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Cognitive Neuroscience of Action Control


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 timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


It is mandatory for all students to register for each exam and to confirm registration for each exam in My Studymap. This is possible up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the examination. You cannot take an exam without a valid pre-registration and confirmation in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

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

  1. Peer-reviewed literature in the area of cognitive neuroscience.
  2. Peer-reviewed review articles summarizing diverse fields linking to action control.

For example:

C. elegans locomotion: small circuits, complex functions

Descending Pathways in Motor Control

Error Correction, Sensory Prediction, and Adaptation in Motor Control

Assembly and Function of Spinal Circuits for Motor Control

The Neurocognitive Bases of Human Volition

Contact information

dr. A. Ghosh