Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions


Cognitive Neuroscience

Module titleCognitive Neuroscience
Module codeCSC4025
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Miguel Dasilva Ogando (Convenor)

Dr Jenny Harris (Convenor)

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 focussing on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). These masterclasses will show you how fMRI data are collected and analysed.

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, before using the visual system as a model to explore different facets of Cognitive Neuroscience. Finally, students will have hands-on opportunities to analyse data from 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. Discuss philosophical concerns of cognitive neuroscience including connectionism and representation.
  • 3. Summarise the range of topics encompassed by Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • 4. Delineate the key cellular processes and pathways that mediate the passage of visual information through the human nervous system.
  • 5. Interpret the role of different cortical areas in the representation and analysis of visual information.
  • 6. Discuss contemporary explanations for visual recognition.
  • 7. Explain, with appropriate examples, the selective allocation of visual attention.
  • 8. Explain, with appropriate examples, the selective allocation of visual attention.
  • 9. Discuss current theories and the complexities of working memory.
  • 10. Summarise the relationship between working memory and attention.
  • 11. Explain the importance of mental imagery.
  • 12. Examine the promises and perils of functional neuroimaging.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 13. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the principles underpinning experimental design and data presentation within Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • 14. 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...

  • 15. Synthesize, and critically evaluate, primary sources of information.
  • 16. Exemplify critical thinking in the construction and analysis of written arguments.
  • 17. 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 two pieces of coursework. For the first piece of coursework, you will design an experiment for fMRI, and present an image of the design together with justification of your choice (1000 words). For the second piece of coursework you will write a news and views article (2000 words). This will require a critical evaluation of the associated methods and proposed interpretation, not a general description of the topic.




  1. History and philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience
  2. The topics of Cognitive Neuroscience: an overview
  3. Visual perception
  4. Object recognition
  5. Visual attention
  6. Neglect as a failure of attention
  7. Working memory: an introduction to current theories 
  8. Visual working memory and its relationship to attention
  9. Complexities of working memory
  10. Mental imagery




  1. fMRI study design and implementation
  2. fMRI data pre-processing
  3. fMRI 1st level (individual participant) analysis
  4. fMRI 2nd level (group) analysis

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 & Teaching8Masterclasses
Guided Independent Study30Literature 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
Research proposal outline500 words1-15Written
News and views abstract250 words1-17Written

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
Research proposal501000 words1-15Written
News and views article502000 words1-17Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research proposal (50%)Research proposal (1000 words) 1-15Ref/def period
News and views article (50%)News and views article (2000 words)1-17Ref/def period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral - If you are granted a deferral by the Board of Examiners, as recommended by the Medical School’s Mitigation Committee, you will need to complete an assessment during August. You will complete the missed assessment, or its equivalent, without a cap on the mark you can achieve.


Referral – If you have failed the module you will need to sit a further examination during the August period for Referral and Deferral. Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) that are not re-assessed by the examination are covered by formative assessment or are non-referable. The mark for a referred assessment will be capped at 40%.


Please refer to the TQA section for full guidance on Referral/Deferral:


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

• Fundamentals of Cognitive Neuroscience: A Beginner's Guide (2018, ISBN 9780128038130)
• 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

Neuroscience, Cognition, Attention, Working memory, Imagery

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

The following modules are recommended: CSC1006 Foundations in Neuroscience; CSC2019 Neuropharmacology; CSC2018 Neural Circuits. 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