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Cognitive Neuroscience of Action Control


Admission requirements

MSc Psychology (research) students

Knowledge level as exemplified by Gazzaniga, M.S., Ivry, R., & Mangun, G.R. (2002). Cognitive Neuroscience: the Biology of the Mind, 2nd edition. W.W. Norton.


This course is intended to review and discuss state-of-the-art developments in the cognitive neuroscience of attention and action control. The selection of topics is intended to change from year to year but will focus on the experimental analysis of action-control mechanisms in the widest sense.

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 a paper that either reviews a substantial body of recent research or makes 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), write a blog, and stimulate, lead, and organize further discussion in the group.
On the basis of the seminar meetings, each student will prepare a 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 action control and a deeper insight into the relationship between control 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.


Cognitive Neuroscience of Action Control (2013-2014)

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

The assessment of the course is based on:

  • 10% active participation

  • 10% blog

  • 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 .


Blackboard site available, enrolment mandatory.

Key Readings

  • de Wit, S., & Dickinson, A. (2009). Associative theories of goal-directed behaviour: A case for animal-human translational models. Psychological Research, 73, 463-476.

  • Hommel, B. (2009). Action control according to TEC (theory of event coding). Psychological Research, 73, 512-526.

  • Wegner, D.M. (2002). The Illusion of Conscious Will. MIT press. [pages 1-98]

Contact information

Prof.dr. B. Hommel
Room 2B05