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Human Potential: Theory


The course information below is from academic year 2016-2017. As of 1 July 2017 this information will be updated for academic year 2017-2018.

Entry requirements

Only open to master’s students in Psychology with specialisation Applied Cognitive Psychology


In this course, a variety of approaches aimed at enhancing cognitive performance (e.g. vigilance, creativity, memory, productivity) is critically evaluated. Students will learn which techniques are applied, whether they really work, and how this is tested. The mechanisms behind cognitive enhancement are discussed in both a behavioural and a psychobiological framework.

Lecture overview (attendance compulsory):
1) Context: circadian rhythm, climate, order, music, light (G.Band)
2) State of the body: motivational states, cardio-vascular fitness, nutrition, stress, plasticity, reward, neurofeedback (G.Band)
3) Cognitive training: mnemonics, mental imagery, speed-reading, self-regulation (G.Band)
4) Cognitive training: sleep learning, serious gaming, mental challenge, engaging life style (K. Olfers)
5) Drugs: improving attention, creativity, memory etc. (K. Olfers)
6) Mind set: meditation, hypnosis, mindfulness, spirituality, relaxation, flow, mood (K. Olfers)
7 and 8) Current Topic (t.b.a.)

Course objectives

This is the theoretical part of the specialization in human potential. After this course, students have a comprehensive overview of prevalent techniques for cognitive enhancement and their current scientific status.


For the timetables of your lectures, work groups and exams, please select your study programme in:
Psychology timetables

Semester 1:



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


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.
Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

Intensive master course
8 lectures of 2 hours (attendance compulsory)
8 work group sessions of 2 hours for student presentations and discussions (attendance compulsory)

Assessment method

The assessment is based on:

  • Individual presentation and discussion (30%)

  • Individual paper (30%)

  • Exam (40%)

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken. Please see the information concerning fraud.

Reading list

Examples of literature (total appr. 200 pages):

  • Vandewalle, G., Maquet, P., & Dijk, D. J. (2009). Light as a modulator of cognitive brain function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 429-438.

  • Anguera, J. a, Boccanfuso, J., Rintoul, J. L., Al-Hashimi, O., Faraji, F., Janowich, J., … Gazzaley, a. (2013). Video game training enhances cognitive control in older adults. Nature. 501(7465), 97–101.

  • Margolin, S. J., Driscoll, C., Toland, M. J., & Kegler, J. L. (2013). E-readers, Computer Screens, or Paper: Does Reading Comprehension Change Across Media Platforms? Applied Cognitive Psychology. 27(4), 512–519.

  • Hertzog, C., Kramer, A. F., Wilson, R. S., & Lindenberger, U. (2009). Enrichment effects on adult cognitive development: Can the functional capacity of older adults be preserved and enhanced? Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 9.

  • Benton, D. (2010). The influence of dietary status on the cognitive performance of children. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 24, 457-470.

  • Hillman, C. H., Erickson, K. I., & Kramer, A. F. (2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 9, 58-65.

  • Lutz, A., Slagter, H.A., Dunne, J.D., & Davidson, R.J. (2008). Cognitive-emotional interactions: Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Science. 12, 163-169.

  • Gruzelier, J.H. (2014). EEG-neurofeedback for optimising performance. I: A review of cognitive and affective outcome in healthy participants, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 44, 124-141.

  • Iiyoshi, T., Hannafin, M., & Wang, F. (2005). Cognitive tools and student‐centred learning: rethinking tools, functions and applications. Educational Media International. 42.

Contact information

Kerwin J.F. Olfers MSc