Brain and Mind

Concepts and Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience
How does the human mind work? We all know the brain is responsible, but what are the mechanisms involved? How do our minds become conscious, perceive, remember and make important decisions?
Course levelAdvanced Bachelor/ Master
Recommended course combinationSession1: Neurodegenerative Diseases: From Lab to Patient and Back
Session 3: Debates About the Nature of Human Cognition
Session 2          
14 July to 28 July 2018
Co-ordinating lecturerProf. Christian Olivers 
Other lecturers    Dr Hamdi Mbarek, Dr Camelia Minica, prof. Meike Bartels, Dr Abdel Abdellaoui,
prof. Dr Dorret I. Boomsma, prof. dr. Eco J. C. de Geus, prof. Dr Conor Dolan,
Dr Michel Nivard, Dr Jenny van Dongen, Dr Dennis van ‘t Ent, Dr Elsje van Bergen,
Dr Gonneke Willemsen, Dr Jouke-Jan Hottenga, Dr Rick Janssen. Guest lecturers to be announced.
Form(s) of tuitionLectures, workshops, practical assignments, excursions
Form(s) of assessment    Attendance, practical assignments, presentations
ECTS    3 credits
Contact hours50
Tuition fee€1150
Any student wanting a quick but thorough primer on cognitive neuroscience, a theme relevant in studies as wide-ranging as Law, Education, Communications and Economics, as well as in the exact sciences and computer science. The course is introductory but thorough in nature, and will mostly appeal to undergraduates wanting know more about the topic or considering a Master’s degree in a related field. However the course may also be of use to postgraduates unfamiliar with the field and who are looking for a thorough introduction. Demonstrable affinity with quantitative methods (maths, statistics) is required. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.
Demonstrable affinity with quantitative thinking or methods, as shown by BSc-level Statistics and/or Mathematics courses passed with a GPA of at least 3 (B) or equivalent.

This course provides you with a sound introduction to human cognition and how cognitive neuroscientists investigate it. Provided by the world-renowned Cognitive Psychology Lab at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, topics include perception and consciousness, thinking and decision making, as well as the underlying brain mechanisms.

Moreover, we give you hands-on experience with the state-of-the-art tools used to investigate the functioning of the mind. You will learn to set up, and run a cognition experiment, measure eye gaze, and interpret brain waves from EEGs. You will program your own computer task, analyze your own data and present the findings. We will also look at the practical side. What are the implications of brain and mind studies for design, marketing, health & safety, and the law? The course includes an excursion to the SPINOZA brain imaging center, where you will see an fMRI scanner in action.

At the end of this course you will: 

  • Understand core concepts and methods in cognitive neuroscience: how the brain represents and processes information
  • Leading to perception, consciousness and decision making.
  • Be aware of recent advances in the fields of cognition, and its pitfalls.
  • Understand brain anatomy and mechanisms, and how they relate to cognitive function.
  • Be able to design and implement your own basic psycho-physical investigation: “measuring the mind”.
  • Know how to assess individual people’s perceptual and decision-making skills.
  • Be able to perform basic quantitative analyses of behavioural and electro-physiological data.

Please note that opportunities to acquire your own data will be limited for capacity reasons. You will work mostly with existing data.

Prof pic

Christian Olivers, PhD, is Professor of Visual Cognition. For twenty years, he and his lab have used behavioural, eye tracking, EEG and fMRI techniques to study the mental processes underlying perception and attention. Specifically, he investigates how our knowledge, plans, and goals affect what we become aware of and what we perceive from our environment. He is also interested in how we can improve our visual surroundings to optimize behaviour, efficiency and safety in everyday life. 

“If you ask me, the cognitive sciences have it all: It is a hugely exciting and fast-moving field to be in, a field which combines knowledge from psychology, neuroscience, physics, artificial intelligence, and philosophy, to try and unravel some of the last big mysteries humanity is facing: How is it that we can perceive, become aware, think, decide, and act?”

A visit to the Mijksenaar Wayfinding Experts, the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and/or TNO Human Factors.
Facebook-icoon   linkedin-icoon   Instagram-icoon