Courses Brain and Cognition

Courses - Brain and Cognition

3.4 Foundations of Cognitive Brain Research (ESSBP3083B; 6 ECTS)

Goal of this course

The goal of the course is to provide students with a solid foundation in cognitive brain research. To this end, we will address current and central theoretical, methodological, and practical  issues in the study of cognition.


Where do we stand after the cognitive revolution and the advent of brain-imaging techniques? What have we learned about how the brain performs cognitive tasks? In this course we will explore current issues in cognitive brain research and their historical roots. Does free will exist? Is the mind like a computer? Can we see what people think by scanning their brains? Is our thinking separated from our emotions? In addition to these theoretical questions, we will devote attention to practical matters. What methods are there to study brain and cognition and what are their pros and cons? How does the scientific publication process work? How is scientific research done ethically? We will discuss classical and recent articles on these topics.

Core Literature

Damasio, A.R., (2005). Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, New York: Penguin.
Kahnemann, D. (2011). Tinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  

3.5 Memory (ESSBP3087B; 6 ECTS)

Introduction to the course

This course deals with the vast and important area of memory. Memory forms the basis for much of human cognition and behaviour. We use our memory not only to remember the groceries we have to buy at the supermarket for tonight’s dinner or where and when we planned to meet a friend, we also need our memory to make calculations, to know the meaning of words or to engage in a conversation. In this course different themes are covered:

  • sensory memory,
  • working memory,
  • episodic memory (levels-of-processing, encoding specificity, recall and recognition, false memories, interference, retrieval processes and inhibition, memory reliability),
  • concepts and categories,
  • computational models of memory,
  • implicit memory (dissociations with explicit memory tasks, transfer-appropriate processing, process dissociation),
  • amnesia,
  • dementia, and
  • the neural basis of memory and consolidation.

Learning objectives of the course

  • After the course the student has extended knowledge of the most important empirical findings and theories in the fields of explicit and implicit memory.
  • After the course the student has a basic understanding of some important (mathematical) models of human memory.
  • After the course the student has basic knowledge of the biological basis of human memory.

Students are expected to have basic knowledge of cognitive and biological psychology (i.e., they should have followed courses on these topics). ‘Introduction to Psychology’ books such as Gleitman or Atkinson/Hilgard do not provide sufficient knowledge to enter the course. For comparison, students at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam have had an equivalent of 24 ECTS on topics from cognitive and biological psychology before the start on this course.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to consult the following publications before deciding to participate in this course:

  • Neath, I., & Surprenant, A.M. (2003). Human Memory (2nd Edition). Wadsworth (a division of Thomson Learning, Inc.). ISBN 0-534-59562-6
  • Raaijmakers, J. G. W., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1981). Search of associative memory. Psychological Review, 88, 93-134
  • Hintzman, D. L. (1986). “Schema abstraction” in a multiple-trace memory model. Psychological Review, 93, 411-428

3.6 The Brain: Anatomy, Function and Imaging (ESSBP3091B; 6 ECTS)

Goal of this course

The goal of this course is to acquire substantial knowledge of and insight in 1) biochemical and electrical processes in the brain; 2) brain anatomy; and 3) techniques that measure/examine brain anatomy and activity.


In this course you will learn how the CNS is build and how it works (with main focus on the brains). Biochemical and electrical processes in the brain and their influence on behavior will be discussed. Furthermore, a variety of techniques that measure/examine brain anatomy and activity will be explored (with special attention for the EEG and ERP’s). Finally, the relationship between EER/ERP’s and psychological processes and their application in psychology will be discussed.

This course consists of lectures, workgroups in which the literature will be discussed) and workgroups in which students will conduct and analyze EEG/ERP measures.