Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions

Cognitive Neuroscience

Module titleCognitive Neuroscience
Module codeCSC4025
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Crawford Winlove (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Sensations, emotions and thoughts are prominent features of our mental life. Cognitive Neuroscience seeks to explain these phenomena by integrating observations made at a cellular level within overarching theoretical frameworks. At its best, Cognitive Neuroscience provides these insights by subjecting specific theoretical predictions to the challenge of falsification through the precise measurement of hypothesized mechanisms. Success in this endeavour demands a secure philosophical foundation, conceptual precision, correct methodological design and accurate measurement. Common techniques include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This module explores influential attempts to follow such an approach, and invites participants to make they own evaluations.

We approach the topic though weekly lectures and facilitated journal club sessions. These are accompanied by a series of masterclasses that consider functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in detail, and laboratory sessions which provide a hands-on introduction to electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). It is assessed through an examination and written coursework.

This is an optional module for students studying BSc Neuroscience. This module is also open to students from Medical Sciences who have completed Foundations in Neuroscience, or similar material.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module provides a general introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience. Students will explore the historical origins of Cognitive Neuroscience and its contemporary philosophical concerns. Students will consider the diversity of mental phenomena currently under investigation, and develop a detailed understanding of the roles played by mental states in the integration of visual perception and motor action. Finally, students will have hands-on opportunities to use some key experimental techniques.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Outline the historical development of Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • 2. Define representation; explain how this accommodates a computational theory of mind and juxtaposes enactive models.
  • 3. Discuss connectionism and its compatibility with cellular neuroscience.
  • 4. Summarise the range of topics encompassed by Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • 5. Critique some of the current priorities for research in Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • 6. Delineate the key cellular processes and pathways that mediate the passage of visual information through the human nervous system.
  • 7. Interpret the role of different cortical areas in the representation and analysis of visual information.
  • 8. Explore contemporary explanations for visual recognition.
  • 9. Explain, with appropriate examples, the selective allocation of visual attention.
  • 10. Appraise the interpretation of neglect as a failure of attentional processes.
  • 11. Illustrate the role of the frontal lobes in the control of motor action.
  • 12. Evaluate the role of mirror neurons in action and imitation.
  • 13. Examine the promises and perils of functional neuroimaging.
  • 14. Critique the use of electroencephalography as a form of electrophysiological measurement.
  • 15. Judge the utility of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a research technique.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 16. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the principles underpinning experimental design and data presentation within Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • 17. Evaluate the specific challenges facing data collection within Cognitive Neuroscience.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 18. Synthesize, and critically evaluate, primary sources of information.
  • 19. Exemplify critical thinking in the construction and analysis of written arguments.
  • 20. Produce clear scientific writing.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module’s precise content will vary from year to year, but the following information gives an detailed description of the typical overall structure.

The module begins with an introductory workshop to outline its broad aims, weekly structure, and assessment processes. 

For each of the following ten weeks there will be a one-hour lecture. Aligned with this you will have a one-hour journal club session, in which the discussion of a related research paper will be facilitated by a specialist academic. 

The final week of the module has a consolidation workshop, in which students can chose which topic areas they would like to re-visit. 

The module is assessed through coursework and an examination. For the coursework, you will write a 2500 word evaluation of a research article. This will require a critical evaluation of the associated methods and proposed interpretation, not a general description of the topic. The examination will include short-answer questions that explore the content of the entire module. 


  1. A History Cognitive Neuroscience
  2. The Philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience: Representation and Computation
  3. The Philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience: Connectionism and Enaction
  4. The Topics of Cognitive Neuroscience: an overview
  5. Visual systems: From cellular mechanisms to cortical representations
  6. Visual systems: Recognition
  7. Spatial systems: Attention for visual objects
  8. Spatial systems: Neglect as a failure of attention
  9. Motor systems: The role of frontal lobes
  10. Motor systems: Action, Awareness and Imitation 


  1. An fMRI study
  2. A multitude of fMRI studies
  3. The interpretation of fMRI data


Laboratory sessions

Practical 1: Electroencephalography (EEG) – The Event-Related Potential and facial recognition.

Practical 2: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) – The motor-evoked potential.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching12Lectures and workshops
Scheduled Learning & Teaching10Interactive Journal Club Sessions
Scheduled Learning & Teaching3Masterclasses
Scheduled Learning & Teaching6Laboratory classes
Guided Independent Study29Literature searches, reading and preparation for journal club sessions
Guided Independent Study30Preparation for assessed paper critique
Guided Independent Study60Reading and preparation for lectures and exam


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in Journal Club Sessionsn/a1-15, 16-19Verbal
Online practice SAQ and data interpretation questions5 questions1-15Online model answers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer question and data interpretation exam502 hours1-15, 16-19Written or verbal (on request)
Critique of a research paper502500 words1-20Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Short answer question and data interpretation exam (50%)Short answer question and data interpretation exam (2 hours)1-15, 16-19Ref/def period
Critique of a research paper (50%)Critique of a research paper (2500 words)1-20Ref/def period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The Philosophy of Cognitive Science (2016, ISBN 0745646573): Chapters 1 and 2 

The Student’s Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience (2nd Edition, 2010, ISBN 1848722729): Chapters 6, 7, 8 

Neuroscience (6th Edition, 2018, ISBN 9781605353807) Chapters 27-29; 32)

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognition, Theory of Mind, fMRI

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

The following modules are recommended: Foundations in Neuroscience; Neuropharmacology; Neuronal Networks. However, students may have covered similar materiel elsewhere. Students who have not studied the preliminary content should be able to successfully complete this module by undertaking some additional study, but should discuss this further with their Academic Tutor and the Module Convener.

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date