Methods in Cognitive and Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience

Module titleMethods in Cognitive and Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience
Module codePSYM214
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Aureliu Lavric (Convenor)

Professor Huw Williams (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module you will explore the cutting edge of research in both Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience and Clinical Psychology.  Across a range of topics, you will obtain a thorough understanding of both theoretical and practical approaches to understanding brain and behaviour relationships. You will learn how to use techniques developed for understanding brain functions, and how these may be used in clinical populations to improve outcomes – both in neurological and mental health groups.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to develop a critical awareness of the broad range of methods available in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology and neuropsychology, using the pool of expertise at our disposal among the School academic staff and associates. The module will enable you to sample and learn from a wide range of examples of historical and current research within these research areas. It aims to develop expertise in critical analysis and research design, and provide experience in the communication of ideas in a concise and engaging manner.

Through attending the weekly seminars and completing the assessments, you will further develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • problem solving (linking theory to practice, developing your own ideas with confidence, showing research and policy awareness, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems)
  • time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group)
  • collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others
  • supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose), and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively, informing others of your views effectively, responding positively to questions to develop ideas).

The teaching contributions on this module involve multiple elements of research undertaken by module staff. In the first part of the module (in Term 1), Aureliu Lavric will present some research where he used EEG and eyetracking, Chris Dodds will present some of his functional MRI studies, and Ian McLaren will provide some examples of computational modelling based on his research. In the second part of the module (Term 2) Huw Williams will present his work on crime and neurological conditions, Adam Zeman will talk about his research on consciousness and neuro-imaging, and Nick Moberley will present some of his research on clinical psychology interventions for severe mental health disorders. Moreover, you will be encouraged to undertake enquiry-led learning, for example through research on policy reviews in student co-lead workshops in the second part of the module.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe extensively research methods in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, and clinical psychology and neuropsychology, discussing the basic uses of each method and some of its developments, clarify the assumptions underlying each method, explain the major limitations or uncertainties of the method, and recall some illustrative applications
  • 2. Evaluate critically research in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology and neuropsychology
  • 3. Discuss at an advanced level an illustrative range of research questions being addressed in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, clinical psychology and neuropsychology
  • 4. Give detailed examples of applications of clinical psychology and neuropsychology theory to practical issues of assessment and treatment in major neurological and psychological conditions
  • 5. Illustrate at an advanced level the application of one methodology (or group of methodologies) to a particular research issue within (in Term 1) cognitive psychology/neuroscience and (in Term 2) clinical psychology/neuropsychology, in each case acquired through reading the research literature and completing an essay

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of a range of methodologies
  • 7. Adequately relate specific research questions to appropriate methodology
  • 8. Command a variety of research skills to address research questions
  • 9. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively, fluently and professionally by written, graphic and oral means

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Engage in advanced critical analysis of research design
  • 11. Assimilate a wide array of information for problem solving, utilise theory to guide diagnostic processes to arrive at solutions, and develop new questions that may help guide theoretical developments
  • 12. Debate arguments presented in class in open discussion
  • 13. Deliver short presentations making use of modern visual aids
  • 14. Discuss research with instructors and peers

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

You will be expected to attend, and prepare for:

  • Term 1 - 10 x 2-hour lecture/seminar sessions
  • Term 2 - 10 x 2-hour lecture/seminar sessions

The following is an indicative syllabus. Details and running order may vary as a result of staff availability. A more detailed syllabus will be provided at the beginning of each term.

Cognitive psychology and neuroscience (Term 1, 10 weeks):

  • Introduction to scope and coverage of Term 1.
    • Introspection as a method in cognitive psychology.
    • Measures of performance accuracy.
    • Mental chronometry: the use of reaction time and other measures of the duration of cognitive processes, both as an ordinal measure of processing efficiency, and as a quantitative basis for inferring stages and pathways of processing and their properties.
  • Electrophysiological methods (EEF, ERP,MEG) for the study of cognitive processes.
  • Eyetracking as an index of attention and processing in scene perception and reading.
  • Functional neuroimaging (fMRI, PET) of cognitive processes.
  • Temporal and spatial localisation of cognitive function with transcranial magnetic stimulation.
  • Psychophysiological methods (measures of arousal/emotion) and their uses.
  • Computational modelling of cognitive function.

Clinical psychology and neuropsychology (Term 2, 10 weeks):

  • An introductory lecture will outline the scope and coverage of methods used in clinical psychology and neuropsychology, and provide an introduction to clinical interviewing.
  • Introduction to functional anatomy
  • Single case methodology in neuropsychology
  • Assessment in neuropsychology: covering general ability, memory, executive function and attention with reference to traumatic brain injury and dementia.
  • Rehabilitation of cognitive disorder.
  • Assessment and treatment in mood disorder.
  • Assessment and treatment in management of child-parent relations.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching40Seminars (20 x 2 hours)
Guided Independent Study260Research and preparation of for seminar discussion and essay or “Post-Note” assignment


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussion and small group exercisesOngoing in sessions1-10, 12-14Via discussion
Student presentations15-20 minutes2-7, 9, 10,12-14Via discussion

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1504000 words1-3, 6-11Oral
Essay 2 or post note504000 words1-11Written and/or oral


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1Essay 11-3, 6-11By end of summer term
Essay 2 or post noteEssay 2 or post note1-11By end of summer term

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The module mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit further assessments based on which assessments were failed originally. The module mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Term 1: Cognitive psychology and neuroscience:

  • Meyer DE, Osman AM, Irwin DE, Yantis Y (1988) Modern mental chronometry.  Biological Psychology, 26, 3-67
  • Posner (2005) Timing the brain: mental chronometry as a tool in neuroscience. PLoS Biology, 3,(2) e51.
  • Sternberg, S.  (2004) RT experimentation.  Notes from Penn Psychology-600-301 Proseminar in Psychological Methods. Can be downloaded from]
  • Ratcliff R, & McKoon, G. (2008) The Diffusion Decision Model: Theory and Data for Two-Choice Decision Tasks. Neural Computation, 20, 873-922.
  • Liversedge, S. P.,  Findlay, J. M. (2000). Saccadic eye movements and cognition. Trends in Cognitive Science, 6-14.
  • Rayner, K. (2009). Eye movements and attention in reading, scene perception, and visual search Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 62, 1457-1506.
  • Walsh, V. & Cowey, A. (2000). Transcranial magnetic stimulation and cognitive neuroscience. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 1(1), 73-79.
  • Hallett, M. (2007). Transcranial magnetic stimulation: A primer. Neuron, 55(2), 187-99.
  • Luck, S. J. (2005). An introduction to the event-related potential technique. The MIT Press, Cam., Mass.
  • Andreassi, J.L. (2007). Psychophysiology: Human Behavior and Physiological Response. (5th Ed.) Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
  • Tong, F., & Pratte, M. S. (2012). Decoding patterns of human brain activity. Annual review of psychology, 63, 483-509.
  • Matthews, P. M., Honey, G. D., & Bullmore, E. T. (2006). Applications of fMRI in translational medicine and clinical practice. Nature Reviews Neuroscience,7(9), 732-744.
  • Poldrack, R. A. (2012). The future of fMRI in cognitive neuroscience. Neuroimage, 62(2), 1216-1220.
  • McClelland, J. L. (2009). The place of modeling in cognitive science. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1, 11-38.
  • Green D.W. et al (1996) Cognitive Science: An introduction.  Ch. 2 Explanation and simulation in cognitive science.
  • Shallice, T., & Cooper, R. P. (2011). The organisation of mind. (parts of) Chs 1,2,4. Oxford: OUP.

Term 2: Clinical psychology and neuropsychology

  • Parsonage M. Traumatic Brain Injury and Offending: An Economic Analysis. Centre for Mental Health; 2016.
  • Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Harrington H, Milne BJ. Males on the life-course-persistent and adolescence-limited antisocial pathways: follow-up at age 26 years. Development and psychopathology. 2002;14(1):179-207.
  • Williams WH, McAuliffe KA, Cohen MH, Parsonage M, Ramsbotham DJ. Traumatic brain injury and juvenile offending: Complex causal links offer multiple targets to reduce crime. The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. 2015;30(2):69-74.
  • Bigler ED. Anterior and middle cranial fossa in traumatic brain injury: relevant neuroanatomy and neuropathology in the study of neuropsychological outcome. Neuropsychology. 2007;21(5):515-31.
  • Hutchinson P, Kirkpatrick P. Acute Head Injury for the Neurologist. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. 2002;73(Suppl 1):i3-i7.
  • Caeyenberghs K, Leemans A, Leunissen I, Gooijers J, Michiels K, Sunaert S, et al. Altered structural networks and executive deficits in traumatic brain injury patients. Brain Structure and Function. 2014;219(1):193-209.
  • Yates PJ, Williams WH, Harris A, Round A, Jenkins R. An epidemiological study of head injuries in a UK population attending an emergency department. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. 2006;77(5):699-701.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Methods, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology, neuropsychology

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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