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Perception, Attention and Decision Making

Vak 2015-2016

Course objectives

• Students will acquire knowledge of principles of perception, attention and decision making.
• They will learn how these processes are related to each other and how they shape our daily-life experiences.
• They will gain insight in how research can help to understand the (neuro)cognitive processes that underlie perception, attention or decision making.
• Students will be able to apply this knowledge to critical reading of primary literature and to form, express and explain opinions on selected topics, as demonstrated by means of writing a popular scientific blog.


In this course, students will be introduced to the basic principles of human and animal perception, attention and decision making. Students will learn how properties of sensory systems and higher cognitive processes determine how we perceive and attend to our environment, and make decisions accordingly. Different scientific views (i.e. psychological, biological, pharmacological, physiological) and research methods will be discussed. Topics will cover several aspects of each modality. For example, visual and auditory perception, face recognition, selective attention, attentional control, perceptual and value-based decision making and heuristics. These topics will be discussed with respect to daily life experiences as well as to the different research methods that are used to investigate them (e.g. electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods). As such, each lecture will aim to provide insight into the theoretical and methodological perspectives of the different topics that will be discussed.
The course will take 3 weeks to complete, with 4 lessons a week. Perception will be discussed in the first week, followed by attention in the second and decision making in the third week.


Maximum of 12 lectures of 2 hours

Study material

Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience (Second edition, 2013) by Purves, Cabezza, Huettel, LaBar, Platt & Woldorff chapters: to be announced.

Primary literature (to be announced on Blackboard)

Assignments and exam

1) Each student will write and hand in an individual scientific blog about a topic related to the course. This blog should be written following the guidelines of the blogs on, additional requirements will be announced during the course.
2) The exam will consist of a combination of multiple choice and open questions.
The final grade will the weighted average score of both the blog (30%) and the exam (70%). Note that, in order to pass the course, students require a minimum score of 5.5 on both grades.