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Methods and instruments in cognitive and affective neuroscience


Admission requirements



The focus in MICAN is on knowledge about neuroscience methods and techniques in research context, in order to measure the biological origins of behavior, learning and emotion.
Contemporary cognitive and affective neuroscience makes use of a wide range of methods that are often used in combination with the more traditional tools. In addition to new technologies for measurement, cognitive and affective neuroscience methodology relies on the use of careful experimental designs, valid manipulations of psychological states and processes, and careful inference and interpretation.

In a series of two-hour sessions the concepts and principles of a range of methods and techniques will be discussed. Focus will be on:

  • Type of questions that can be addressed using these techniques

  • Do’s and don’ts

  • Opportunities and limitations

  • Experimental set-up

  • Theoretical background of techniques.

Lecture topics include:

  • Cognitive paradigms and patient studies

  • Neuro-imaging: functional MRI, structural MRI, DTI, resting state networks

  • Eyetracking

  • EEG and ERP

  • EMG

  • Near Infrared Spectography (NIRS)

  • Looking paradigms

  • Genetics

  • Hormonal measures

  • Autonomic nervous system: heart rate and skin conductance

NB. The first lecture is an introductory session (no preparations); a short overview of cognitive and affective neuroscience methods will be provided, and the outline of the course will be discussed.

Course objectives

In this course the student will learn about methods and instruments to examine neurocognition, behavioral genetics, psychophysiology, and brain structure and function. At the end of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Identify opportunities and limitations of these methods and techniques

  • Implement these methods and techniques

  • Design experiments using these methods and techniques

  • Analyze and interpret data obtained using these methods and techniques


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction:

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment method

Exam with multiple choice (MC) and open ended questions (OQ). Weight settings for MC & OQ combination will be 50/50.


  • PDF copies of PowerPoint presentations will be made available through Brightspace.

  • Detailed course information will be communicated by Brightspace.

Reading list

  • E. Harmon-Jones and J. Beer (2009). Methods in Social Neuroscience (ISBN 978-160623-040-4).

  • Scientific articles (links to full-text will be made available on Brightspace).


Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register via My Studymap up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.

It is mandatory for all students to register for each exam and to confirm registration for each exam in My Studymap. This is possible up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the examination. You cannot take an exam without a valid pre-registration and confirmation in My Studymap.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Contact information

Co-ordinator: Dr. S. van Rijn.