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Methods and instruments in cognitive and affective neuroscience


NB Language of instruction is English

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.


  • Neuro-imaging: field trip to MRI scanner, safety training

  • Eyetracking: designing and interpreting eyetracking experiments using Tobii Studio

Course objectives

  • To learn about methods and instruments to examine neurocognition, behavioral genetics, psychophysiology, and brain structure and function.

  • To be able to identify opportunities and limitations of these methods and techniques

  • To learn how to implement these methods and techniques

  • To be able to design experiments using these methods and techniques

  • To learn about analyzing and interpreting data obtained using these methods and techniques


Lectures Exam Exam

Mode of instruction:

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment method

Exam with multiple choice and open ended questions.


  • PDF copies of PowerPoint presentations will be made available through Blackboard

  • Detailed course information will be communicated by Blackboard.

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 Blackboard).



Students need to register for lectures in uSis. It is not possible to take a course without a valid registration.


Students are not automatically registered for exams. They can register themselves in uSis until 10 calendar days before the exam date at the latest. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the exam.

Please consult the course and exam registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

Contact information

Co-ordinator: Nienke Bouw MSc.