columbia's online grading system.

No credit is granted to students who do not complete the full program.

Columbia students: Grades appear on SSOL and your transcript as semester grades from courses taken at Columbia. For more information, please see the section on Academic Credit in Steps to Study Abroad.

Barnard students: Grades appear on eBear and your transcript as any semester grades from courses taken at Barnard. For more information, please see the section on Credit and Transcripts for Barnard Students on our Barnard student pages.

Life in Tokyo

Students will live in a University of Tokyo-affiliated residence hall and take classes on the campus of the University of Tokyo. More details regarding housing and excursions will be added soon.


Program Director: Alfredo Spagna

Alfredo Spagna, is a Faculty of the Psychology Department and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Neuroscience and Behavior Major. His teaches a variety of lecture and seminar courses for the Psychology Department, including Behavioral Neuroscience (UN2450), Human Neuropsychology (UN2470), Attention and Perception seminar (GU4229), Consciousness and Attention seminar (GU4225), and a newly created Human Neuroimaging Course (GU4990) that will be delivered starting Fall2020. His research interests span across different but related fields, including attention, perception, consciousness, and visual mental imagery and mainly on healthy adults. His involvement in international and national research grants is at the core of the program, since enrollees will be visiting the labs in which the Program Director international research collaboration is ongoing.

Program Coordinator: Zhexi Shan ’22GS

Zhexi is a double-major graduate of the Columbia University School of General Studies, with degrees in Linguistics and Statistics. His experiences include being the founding creator for Duolingo’s “Chinese for English Speakers” course, organizing NYC Pride marches, volunteering for the Olympics, and serving as a Student Representative on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Statistics Department. More recently, Zhexi served as Teaching Assistant for renowned American linguist, John McWhorter, on the Introduction to Linguistics course at Columbia, before working as the Localization Account Manager for Google. He continues to be involved as an alumni mentor to neuroscience students through Dr. Alfredo Spagna's Living Lab in the Department of Psychology.

Financial Considerations

*Summer 2024 Tuition and Fees

Please see our cost breakdown for detailed information.

*Tuition and fees are subject to the Board of Trustees' approval and may change.


If you receive financial aid during the academic year, you may remain eligible for financial aid when you attend a summer Columbia-Led Program as long as you take a minimum of 6 points.

CC/SEAS: Contact the CC/SEAS Financial Aid & Educational Planning to understand if any of your federal financial aid may cover enrollment costs for a summer program. Please note the Columbia Grant is not available for summer studies.

General Studies: Contact the GS Office of Educational Financing to understand if any of your financial aid may cover participation in a summer program.

Other students should contact their home school financial aid offices.

Global Learning Scholarship (GLS)

The Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement (UGE) offers the Global Learning Scholarship (GLS) to support Columbia students so they may enhance their undergraduate education by participating in a summer global learning opportunity.


You are eligible for the Global Learning Scholarships (GLS) if you are:

  • A Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, or General Studies student who demonstrates financial need

  • All other students are not eligible for the GLS

Application and Timeline:

Students apply for the Global Learning Scholarship (GLS) and the Columbia-Led summer program with two separate applications.

Scholarship applications are due: February 15, 2024 (closes at 11:59 pm EST)

GLS applicants must also submit a completed program application by the program application deadline OR no later than the following: February 15, 2024 (closes at 11:59 pm EST)

To apply to the Global Learning Scholarship (GLS), please click here.


For a list of other scholarships specific to study abroad, please visit the Scholarships for Study Abroad for more information.

For more general information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below:


To learn about the financial consequences for withdrawing from the program, please read the Withdrawal and Refund policy.

Resources for Accepted Students