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Neuromodulation of Cognition


Admission requirements

MSc Psychology (research) students


Neuromodulation is the process in which several classes of neurotransmitters in the nervous system regulate diverse populations of neurons (one neuron uses different neurotransmitters to connect to several neurons). In recent years, there has been a considerable increase in interest how cognition is shaped by neuromodulation and key roles of several transmitter systems were identified. This course is intended to review and discuss state-of-the-art developments in neuromodulation, covering issues like the roles of acetylcholine and serotonin in memory, of dopamine in learning and executive control, and of norepinephrine in visual attention. No clinical relevant topics will be addressed in the course.

Ways to manipulate neuromodulation experimentally to study the physiological bases of human cognition are also discussed. Each course meeting aims to provide a deeper insight into the theoretical and methodological background of a current research interest. On the basis of six 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. The research proposal will be mandatorily about cognitive functions, no clinical or social themes will be allowed.

Course objectives

The course has as its main objective the introduction to the basic approaches to neuromodulation of cognition.


Neuromodulation of Cognition(2013-2014):

Mode of instruction

Seven seminars

Assessment method

The assessment is based on:

  • Individual presentation

  • Individual papers

  • Essay questions

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

Reading list

Readings available via ‘Blackboard’. Exemplary literature includes:

  • Nieuwenhuis, S., Gilzenrat, M.S., Holmes, B.D., & Cohen, J.D. (2005). The role of the locus coeruleus in mediating the attentional blink: A neurocomputational theory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 134, 291-307.

  • Colzato, L. S., Hertsig, G., van den Wildenberg, W., & Hommel, B. (2010). Estrogen modulates inhibitory control in healthy human females: Evidence from the stop-signal paradigm. Neuroscience, 167, 709-715.

  • Colzato, L. S., van den Wildenberg, W., van der Does, A.J.W., & Hommel, B. (2010). Genetic Markers of Striatal Dopamine Predict Individual Differences in Dysfunctional, but not Functional Impulsivity. Neuroscience, 170, 782-788.

Contact information

Dr. L. Colzato
Room 2A41
Phone 071-5273407