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Social Cognitive Neuroscience


Admission requirements

MSc Psychology (research) students


Social cognitive neuroscience is an emerging scientific discipline that attempts to integrate the theories, methods and insights of cognitive psychology, social cognition and cognitive neuroscience. This course is intended to review and discuss state-of-the-art developments in this area, covering issues like self-perception, action perception and interpretation, imitation and the recognition of affect.

Each course meeting aims to provide a deeper insight into the theoretical background of a current research interest – with an emphasis on controversies – and will be based on one or two publications, which either review a substantial body of recent research or make strong statements reflecting the different perspectives on the particular controversial issue.

On the basis of further reading assignments, each student will orally present at least one paper (using Power Point), and stimulate, lead and organize further discussion in the group. On the basis of the seminar meetings, each student will prepare an research proposal, which consists of a critical review of the literature relevant to the chosen topic and recommendations for future research.

Course objectives

  • Students gain an overview of recent theoretical developments in the area of social cognitive neuroscience and a deeper insight into the relationship between cognitive, affective, and social processes and brain functions.

  • They get a better understanding of how modern techniques to analyse brain processes and careful, creative experimenting can inform psychological theorizing.

  • They practice how to analyse associated methodological and theoretical problems and how to develop, communicate, and defend their own opinion.


Social Cognitive Neuroscience (2011-2012):

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

The assessment is based on relatively:

  • 20% active participation

  • 20% oral presentation

  • 60% research proposal

From January 1, 2006 the Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted the Ephorus system to be used by instructors for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. Please see the information concerning fraud .


Information on

Key readings

  • Blakemore, S., Winston, J. & Frith, U (2004). Social cognitive neuroscience: where are we heading? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 216-222.

  • Lieberman, M. D. (2007). Social cognitive neuroscience: A review of core processes. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 259–289.

  • Glenberg, A.M. (2011). Introduction to the mirror neuron forum. Perspectives on Psy-chological Science, 6, 363–368.

  • Gallese, V., Gernsbacher, M.A., Heyes, C., Hickock, G., & Iacoboni, M. (2011). Mirror neuron forum. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 369–407.

  • Glenberg, A.M. (2011). Positions in the mirror are closer than they appear. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 408–410.

  • de Vignemont, F. & Singer, T. (2006). The empathic brain: how, when and why? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 435-441.

  • Meltzoff, A. & Decety, J. (2003). What imitation tells us about social cognition: A rapprochement between developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society, London B, 358, 491–500.

  • Decety, J. & Sommerville, J. (2004). Shared representations between self and other: a social cognitive neuroscience view. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 527-533.

  • Jeannerod, M. (2004). Visual and action cues contribute to the self-other distinction. Nature Neuroscience, 7, 422–423.

  • Saxe, R, Carey, S. & Kanwisher, N. (2004). Understanding other minds: linking devel-opmental psychology and functional neuroimaging. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 87–124.

  • Harmon-Jones, E., & Harmon-Jones, C. (2007). Cognitive dissonance theory after 50 years of development. Zeitschrift für Sozialpsychologie, 38, 7-16.

  • Huebner, B., Dwyer, S., & Hauser, M. (2009). The role of emotion in moral psychol-ogy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 1-6.

  • Moll, J. & de Oliveira-Souza, R. (2007). Moral judgments, emotions and the utilitarian brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 319-321.

Master’s introduction and enrolment day

Make a reservation in your agenda so you will not miss any information that you will need during your master’s programme MSc in Psychology. Please consult the Agenda master meetings

Contact information

Prof.dr. Bernhard Hommel
Room 2B05