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Cognitive Neuroscience of Action Control


Entry requirements

Only open to MSc Psychology (research) students


This course is intended to provide an overview of, and discuss state-of-the-art developments in the cognitive neuroscience of attention and action control. The selection of papers focuses on the experimental analysis of action-control mechanisms including goal representation, action selection, action planning, sequential action planning, multitasking, and error monitoring.

Each course meeting aims to provide a deeper insight into the theoretical background of research on one of these core mechanisms and will be based on one or more key papers that either review a substantial body of recent research or make strong statements reflecting the different perspectives on the issue.

Each student will choose one topic to follow in-depth and will present this topic to peers under the meeting themes. These presentations – guided by the instructor – will form the bedrock for the written reports.

Course objectives

Upon completion of the course, students will have acquired three skills that are essential for experimental researchers working in the area of cognitive neuroscience, namely:

  • Gain an overview of recent theoretical developments in the area of action control and a deeper insight into the relationship between control processes and brain functions;

  • Get a better understanding of how modern techniques to analyse brain processes and careful, creative experimenting can inform psychological theorizing; and

  • Practice how to analyse associated methodological and theoretical problems and how to develop, communicate and defend their own opinion.


Meeting 1: Introduction and choice of topic
Meeting 2: Introduction to the chosen topic
Meeting 3: Theoretical approaches
Meeting 4: Methodological approaches
Meeting 5: Theoretical implications of methodological limitations
Meeting 6: Methodological approaches for the future
Meeting 7: Theoretical approaches for the future
Meeting 8: Implications of the research: from in laboratory to daily life

For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable


NOTE As of the academic year 2021-2022, you must register for all courses in uSis.
You do this twice a year: once for the courses you want to take in semester 1 and once for the courses you want to take in semester 2.
Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from early August. Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from December. The exact date on which the registration starts will be published on the website of the Student Service Center (SSC)

By registering for a course you are also automatically registered for the Brightspace module. Anyone who is not registered for a course therefore does not have access to the Brightspace module and cannot participate in the first sit of the exam of that course.
Also read the complete registration procedure

Mode of instruction

8 2-hour work group sessions.

Assessment method

The assessment of the course is based on:
50% Written Report
50% Oral presentations

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

  1. Peer-reviewed literature in the area of cognitive neuroscience.
  2. Peer-reviewed review articles summarizing diverse fields linking to action control.

For example:

C. elegans locomotion: small circuits, complex functions

Descending Pathways in Motor Control

Error Correction, Sensory Prediction, and Adaptation in Motor Control

Assembly and Function of Spinal Circuits for Motor Control

The Neurocognitive Bases of Human Volition

Contact information

dr. A. Ghosh