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Introduction to Neuroscience


Entry requirements

Only open to students that are admitted to the Minor Brain and Cognition. During the introduction, only students with a background in linguistics, arts or social sciences (such as Psychology, Education and Child Studies) have to take this course.

The objective of this first part of the minor is to ensure that students from different backgrounds will have the same level of relevant background knowledge, as far as possible. We assume that students’ knowledge of anatomy and physiology will be at least at the VWO (pre-university education) Biology final examination level.


Introduction to:

  • cell biology (including: cell morphology; membrane potential; intercellular communication);

  • neuroanatomy (including: structure and function of nerve cells; the different parts of the central nervous system; blood supply of the brain; functional areas in the cerebral cortex; introduction to MRI scans);

  • neurophysiology (including: membrane potential and action potential; neurotransmitters and impulse transmission);

  • neuropharmacology (including: different neurotransmitters and receptors and their interaction; drugs that can mimic, increase or block the action of neurotransmitters);

  • the sensory system (including: location and function of touch, vision, hearing); and

  • the motor system (upper motor neuron; lower motor neuron; subcortical motor systems).

Course objectives

  • To acquire sufficient knowledge about the anatomy of the central nervous system to interpret the images of modern imaging techniques.

  • To understand how information transmission takes place at the neuronal level.

  • To acquire basic understanding of the role played by the most important neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter systems in regulating homeostasis, behaviour, memory, etc. and how psychopharmaceuticals can affect these systems.

  • To acquire knowledge about the anatomy and functioning of the senses and basic understanding of the underlying cortical information processing.


  • “MRIcroN”: MRI viewing software (free download) and (f)MRI data stacks

  • “Slice atlas of the human brain”: labelled slices, available on Brightspace

  • “NeuralSim”: simulation of the electrophysiological properties of neurons and synapses

  • PowerPoint presentations on neuroanatomy, available on Brightspace

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures: 2×3 hours and 8×2 hours Neuroscience and Pharmacology

  • Practicals: 3 × 3 hours dissection

  • Other: 7 × 1 hour tutorial


For the timetables of your lectures, workgroups, and exams, select your study programme. Always keep an eye on Brightspace and check with your course coordinator for potential changes. Psychology timetables

Assessment method

Closed book exam at the end of the block, consisting of 30 open questions (22 questions on neuroscience, 8 questions on pharmacology).

Reading list

  • Bear, M.F. et al. (2016) Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 4th Edition. Please note: if you have already purchased the 3rd edition, this will work as well. From the academic year 24-25 onwards, only the 4th Edition is used.

  • PowerPoints and PDF links on Brightspace

  • Dissection Manual

Contact information

For your questions about the overall minor organisation, please contact the coordinator of the minor in Brain and Cognition
For your questions about registration, contact the OSC
For questions about the content of the course, please contact the course coordinators: