Module Details

PS901-7-AU-CO: Fundamentals Of Neuroscience And Neuropsychology

Year: 2017/18
Department: Psychology
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Dr Nicholas Cooper
Teaching Staff: Dr Nick Cooper, Dr Elia Valentini, Dr Marcello Costantini
Contact details:

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This course covers the main research areas and methods used in investigating the workings of the brain. The course will provide a good background in brain structure and function both at the cellular level and the systems level. The course will consider neuroscience as it relates to behaviour by asking how mental processes such as perception, memory, attention, movement and emotion are implemented within the brain.

Course Aims
a) Provide an overview of main research areas of neuroscience
b) Provide a sound structural basis at both the systems and cellular level for understanding the nature of a brain function
c) Provide a significant body of knowledge about how the function of the brain relates to behaviour
d) Introduce methods in neuroscience, including lesion studies and imaging techniques
e) Critical evaluation of significant findings in neuroscience

(L1). The basic concepts of neuroscience and neuropsychology and an Introduction to Neuroanatomy (part 1).
The historical development of method and ideas in neuroscience and neuropsychology from the ancient world to the present day. Metaphors for the brain in relation to the development of other technology. Understanding neuroscience jargon. Anatomy and functional significance of the cerebral cortex.

(L2). Introduction to Neuroanatomy (part 2) and The "How to" class on Journal Clubs. Anatomy and functional significance of the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. Journal club - Discussion and analysis of a neuropsychological journal article (including preparation for coursework 1).

(L3). Methods in Neuroscience 1 – Electroencephalography and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Introducing the EEG & TMS: What are we measuring? How do we measure it? What are the problems?

(L4). Methods in Neuroscience 2 – Magnetoencephalography, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Near Infrared Spectroscopy. Introducing MEG, fMRI & NIRS: How does MEG differ from EEG? Understanding the BOLD signal. How else can brain blood oxygen levels be measured?

(L5). The cellular foundations of the nerve function
Different types of nerve cells and their functions: neurons and glia cells, the main components of the nerve cell, action potential, impulse conduction, myelinisation. Synaptic transmission: receptors, neurotransmitter systems, long term potentiation and inhibition. Neurogenesis.

(L6). Sensation, Perception & Multisensory Intergration. Does sensation = perception? Introducing visual, auditory and tactile perception. Multisensory perception: what can synaesthesia and illusions teach us?.

(L7). Embodied cognition.
Introducing the importance of the body (embodied) and the environment (embedded) to cognition. What clues can metaphors provide? Is it all down to mirror neurons? Will enaction theory guide our understanding?

(L8). Philosophy of Mind.
We will begin by discussing the different philosophical perspectives on the nature of mind (Dualism, Materialism, Functionalism, Idealism, Monism), with reference to some thought experiments. The second half will focus more on the more recent contribution of neuroscience to the debate, in particular the role of unconscious processing in voluntary action. We will synthesise these different philosophical and experimental perspectives in determining the function of consciousness. Finally, we will touch upon some therapeutic implications that come from an understanding of the neural basis of consciousness.

(L9). Higher Cognitive Functions.
This lecture will focus on the neuroscience of decision-making. We will focus primarily on the role of emotion in decision-making, and the neural basis of decision making in tasks such as delay discounting and risky decision-making.

(L10). Issues in neuroscience - including "blobology", ethics and the hidden power of the gut (exploring the enteric nervous system and the microbiome). Group discussions.

Learning and Teaching Methods

Lectures (2 hours per week)


100 per cent Coursework Mark


2 PIECES OF COURSEWORK a) Critical review of a journal article b) Essay

Other information

Compulsory for:
- MSc Cognitive Neuropsychology students
- MSc Cognitive Neuroscience students
- MSc Research Methods in Psychology students

Optional for:
MSc Language and the Brain
MSc Advanced Psychology

Correct as at 02/11/16- NC/SLB


  • Recommended texts
  • Ward, J. (2015). The Student's Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience (3rd edition), New York, NY: Psychology Press.
  • Smith, E. & Kosslyn, S. (2007). Cognitive Psychology: Mind and brain. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Kolb, B. & Whishaw, I.Q. (2015). Fundementals of Human Neuropsychology (7th edition). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
  • Zillmer, E. & Spiers, M. (2007). Principles of Neuropsychology (2nd edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
  • Additionally, recommended articles for the course will be distributed during the lectures

Further information

External Examiner Information

  • Name: Dr Ashok Jansari
    Institution: Goldsmiths College
    Academic Role: Reader