Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Cognitive Neuroscience: Insights into Brain Plasticity 4H PSYCH4018

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will survey the paradoxical (sometimes productive) neuro-psychological phenomena that can be observed after lesions of the central or peripheral nervous system, or by non-invasive (transcranial) brain stimulation. These phenomena contrast with the more common functional deficits of brain lesions or brain stimulation, and will be used as windows to detail current concepts in cognitive neuroscience, brain plasticity and rehabilitation.


10 hours over a 5 week block

Requirements of Entry

Successful completion of level 3H psychology single honours

Excluded Courses



Examination 100% you will answer 1 question from a choice of 3

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

Each lecture begins with case descriptions of patients with paradoxical (sometimes productive) effects of stimulation/lesions on behaviour. Examples include: hyper-attention; an anarchic hand; the experience of leaving one's own body; or the integration of phantom limbs into one's own body scheme. The lectures explore how these phenomena fit or informed models of cognitive processes and plasticity in different domains (e.g. attention, motor control, interhemispheric interactions, multisensory integration) and points to implications for neurorehabilitation. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Evaluate non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (including TMS, tDCS, tACS) that are widely used in the cognitive sciences as neurocognitive probes, as well as to their relation with other neuroimaging approaches.


■ Evaluate functions that can be uncovered by brain-stimulation/disruption or peripheral lesions (peripheral visual pathways), due to the potential of the brain to cope with interference or deafferentiation (plasticity).


■ Evaluate the implications of these observations on current models of brain organization across different cognitive domains (attention, motor control, interhemispheric interactions, multisensory integration)


■ Outline current experimental approaches in clinical neurorehabilitation that use current concepts in brain plasticity for neuromodulation to bias brain reorganization in desired directions.


■ Appreciate the complexity of brain organization at the macroscopic level (network of brain areas).

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.