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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Undergraduate Course: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention (PSYL10139)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryOur senses are constantly reached by an incredible about of information coming from our own body and the external world that surround us. This course address the basic neuroscience of how the human brain processes and selects part of the information that reaches our senses allowing us to perceive it and interact with the external world. How does the brain control the focus of attention? How can attention influence sensory and motor processes? To answer these questions the course will cover models and mechanisms of attention based on a variety of neuroimaging findings. For each of the topic considered a brief history of attention research will be first presented followed by a discussion of current theories of attention.
Course description This course aims to introduce the cognitive and neural mechanisms of attention. Current theories of attention will be discussed considering evidence from a variety of neuroscience methods (from single neurons recordings to functional imaging techniques). The course will present the neural mechanisms underlying different varieties of attentional processes together with the links between attention and other cognitive functions.

This series of lectures will begin with an introduction to the basic methods of Cognitive Neuroscience and the anatomical basis of perception. The basic questions and controversies in research on attentional processes will be discussed together with an overview of selective attention. The course also aims to teach the different mechanisms responsible for the spatial orienting of attention including the behavioural and neuroimaging evidence for distinct top-down and bottom-up control attentional systems. The topics covered will include the neuropsychological syndromes related to disorders of spatial attention (neglect and exctinction) and the crossmodal links in spatial attention. In addition we will discuss how attention can bind different visual features into coherent objects as well as the concept of object-based attention. Finally, the links between attention and action will be discussed.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Psychology 2A (PSYL08011) AND Psychology 2B (PSYL08012)
It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Research Methods and Statistics 2 (PSYL10126)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students who are Psychology majors and in their third or final year at their home university are welcome to take this course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. The students will learn the main methods of Cognitive Neuroscience and how these can be used to investigate attention.
  2. The student will learn the different research traditions in the history of attentional research and will be able to understand the main controversies that characterized this field of research.
  3. Referring to the relevant evidence, the students will be able to understand and explain the main theories and models of attentions, specifically top-down and bottom-up attentional processes, spatial attention, selective attention, disorders of attention, crossmodal links, object features integration and object based attention, and the links between attention and action.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordspsychology,cognitive neuroscience,attention
Course organiserDr Elena Gherri
Tel: (0131 6)50 3340
Course secretary
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