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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BMSC2121 Cognitive Neuroscience: The process underlying cognition

10 creditsClass Size: 150

Module manager: Dr Hugh Pearson

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2020/21


BMSC1210Biology of the Mind
SPSC1222Neuroscience for Exercise Science

This module is mutually exclusive with

BMSC2125Molecular Pharmacology

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module introduces the field of cognitive neuroscience. The module will cover the elements of cognitive neuroscience not covered by other modules given in the School of Biomedical Sciences. Students will discover the neuronal mechanisms that control our thought processes, our ability to communicate, make decisions, focus on a task, socialise and feel emotion. The modern scientific methods by which these processes have been investigated will also be studied. In addition the module will provide training and instruction in the critical analysis of research literature by investigating controversies in interpretation of cognitive phenomena.


On completion of this module students will know:
- the techniques used to investigate the function of the nervous system;
- how the nervous system pays and shifts attention and the brain structures responsible for consciousness;
- the executive functions and the importance of the prefrontal cortex and working memory in these functions;
- how speech is generated, understood and interpreted;
- the regions of the brain important for our interactions with others and understanding ourselves;
- how particular brain regions give rise to our emotions and how the emotions interact with other cognitive functions.
- how to analyse arguments and theories put forward in the scientific literature and make a clear and reasoned decision regarding their relative merits.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students will be able to
- demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the methods used to investigate the functioning of the central nervous system;
- describe and explain the concept of attention, the various information processing models suggested to underlie attention and the neural correlates of consciousness;
- describe the process of decision making and how knowledge, judgement, social context and heuristics all help in the process;
- describe and define the executive functions, the importance of the prefrontal cortex, behavioural rules and working memory in these functions;
- describe how speech is generated, comprehended and interpreted and the neural bases for these processes;
- describe the various theories of language, explain how language is acquired and explain and describe the disorder of dyslexia;
- describe and define social cognition including the concepts of self and embodiment;
- explain how facial and body cues are important in social interaction, how we understand and categorise others socially and how this goes wrong in autism spectrum disorder;
- describe and explain emotions, how they are classified, their relationship to the limbic system, how they interact with other cognitive functions and how they are regulated
- critically analyse arguments put forward in the scientific literature, weigh up the pros and cons of opposing theories and make an informed judgement on which of the theories is correct.

Skills outcomes
An understanding of the neural processes involved in cognitive functions.


- Methods of Cognitive Neuroscience,
- Brain perturbations, Measuring neural activity, brain imaging
- Attention and consciousness
- Decision-making, knowledge and judgement
- Executive functions
- Language - speech, comprehension, interpretation, dyslexia
- Social cognition - self, embodiment, facial and body cue perception, autism
- Emotions - limbic system, interactions, regulation

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours82.00
Total Contact hours18.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Students will be expected to spend time reading around the subject of lectures using textbooks, review articles and research papers. The in-course assessment essay will require extensive reading and preparation.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

In-course essay will provide monitoring of student progress.
Seminars on critical assessment will provide opportunities for formative feedback.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1000 word limit (excludes references and title page)40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

The essay will be an evaluation of competing theories in a particular aspect of cognitive neuroscience. Students will be expected to make use of original research papers to support their arguments for and against these theories.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) (S1)1 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 16/05/2019


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