Brain and Mind

Core 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 combination Block 1: Neurodegenerative Diseases: From Clinic to Bench, Global Health
Block 3: Nature & Nurture: Twin Research and Human Genetics, Big Data Management and Analysis in UNIX, The Gentle Art of Helping
Block 2           
22 July to 5 August 2017
Co-ordinating lecturerProf. Christian Olivers 
Other 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 will appeal both to undergraduates considering a Master’s degree in a related field and to postgraduate or even PhD students in other areas who are looking for a thorough introduction to the topic. 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 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 research it. Provided by the world-renowned Cognitive Psychology Lab at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, topics include consciousness and perception, brain networks and neuropharmacology, working memory, attention and cognitive control. Moreover, we give you hands-on experience with the state-of-the-art tools and models used to investigate the functioning of the mind. This is your opportunity to plan and run a cognition experiment, measure eye gaze, analyse brain codes from MRI scans and interpret brain waves from EEGs. You will program your own computer task, analyse real data and present the findings.

Finally, you look at the practical side. What are the implications of brain and mind studies for design, wayfinding, marketing, health, safety, security and the law? The course includes an excursion and assignment organized in collaboration with one of our design or industry partners in the Amsterdam area.
  • You will understand core concepts and methods in cognitive neuroscience: how the brain represents and processes information.
  • You will be aware of recent advances in the fields of perception, attention and working memory.
  • You will understand brain anatomy and mechanisms, and how they relate to cognitive function.
  • You will be able to design a basic psychophysical experiment: “measuring the mind”.
  • You will be able to perform basic analyses of behavioural, electrophysiological and neuroimaging data.
  • You will be able to apply cognitive thinking to everyday situations involving decision-making, design, marketing and safety.

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

A visit to the Mijksenaar Wayfinding Experts, the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and/or TNO Human Factors.
To be announced
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