Universität Wien FIND
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180161 SE MEi:CogSci Journal Club (2020W)

Causal inference in cognitive neuroscience (neuroimaging and stimulation)

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Wednesday 18:00 - 20:30,

Wednesday 07.10. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 14.10. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 21.10. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 28.10. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 04.11. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 11.11. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 18.11. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 25.11. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 02.12. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 16.12. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital
Wednesday 13.01. 18:00 - 20:30 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

Cognitive neuroscience currently deals with and promises new insights into topics that held human minds captivated for millennia. Among those are perception, awareness, social cognition, emotion and motivation. Despite the continuous gain of knowledge in these domains imaging methods as mentioned below rely on co-occurrence between physiological measures and behavioral variations. When two events occur together, humans often conclude that they have a cause-and-effect relationship.

Neuroimaging methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) have become methods of choice in cognitive neuroscience. However, these methods are merely correlational since they measure brain activity during a specific task or condition compared to another. Neurostimulation methods such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) claim to introduce causality into imaging studies, since they allow to transiently manipulate activity in specific brain areas. Yet, we still know little about the mechanisms of actions of these neurostimulation methods. If we found a specific area for believing in god or empathy in the brain, would it really be possible to enhance or inhibit these phenomena by means of neurostimulation or do we overestimate the potential of our state-of-the-art methods?

The participants of this Journal Club will learn to formulate a scientific question, find and judge literature resources, properly dissect articles, and present research data to finish with an evidence-grounded argument. Reflection, connecting dots and thinking outside the box will be encouraged and enforced.
The journal club will include discussion of current research questions in cognitive science on the basis of primary literature and selection of important current publications in the field of cognitive science as well as presentation and discussion in the course of the journal club.

Learning Outcomes:
- Deeper understanding of current approaches in cognitive science and their influence on the field.
- Basic understanding of the principles of neuroscience methods (fMRI, TMS) and critical awareness of their limitations
- Ability to follow scientific developments in the field of cognitive science in a reflective manner
- Ability to interpret and evaluate results of primary scientific literature at an advanced level
- Ability to choose autonomously and give a condensed account on primary scientific literature
- Ability to communicate one's expertise in order to contribute constructive criticism in the context of scientific debate
- Ability to moderate dicussion on current topics in cognitive science
- Ability to deal with different points of view in an intercultural context

Assessment and permitted materials

- compulsory attendance
- 2 presentations of current publications (final grade: 40%)
- Participation in discussions (final grade: 40%)
- One written review of a publication (final grade: 20%)

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Minimum requirement for a positive grade are participation in at least 80% of sessions (including proof that all papers were read) and presentation of a current publication (selected in accordance to the student's interest and overall course topic).

Basis for grading will be classroom work 40% (active attendance, answering questions to literature, own good questions), 40% own presentations (2 well-prepared papers presented in front of the class), 20% of the final grade will be based on the quality of a written review of one publication.

Generally student's attendance and deliverables are scored based on the level of understanding. Reading publications and remembering basic concepts are a must-be criterion. A profound analysis, critical appraisal, explanation of concepts derived from multiple publications and the ability to evaluate and use evidence to argue will lead to highest scores.

5 = <60%
4 = 60-69%
3 = 70%-79%
2 = 80%-89%
1 = 90%-100%

Examination topics

Preparation, presentation and discussion of current publications/literature in cognitive science

Reading list

Will be announced at the first meeting and partly chosen according to the interests of the participants.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 05.10.2020 10:09