PYM0NS-Methods in Neuroscience

Module Provider: Psychology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Tom Johnstone


Summary module description:
The purpose of this module is to inform students about some of the methods used in current neuroscience research. Students read set material in advance, and discuss them in a series of seminars. Students are required to make informal presentations of written material. The focus of the module is on methodological issues in the study of neuroscience, in particular understanding the function of the brain using fMRI, EEG and TMS. These methods will be compared to more traditional approaches such as animal-based research and neuropsychology, the study of humans with brain lesions.

The module aims (1) to discuss critically a variety of methods for research in neuroscience, concentrating on fMRI, EEG, TMS and neuropsychology; (2) to present topical research in neuroscience, and to link it with research actively undertaken at Reading; (3) to enable students to perform critical evaluations of neuroscience research; (4) to support students in the design and planning of research activity.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
• Give a critical account of a range of human-based methods deployed in answering research questions in neuroscience.
• Describe how different theoretical frameworks might influence the choice of specific human neuroscience research methods.
• Demonstrate a clear understanding of theory and empirical research in selected sub-areas of neuroscience with a focus on human functional brain imaging.
• Critically assess the impact that different human brain imaging techniques have had and are likely to have on progress in neuroscience.

Assessment will be by written coursework (10 credits). The written assignment will be a Critical Evaluation of Research. For more details about this, see Blackboard.

Additional outcomes:
It is anticipated that this module will provide a platform for subsequent work by students on postgraduate courses in psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Outline content:
The topics covered will include a general introduction to methods used in cognitive neuroscience, followed by more detailed introduction to specific techniques including functional MRI, psychophysiology, TMS. The seminars will be coupled with demonstration sessions.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Students will be given directed reading which they will be expected to have completed before attending lectures. Teaching sessions will last approximately 2½ hours. A member of the Department of Psychology staff will give a short lecture on the important learning points. There will then be opportunity for 1.5 to 2 hours’ critical discussion and class exercises, to enable students to complete the required coursework assignment. Students should be aware that the standards expected of them, in oral and written contributions, are higher than those expected in undergraduate work. Their work should in particular bear on issues of methodology.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 15
Guided independent study 85
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Critical Evaluation assignment: This written assignment will be in the form of a critical review & evaluation of an empirical research paper, as would be carried out by a journal reviewer or editor.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
A failing piece of coursework may be resubmitted in the Spring term, at
a date agreed with the Course Director.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 31 March 2017

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