nl en

Learning, cognition and the brain


NB Language of instruction is English

Admission requirements

This course is related to the Bachelor courses Leren en Cognitie and Het Lerende Brein. If you did not take these courses it might be helpful to examine their reading materials.


We know that children have a tremendous potential to learn and benefit from education during their development. We also know that the human brain allows this learning to take place and at the same time determines what, how, and how much can be learned. In recent years, research in developmental cognitive neuroscience has provided important insights into the workings of the developing mind and its relation to learning and academic skill acquisition. This has led to the emergence of the new scientific field of Mind, Brain, and Education, which aims to build a bridge between the neurosciences, psychology, and educational science.

In this course, you will read theoretical and empirical studies about learning and development from the fields of (developmental) cognitive neuroscience, educational psychology, and evolutionary developmental psychology. You will learn more about the neural mechanisms contributing to cognitive development and learning, and you will gain in-depth knowledge about the challenges and opportunities offered by research relevant to educational neuroscience.
Evaluation and communication of scientific insights
A major goal of the course is for you to be able to evaluate the implications of this knowledge, and translate research findings into an accessible article and videoclip for schoolchildren, parents, teachers, and/or policy makers.

Course objectives

The aim of this course is to help students gain insights in the complex interplay between learning and neurocognitive development, and advance their understanding of the cognitive and neuropsychological processes underlying core subjects such as reading and mathematics. A major goal of the course is to evaluate the potential implications of this knowledge for educational practice.

At completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of recent insights in the field of Mind, Brain, and Education
2. Describe the neurocognitive processes that are of key importance to learning in general situations as well as in specific area’s such as reading and mathematics
3. Demonstrate a sound understanding of methodological considerations in the investigation of these processes
4. Discuss and evaluate the implications of knowledge of these processes for schoolchildren, parents, educators, and/or policy makers
5. Effectively translate scientific insights for a non-scientific audience


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

To ensure that students will attain a thorough knowledge of this emerging field, and get sufficient practice in understanding and translating findings from the science of learning, instruction will take a variety of forms, including lectures, group discussion as well as cooperative learning activities and group assignments.

Presence at all classes is obligatory. Students’ knowledge of the literature will be tested in group assignments and discussions. Students will conclude the course by writing an individual paper that aims to translate scientific findings to a non-research audience. In addition, groups of students will create a short videoclip on one of the topics discussed in this course.

Assessment method

The final grade will be based on an individual written assignment (80% of final grade), and a videoclip (20% of final grade).

To pass the course, both the written assignment and the videoclip should be completed with a passing grade. In addition, satisfactory participation in weekly group assignments is a condition for completing the course. Retakes of the written assignment and/or the videoclip are only possible if no passing grade for the component is obtained (grade below 5.5). More details are available in the course manual.

Research Master students create all assignments in English. Regular Master students are allowed to write in Dutch.


Study material will be announced on Brightspace. Students’ should upload their written assignment and videoclip via Brightspace.

Reading list

Study material will consist of recent book chapters as well as primary research articles from leading journals in education, psychology, and cognitive science.


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.

NB If the exam concerns a paper or a practical assignment, you do not need to register in My Studymap.

Contact information

With questions about this course email dr. Dietsje Jolles.