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Unit information: Theory and Practice in Neuropsychological Research in 2015/16

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Unit name Theory and Practice in Neuropsychological Research
Unit code PSYCM0039
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Kit Pleydell-Pearce
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Psychological Science
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This Unit has two central aims. First, it provides a review of current theoretical understanding of the functional organisation of the human brain. Second, it provides a comprehensive review of MRI imaging to study the human brain at work, both with regard to psychological as well as neurological research. The unit is divided into Parts A and B.

Part A focuses on key theoretical issues within neuropsychology. It involves ten 2-hr lectures, and each focuses upon a major conceptual issue (e.g. sleep, emotion, reward, functionalism, consciousness, representation of the self, neglect, theories of brain function, normal and abnormal ageing). Content involves coverage of both cortical and subcortical function and will emphasise system-wide contributions to integrated cognition and behaviour. Topics have been selected in order to provide students with an advanced understanding of human brain function and an appreciation of system-wide interconnectivity.

Part B provides insight into current state-of-the art use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in basic and clinical research into the human brain. In addition to seminars by MR specialists (12 hours) this unit will also include a visit to an operational scanner housed within the Clinical Research and Imaging Centre of the University of Bristol (CRIC). Part B also provides opportunities for first-hand experience of data analysis on workstations housed within the School. The central aim of part B is to provide students with a critical perspective and understanding of magnetic resonance-based brain imaging techniques in the context of neuropsychological and neurological research.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of Part A, students will have an understanding of a range of contemporary theories concerning cerebral bases of psychological function.

Intended learning outcomes for Part B are: 1. A deeper understanding of the advances in magnetic resonance imaging in scientific research and current limitations of the technique. 2. A capacity to think independently and generate novel theoretical positions. 3. An appreciation of the relationship between scientific and clinical research. 4. An understanding of mechanisms underlying brain function.

Teaching Information

For Part A, teaching will involve 10 x 2 hour lectures that will be led by research-active members of the School of Experimental Psychology.

For Part B, teaching will involve twelve seminars that will be led by internal and external research active academics with expertise in MRI and related technologies. Taught sessions will be supplemented by a visit to the MR facilities housed within CRIC, followed by an image analysis session on work stations in the School. Taught content will also include attendance at the assessed presentations delivered by student peers.

Assessment Information

Part A: 2000 word coursework essay which requires students to provide evidence of critical understanding of a topic in theoretical neuropsychology (50% of total unit mark).

Part B: Each student individually delivers an assessed 30 minute presentation on a topic in MR (50% of total unit mark). To gain the credits for the unit, students must pass a formative image analysis exercise.

Reading and References

The unit is primarily focused on peer reviewed papers. Some basic supporting texts are listed below.

Part A

  • Feinberg, T. E., & Farah, M. J. (Eds.). (2003). Behavioural Neurology and Neuropsychology (2nd Edition). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Kolb, B., & Wishaw, I. Q. (2009). Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology (6th Edition). New York: Worth Publishers.

Part B

  • McRobbie D. W., Moore E. A., Graves M. J., & Prince M. R. (2004). MRI: From Picture to Proton. Cambridge: University Press.
  • Jezzard P., Matthews P. M., & Smith S. M. (2002). Functional MRI: An Introduction to Methods. Oxford: University Press.