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Cognitive Neuroscience of Action Control


Important Note

  • All Semester II bachelor and master psychology courses and examinations (2020-2021) will be offered in an on-line format.

  • If it is safe and possible to do so, supplementary course meetings may be planned on-campus. However, attendance at these meetings will not be required to successfully complete Semester II courses.

  • All obligatory work groups and examinations will be offered on-line during Central European Time, which is local time in the Netherlands.

  • Information on the mode of instruction and the assessment method per course will be offered in Brightspace, considering the possibilities that are available at that moment. The information in Brightspace is leading during the Corona crisis, even if this does not match the information in the Prospectus.

Entry requirements

Only open to MSc Psychology (research) students


This course is intended to provide an overview of, and discuss state-of-the-art developments in the cognitive neuroscience of attention and action control. The selection of papers focuses on the experimental analysis of action-control mechanisms including goal representation, action selection, action planning, sequential action planning, multitasking, and error monitoring.

Each course meeting aims to provide a deeper insight into the theoretical background of research on one of these core mechanisms and will be based on one or more key papers that either review a substantial body of recent research or make strong statements reflecting the different perspectives on the issue.

Each student will choose one topic to follow in-depth and will present this topic to peers under the meeting themes. These presentations – guided by the instructor – will form the bedrock for the written reports.

Course objectives

Upon completion of the course, students will have acquired three skills that are essential for experimental researchers working in the area of cognitive neuroscience, namely:

  • Gain an overview of recent theoretical developments in the area of action control and a deeper insight into the relationship between control processes and brain functions;

  • Get a better understanding of how modern techniques to analyse brain processes and careful, creative experimenting can inform psychological theorizing; and

  • Practice how to analyse associated methodological and theoretical problems and how to develop, communicate and defend their own opinion.


Meeting 1: Introduction and choice of topic
Meeting 2: Introduction to the chosen topic
Meeting 3: Theoretical approaches
Meeting 4: Methodological approaches
Meeting 5: Theoretical implications of methodological limitations
Meeting 6: Methodological approaches for the future
Meeting 7: Theoretical approaches for the future
Meeting 8: Implications of the research: from in laboratory to daily life

For the timetables of your work groups meetings, please select your study programme in: Psychology timetables




Students need to enroll for work group sessions. Master’s course registration

Mode of instruction

8 2-hour work group sessions.

Assessment method

The assessment of the course is based on:
50% Written Report
50% Oral presentations

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

Hommel, B., Brown, S.B.R.E., & Nattkemper, D. (2016). Human action control: From intentions to movements. Switzerland: Springer.

Contact information

dr. A. Ghosh