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Perception, Attention and Decision Making


Entry requirements

Only open to students that are admitted to the Minor Brain and Cognition.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student:

  • has acquired knowledge of principles of perception, attention and decision making;

  • has learned how these processes are related to each other and how they shape our daily-life experiences;

  • gained insight in how research can help to understand the (neuro)cognitive processes that underlie perception, attention or decision making; and

  • will be able to apply this knowledge to critical reading of primary literature and to form, express and explain opinions on selected topics, as demonstrated by means of writing a popular scientific blog.


In this course, students will be introduced to the basic principles of human and animal perception, attention and decision making. Students will learn how properties of sensory systems and higher cognitive processes determine how we perceive and attend to our environment, and make decisions accordingly. Different scientific views (i.e. psychological, biological, pharmacological, physiological) and research methods will be discussed.

Topics will cover several aspects of each modality. For example, visual and auditory perception, face recognition, selective attention, attentional control, perceptual and value-based decision making and heuristics. These topics will be discussed with respect to daily life experiences as well as to the different research methods that are used to investigate them (e.g. electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods). As such, each lecture will aim to provide insight into the theoretical and methodological perspectives of the different topics that will be discussed.


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


  • Each student will write and hand in an individual scientific blog about a topic related to the course. This blog should be written following the guidelines of the blogs on, additional requirements will be announced during the course.

  • The exam will consist of a combination of multiple choice and open questions.

The final grade will the weighted average score of both the blog (30%) and the exam (70%). Note that, in order to pass the course, students require a minimum score of 5.5 on both grades.

Reading list


  • Ward, J. The Student’s Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience. Psychology Press (Dec. 2009), 2nd Edition or (Jan. 2015), 3rd Edition. Chapter 6, 7, 10, 14

Additional papers & chapters:

  • to be announced on Blackboard

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 contactthe course coordinator Dr. Samarth Varma