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Neuromodulation of Cognition


Entry requirements

Only open to MSc Psychology (research) students. For admission requirements, please contact your study advisor.


Neuromodulation is the process whereby neurochemistry and electrophysiology adapt the output of structurally fixed neural networks to our changing environment. In this course, we will focus on how neuromodulation shapes cognition and, more broadly, we will examine the role of various neurotransmitter systems and electrophysiology in key cognitive processes.

This course will provide mechanistic insight into the role of neurochemistry and electrophysiology in human cognition. We will also discuss several ways to manipulate neuromodulation experimentally, in order to study the biological basis of cognition. Each course meeting aims to provide a deeper insight into the theoretical and methodological background of a current research interest. Examples include the role of dopamine in executive control and value-based decision making, the role of noradrenalin in attention and neural gain, and the role of oscillatory synchronisation between neural networks for selective neural communication.

As part of the seminar meetings, each student will present an empirical paper that relates to or illustrates a principle of neuromodulation. Each student also prepares a research proposal on a topic within the field of neuromodulation of cognition, including a critical review of the relevant literature and a concrete suggestion for future research. Lastly, the course closes with an open question (essay) exam based on the topics covered during the seminar meetings.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, the student can:
1. Explain state-of-the-art theories and empirical findings on how neurotransmitters and electrophysiology shape cognition
2. Critically evaluate methodology of studies that aim to demonstrate, manipulate, or enhance neuromodulation of cognition
3. Propose an empirical study that addresses an important gap of knowledge in the field of neuromodulation of cognition
4. Can critically reflect on and argue for the importance of follow-up research, based on the strengths and limitations of available research on neuromodulation of cognition


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


You must register for each exam in My Studymap at least 10 days before the exam date. You cannot take an exam without a valid registration in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

8 seminars

Assessment method

The assessment is based on:

  • 33% One individual presentation

  • 33% One individual research proposal

  • 33% Open question (essay) exam, based on the required reading list on Brightspace and lecture slides

An insufficient partial grade (i.e., for the presentation, proposal, or exam) can be compensated for by the other partial grades as long as the insufficient grade is a 5.0 or higher and the weighted average of the three partial grades is a 5.5 or higher. When resitting the presentation or proposal assignment after an insufficient grade in the first round, the highest possible resit grade is a 6.0. You will be informed via Brightspace about the format of an exam review.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. All students are required to take and pass the Scientific Integrity Test with a score of 100% in order to learn about the practice of integrity in scientific writing. Students are given access to the quiz via a module on Brightspace. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken. Please see the information concerning fraud.

Reading list

Readings available via Brightspace. Exemplary literature includes:

Cools, R. (2019). Chemistry of the adaptive mind: lessons from dopamine. Neuron, 104, 113-131.

Contact information

Dr. Bryant Jongkees