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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: The Neuropolitics of Decision-Making (fusion online) (EFIE11077)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryIn this course we explore issues of emotion, rationality, trust, identity and belonging in relationship to to decision making. We ask how understanding the neural underpinnings of these processes might provide new insights into the decision-making process for policy makers and policy analysts. The availability of sophisticated neuroimaging tools, along with rapidly advancing understandings of the functioning of the brain, presents new opportunities and challenges for researchers and policy-makers.

This course introduces participants to the concept of neuropolitics and to the tools and approaches from the cognitive neurosciences that may have important applications in theory and in policy practice.
Course description This course introduces participants to the concept of neuropolitics, in the context of decision- making, and to a range of tools and methods that might be used to gain new insights into the decision-making process. Participants will learn about the relationships between brain, body and behaviour and how these might impact on decision behaviours in different contexts. The course will cover topics such as: the neuropolitics of identity; the partisan brain; emotion, rationality and decision-making; trust, information and the brain; and neuro-ethics.

Students will enjoy hands-on interaction in journal clubs, in lightning video presentation sessions, and in virtual or on-site interactive lab session where they can learn more about the techniques and approaches available to explore the neuropolitics of decision-making.

This course is taught in hybrid format: 2 week pre-intensive; 2 day intensive; 2 week post-intensive

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - Online Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities. Students should note that their interactions may be recorded and live-streamed. There will, however, be options to control whether or not your video and audio are enabled.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the contribution of a neuropolitical approach to the study of decision-making.
  2. Build on a basic understanding of functional neuroanatomy and investigate the relevance of this knowledge for decision-makers.
  3. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of key methods and tools applied in neuropolitical research, with respect to decision-making.
  4. Demonstrate analytical skills and an ability to lead and contribute to group learning in a timely and effective manner.
  5. Identify a research puzzle and develop an appropriate and ethical experimental approach to the problem identified.
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:

Essential Reading:

Settle JE, Hibbing MV, Anspach NM, et al. Political psychophysiology: A primer for interested researchers and consumers. Politics and the Life Sciences. 2020;39(1):101-117. doi:10.1017/pls.2020.5

Glimcher PW, Fehr E (eds. . Neuroeconomics: Decision Making and the Brain. 2nd ed. Academic Press; 2014.

Verweij M, Senior TJ, Domínguez D JF, Turner R. Emotion, rationality, and decision-making: How to link affective and social neuroscience with social theory. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2015;9:332-332. doi:10.3389/fnins.2015.00332

Van Bavel JJ, Pereira A. The Partisan Brain: An Identity-Based Model of Political Belief. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2018;22(3):213-224. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2018.01.004

Recommended Reading:

Moore A, Cram L. Trust in information, political identity, and the brain- An interdisciplinary fMRI study. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B3762020014020200140

Schreiber D. Neuropolitics: Twenty years later. Politics and the life sciences. 2017;36(2):114-131. doi:10.1017/pls.2017.25

Crockett MJ, Siegel JZ, Kurth-Nelson Z, Dayan P, Dolan RJ. Moral transgressions corrupt neural representations of value. Nature Neuroscience. 2017;20(6):879-885. doi:10.1038/nn.4557

Cacioppo JT, Cacioppo S, Petty RE. The neuroscience of persuasion: A review with an emphasis on issues and opportunities. Social Neuroscience. 2018;13(2):129-172. doi:10.1080/17470919.2016.1273851

Further Reading:

Lyon L. Dead salmon and voodoo correlations: Should we be sceptical about functional MRI? Brain (London, England: 1878). 2017;140(8):e53-e53. doi:10.1093/brain/awx180

Carlson TN, McClean CT, Settle JE. Follow Your Heart: Could Psychophysiology Be Associated with Political Discussion Network Homogeneity? Political Psychology. 2020;41(1):165-187. doi:10.1111/pops.12594

Declerck CH, Boone C, Emonds G. When do people cooperate? The neuroeconomics of prosocial decision making. Brain and Cognition. 2013;81(1):95-117. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2012.09.009

Voigt K, Voigt K, Murawski C, et al. Hard decisions shape the neural coding of preferences. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2019;39(4):718-726. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1681-18.2018
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop key theoretical knowledge and critical understanding through readings, discussion, group work and reflection on core texts (SCQF characteristic 1 & 2).

Students will gain cognitive skills by designing their own experiments in relation to a contemporary decision-relevant challenge (SCQF characteristic 2).

Students will develop communication skills by interacting with academic staff and their peers and by delivering multiple presentations live and in video and blog format (SCQF characteristic 3 & 4).

Students will gain autonomy, accountability and learn to work with others by collaborating in small groups on their experimental work up preparation and during the preparation stage of their assessment, developing their communication skills, and gaining valuable skills in working with others (SCQF characteristics 3& 4).
Course organiserProf Laura Cram
Tel: (0131 6)51 5571
Course secretaryMr Lawrence East
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