nl en

Cognitive Modelling


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


How can we use AI to build brains and minds?

Cognitive models define the algorithms underlying behavioral capacities such as learning and decision-making. For instance, reinforcement learning algorithms describe the adaptive process through which agents learn to predict the consequences of their behavior, through interactions with the environment.

Cognitive models are widely used in cognitive science, computer science and artificial intelligence to better understand the cognitive processes that give rise to intelligent behavior. Their components have been linked to specific processes in the brain, bridging from computation to functioning of the nervous system.
The principles of cognitive models have also been used as building blocks for various cognitive architectures, which aim to create a comprehensive computer program that can perform certain tasks (and explain human behavior).

This course will discuss and compare different approaches to cognitive modelling and cognitive architectures. Students will gain hands-on experience in implementing these models, and fitting them to data, through tutorials and assignments.

Course objectives

  • Students can summarize the key paradigms and models currently employed in the field of cognitive (based on a theoretical overview provided by the lectures);

  • Students can describe different cognitive architectures, their respective differences, and strengths and weaknesses;

  • Students can critically discuss current issues and future perspectives related to the cognitive modelling literature;

  • Students can program computational models, and fit them to experimental data;

  • When programming a computational model, student can describe the rationale for their choices and the relevance of the resulting program/code.


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudymap will automatically be displayed in MyTimetable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Pleas note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of 14 lectures (including Q&A sessions and journal clubs) and 14 tutorials.

Assessment method

The grade is an average of:

  • in-class mini-quizzes (3 x 5% = 15%)

  • lab reports (3 x 15 % = 45%)

  • final programming assignment and report (40%)

Note that a maximum of 1 lab report can be failed (< 5.5) to pass the course. There will be no resit for lab reports. A resit will be offered for the final assignment.

Reading list

  • Models of the mind by Grace Lindsay (available online through the university library: link.


From the academic year 2023-2024 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudymap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to register for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course.

Extensive FAQ on MyStudymap can be found here.


Onderwijscoördinator Informatica, Education coordinator LIACS bachelors


Not applicable.