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Evidence based Cognitive Enhancement (ECE)


Entry requirements

Only open to master’s students in Psychology with the specialisation Applied Cognitive Psychology


In this course we critically evaluate various approaches aimed at enhancing cognitive performance (e.g. vigilance, creativity, memory, productivity). Students will learn which techniques are applied, the rationale behind their application, whether these techniques are really effective at enhancing performance, and how this is tested. The mechanisms underlying cognitive enhancement are discussed in both a behavioural and psychobiological framework. In the workgroup meetings the various topics will be elaborated upon and critically evaluated in oral presentations, (prepared) group discussions, and an individual research proposal.

Course objectives

This is the theoretical part of the specialization in human potential. After completing this course, students:
1. have a comprehensive overview of prevalent techniques for cognitive enhancement and their current scientific status. It is vital for an ACP worker (e.g. consultants, HR managers, educators, product developers and testers, policy workers etc) to have a solid knowledge base, grounded both in theory and empirical findings. This is especially important given the numerous strong claims made in the current media (e.g. on the efficacy of meditation or super foods). Moreover, awareness of available tools (e.g. for physiological measures indicators of attention, stress, and so forth) is key for identifying potential approaches to real-world problems.
2. Are able to critically evaluate scientific literature (in the field of human potential).
3. Can design their own empirical study on a particular ACP related topic and present this design in a written research proposal. This skill is important for ACP workers to stay informed on the rapidly evolving field, as well as to communicate and discuss such topics with peers and colleagues.


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

This is an intensive master course and consists of:
1) 8 2-hour lectures of 2 hours (attendance compulsory)
2) 6 2-hour work group sessions for student presentations and discussions (attendance compulsory)
Weblectures will be made available after each lecture. However, lecture attendance is compulsory.

Lecture overview:

1) Contextual and sleep influences on performance
2) Training capacity and control
3) Bodily influences on performance
4) Game-based training & gamification
5) External support to performance
6) Applying psychophysiology
7) Drugs and neurotransmitters
8) Mental states

Assessment method

All aspects of the course, including assessment, will be in English. The assessment is based on:

1) A written exam (40%)

The written exam will consist of essay questions on the literature accompanying the lectures (multiple papers per lecture, total appr. 350 pages), as well as the lecture slides / weblectures. Performance on the exam will be indicative of the first course objective.

2) Oral presentation and group discussions (20%)
3) An individual research proposal (40%)

The latter two assessments correspond to the second course objective.

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

Examples of literature (the exact papers might differ from the examples below, but will all be accessible at the start of the course):

Vandewalle, G., Maquet, P., & Dijk, D. J. (2009). Light as a modulator of cognitive brain function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 429-438.
Anguera, J. a, Boccanfuso, J., Rintoul, J. L., Al-Hashimi, O., Faraji, F., Janowich, J., … Gazzaley, a. (2013). Video game training enhances cognitive control in older adults. Nature. 501(7465), 97–101.
Margolin, S. J., Driscoll, C., Toland, M. J., & Kegler, J. L. (2013). E-readers, Computer Screens, or Paper: Does Reading Comprehension Change Across Media Platforms? Applied Cognitive Psychology. 27(4), 512–519.
Hertzog, C., Kramer, A. F., Wilson, R. S., & Lindenberger, U. (2009). Enrichment effects on adult cognitive development: Can the functional capacity of older adults be preserved and enhanced? Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 9.
Benton, D. (2010). The influence of dietary status on the cognitive performance of children. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 24, 457-470.
Hillman, C. H., Erickson, K. I., & Kramer, A. F. (2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 9, 58-65.
Lutz, A., Slagter, H.A., Dunne, J.D., & Davidson, R.J. (2008). Cognitive-emotional interactions: Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Science. 12, 163-169.
Gruzelier, J.H. (2014). EEG-neurofeedback for optimising performance. I: A review of cognitive and affective outcome in healthy participants, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 44, 124-141.
Iiyoshi, T., Hannafin, M., & Wang, F. (2005). Cognitive tools and student‐centred learning: rethinking tools, functions and applications. Educational Media International. 42.

Contact information

Dr. Bryant Jongkees