The Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience has been conducted each summer since its inception in 1988. Michael S. Gazzaniga was the director for the first 22 years of the Summer Institute, and remains its co-director today. The Summer Institute has been held at Dartmouth College, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, and at Lake Tahoe. It was originally supported by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, bearing the name McDonnell Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience for many years. Since 1998 it has been supported by NIMH, in collaboration with NIDA (from 2005-2010 and now again from 2015-2020). Beginning in 2015, the Kavli Foundation has joined NIMH and NIDA in a a unique partnership to support and advance the program, and in recognition of this the training program will now be known as the Kavli Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience.
Hundreds of trainees and faculty lecturers have participated in the Institute over the past two decades as it has evolved into its current form. Its origination and continuation is premised on an appreciation that cognitive neuroscience was and is a rapidly emerging discipline that is intrinsically interdisciplinary, and that has a significant impact on our understanding of cognitive brain mechanisms in health and disease. If the field is to progress successfully, current investigators from disparate fields must be brought together on a regular basis and young scientists being trained in the field require exposure to a broad base of methods, approaches, and bodies of knowledge. Each year, the Summer Institute has assembled a faculty of distinguished investigators and a group of young, promising scholars (fellows) that represent the many disciplines that bear on the mind-brain sciences, including neuroscience, medicine, psychology, linguistics, computer science, engineering and philosophy.
The Institute has become one of the most prized opportunities for promising graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and young professors and research scientists with basic and translational science interests, and increasingly, for clinical practitioner-scientists as well. At the Institute, these young scientists have the opportunity to meet current leaders in the field and to forge links with the people that will be their colleagues for years to come. The Institute has always had a focus on keeping pace with the field. Students are exposed to topics that are at the field’s frontier and are trained in rapidly emerging techniques. The regular publication of The Cognitive Neurosciences (MIT Press) makes the work of the Institute available worldwide. For all of these reasons, the Kavli Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience has become a major institution for training and exchange of ideas within the field.