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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PSYC3547 Nutrition and Cognition

15 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Professor Louise Dye

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Successful completion of all pass for progression modules in Level 2 of: BSc Psychology or MPsyc, BSc Advanced Psychology, BA Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Thought (and its International and Industrial variants) or BSc Psychology with Education (and its International and Industrial variants)


PSYC2518Cognitive Neuroscience

Module replaces

Cognition and Nutrition PSYC3535

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This course of lectures and associated seminars will examine state of the art evidence, methods and current thinking on the effect of food and nutrients on cognitive function across the lifespan from development in children to cognitive decline (and its prevention) in ageing.


There is considerable commercial and popular interest in “brain foods” often with purported but unsubstantiated effects on cognitive function. This course will develop students understanding of the effects of nutrients on cognitive function and their ability to synthesize and critically evaluate evidence from a range of sources and types of study. A major objective is to develop students’ critical appraisal of research methods used to generate this evidence. Recent developments of techniques in molecular biology, brain imaging and nutrigenomics have enabled identification of genes linked to behavioural traits and cognitive function and the effects of ingested nutrients on activity beyond the blood brain barrier. The course will also consider effects of dietary patterns e.g. the Mediterranean diet on cognitive function and cognitive decline. The course will consider EFSA claims for psychological and behavioural functions and the degree to which claims can be made for cognitive effects of nutrients.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students should be able to:
1. demonstrate an understanding of the effects of food and food components on cognitive function across the lifespan
2. critically evaluate how psychological and biological factors can interact with respect to diet and cognitive function;
3. demonstrate critical understanding of technical measurement of brain function, biological processes and cognitive functions
4. demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of multiple influences on diet and cognitive function;
5. summarise, synthesize and evaluate research findings on specific nutrients and their effects on cognitive function through specific literature searches.

Skills outcomes
This module supports the development of:
- Information retrieval, synthesis and evaluation of nutrition and cognition literature
- Evidence based reasoning of nutrition and cognition literature
- Public understanding of science and its communication related to nutrition and cognition literature


The following is an indicative syllabus:

- Introduction to the biopsychological approach to diet and cognitive function
- Epidemiological evidence for diet-cognition relationships
- Methods for measuring brain function and cognition (cognitive assessment; mood assessment, brain imaging etc)
- Nutrigenomics: Genetics of Brain and Cognition and their interactions with Dietary and Environmental factors
- Diet and cognitive function across the lifespan;
- Nutrients and cognitive development/function (phospholipids, omega 3’s, iron and other nutrients, herbal extracts and nutraceuticals)
- Effects of Breakfast on cognitive function in children and adults
- Obesity, Diabetes and Cognitive decline
- Dietary Patterns and Cognitive function

Summary / revision lecture.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours10.00
Private study hours118.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Students will have 118 private study hours. It is envisaged that this time will be spent as follows:
Reading specific articles prior to each lecture:10 x 3 hours 30 hours
Independent literature searches and preparing coursework assignment 58 hours
Additional 12 hours online learning (above) - using library tutorials to perform searches/use Endnote or similar
Revision 30 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The seminars will provide training in systematic searching of electronic databases which will be good experience to support the module coursework and also for the students dissertations and other work which involves reviewing literature.

Formative feedback on the searches will be provided in the training session and via the discussion board.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Literature Review1,500 words60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)60.00

Each student will select a food component, nutrient or dietary pattern from a presented list and will be required to perform a mini-review of the studies which have examined that nutrient using a specific approach (e.g. epidemiological, RCT, intervention) possibly in a specific sample (e.g. children) in the case of nutrients with extensive research available. They will produce summary tables for the studies retrieved and write a 1500 word (max) critical evaluation of this evidence and reflect on whether the available data would be sufficient for an EFSA claim. There is no compensation between the summative assessment on the module.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment1 hr 10 mins40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)40.00

Exam will consist of 2 short answer questions from a choice of 5.

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 30/06/2021 15:21:45


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