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Mind and Brain: Theories and Applications of Cognitive Psychology



[BSc], Psyc, GPH

Admission Requirements

None, but 100-level course in Psyc or GPH preferred.


Cognitive Psychology is mostly concerned with the healthy mind, brain and behavior. It studies human functions such as thinking and problem solving, perception, language, decision-making, memory, motor skills, and attention. This plethora of topics and interests reflects a variety of questions: Why do we think the way we do? What is ‘knowledge’, and do we truly and objectively see what our eyes perceive of the world around us? How do we remember lists of words, or events that happened to us? Why do we make mistakes? Cognitive psychology is relevant to some very practical questions, such as: What is the best way to study new material? Can we trust an eyewitness report to be reliable? The main goal of cognitive psychology is to describe and understand human functions. The most important tool to gain understanding is through well-controlled experiments. In this course we explore the science of the human mind, address how research advances our understanding of human function and its disorders and identify how theoretical insights apply to real-life phenomena, with special attention to education and law.

Course Objectives

The student will:

  • Have an understanding of the key concepts, theories and models of human functions, such as language, memory and decision-making.

  • Be able to identify how different fields in cognitive psychology can inform on real world phenomena.

  • Be able to understand the principles of experimental research in cognitive psychology; understand how research is performed and appreciate its strengths and pitfalls.

  • Acquire some basic practical skills in performing research in cognitive psychology and analyze and interpret research outcomes.

  • Have the ability to present topics and issues comprehensively in both oral and written form.

Mode of Instruction

This course will consist of two seminars per week. In each week the first meeting will introduce new core areas of cognitive psychology through an interactive lecture as well as class participation and exercises. This meeting is focused on the human functions, such as attention, memory or language. The second meeting will be delivered through a combination of hands-on demonstrations, computer practical’s, exercises, student presentations and discussion. It introduces typical experimental paradigms in cognitive psychology to gain understanding in how experimental research is performed and exercises to apply theories to practical real-life problems.


In-class participation, small assignments, group presentations: 15%
Individual presentation: 15%
Two Multiple-choice exams: 40% (20% each)
Final essay (30%)


  • D. Reisberg (November 2012) Cognition; Exploring the Science of the Mind. Fifth Edition. (International Student Edition with ZAPS and Cognition Workbook). W.W. Norton & Company, NY. ISBN 978 0 393920734 Please make sure to have the edition that includes a ZAP-code and workbook.

  • Reisberg, D. (2013). The Cognition Workbook. Essays, Demonstration, & Explorations. Fifth Edition. Norton.
    ZAPs, The Norton Psychology Labs. (available at

Other recommended readings will be provided during class on Blackboard.

Contact Information

Dr. Ingrid Christoffels

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Foundations of Cognitive Psychology
Week 2: Learning about the world around us: Recognizing objects & Paying attention
Week 3: Memory: Acquisition of memories and working memory
Week 4: Memory: Remembering complex events (session 2: MC Exam)
Week 5: Knowledge: Concepts, generic knowledge & Language
Week 6: Knowledge & Thinking: Visual knowledge & judgment and reasoning
Week 7: Thinking: Problem solving and intelligence (session 2: MC Exam)
Week 8: Final Research Essay

Preparation for first session

Chapter 1 and 2 of the textbook.