Primary Research Areas

The Unit for Cognitive Neuroscience (UCN) is a basic neuroscientific research unit at the University of Copenhagen. Since its establishment in 1980, the unit has conducted basic neuroscientific research with an emphasis on the neural substrate of cognition, neural plasticity, and brain injury rehabilitation.

Some of our primary research areas include:

Plasticity in the Normal Brain – Our research in the normal brain comprises studies addressing neural plasticity both on molecular, cellular, and structural levels primarily related to the cognitive domains of problem solving, learning, and memory.

Functional Analysis – Another central research area is functional analysis of the prefrontal, hippocampal, parietal, and basal ganglia systems of the brain. We mainly focus on the neural substrates for spatial orientation and problem solving as well as the neural substrates for selection and evaluation of cognitive/behavioral strategies.

Traumatic Brain Injury – A third core research area is the understanding and facilitation of post-traumatic functional recovery after traumatic brain injury (TBI). We investigate a wide range of intervention methods, including pharmacological and stimulation based (e.g. exercise, environmental enrichment) therapies.

Should the above subjects be of interest to you and if you think you may want to become a research volunteer or complete an internship as part of a bachelor or masters thesis, you can read more about research opportunities at UCN here.


The research of UCN has led to the development of the neurocognitive REF (Reorganization of Elementary Functions) model. Originally published in 2009 (Mogensen & Malá, 2009), the REF-model is the first scientific theory simultaneously able to account for both a strict “localization of functions” (= regional functional specialization within the brain) and functional recovery after focal brain injury – that is: the apparent re-establishment of functions which have been lost due to the destruction of a specialized part of the brain. While developed in the context of brain injury and post-traumatic recovery of function, the REF-model also describes the mechanisms of neural and cognitive plasticity in the intact brain and gives a general account of the functional organization of the brain. For more publications on the REF-model read here and here.

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