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Cognition, or how the Brain Works


Admission requirements

This course is an Honours Class and therefore in principle only available to students of the Honours College. There are a few places available for regular students.


The aim of this Honours Class is to provide a comprehensive view on how the brain functions. The invited faculty consists of renowned experts in the field of cognitive neurosciences. The topics that will be discussed range from the definition of cognition, through the coming into being of cognition at the beginning and its decline at the end of the life cycle. Aspects of cognition to be discussed comprise language, consciousness, sleep and dreaming, effects of stress, cognitive enhancement, cognition and economics, and brain-computer interfaces. This Honours Class is supported by the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC) and several leaders of this institute will be involved in its programming.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will: have a comprehensive view on how the brain functions.


Thursdays 19 January, 9 and 23 February, 9, 16 and 23 March, 6 and 20 April, 11 and 18 May; 17:15-21:00hrs.


Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), room H1-14/18


  1. January 19: Coming together, brief overview of the Honours Class and student assignments
  2. February 9: Brain and Cognition. Dr. Egbert Lakke
  3. February 23: Brain Hedonics. Mw. Dr. Lotte van Dillen
  4. March 9: The Sleepless Brain. Prof.dr.Eus van Someren
  5. March 16: Language development in children. Prof. dr. Claartje Levelt
  6. March 23: Brain-computer interfaces. Prof. dr. Nick Ramsey
  7. April 6: Imaging brain networks. Prof. dr. Serge Rombouts
  8. April 20: Resilience to Stress. Prof. dr. Nic van der Wee
  9. May 11: The Alzheimer Mystery. Mw. Prof.dr. Wiesje van der Flier
  10. May 18: The magic of putting theory into practice. Drs. Ewald Wismeijer

Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Lectures: 10 sessions of 4 hours

  • Literature reading: 5 hours per session

  • Session organization: 15 hours

  • Assignments & final essay: 40 hours

Assessment method

  • 20% Organising a session

  • 10% Active participation in the sessions

  • 70% Final essay of minimum 2000 words

Blackboard and uSis

Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard site two weeks prior to the start of the course.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Reading list

The reading materials for the individual sessions will be posted on BlackBoard.


Enrolling in this course is possible from Monday November 7th until Sunday November 20th through the Honours Academy, via this link


Prof. dr. Peter van den Elsen