MSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Human Neuroimaging modules

On this page you can find out about the modules on our MSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Human Neuroimaging.

To learn more about the course, visit the University of Sheffield's online prospectus:

MSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Human Neuroimaging

In semester one, you’ll build on your existing knowledge, giving you a thorough understanding of the cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience, mathematical modelling and simulation. Once you’ve developed a solid foundation in these areas at the core of cognitive neuroscience and human neruroimaging, semester two will be devoted to advanced modules where you’ll tailor your learning and choose to specialise in one of two distinct routes of study: pathway 1 or pathway 2.

Pathway 1 will give you an in-depth knowledge of practical neuroanatomy, training you in cutting-edge neuroimaging techniques whilst also introducing you to the brain’s major computational systems and how they're modelled. Pathway 2 will build on your technical skills in computational neuroscience, exploring advanced mathematical and computational models alongside neuronal information processing. Whichever route you choose, this training will develop your transferable skills in critical reading, writing, project management, computational modelling, data analysis and visualisation, and scientific programming using the languages Python and MATLAB.

All students will study:

Fundamentals of Cognition (15 credits)

Module leader: Dr Myles Jones

Assessment: Examination

This module provides an overview of the fundamental issues in cognitive neuroscience and its contributory disciplines. Topics include: fundamental issues in cognition (memory, attention, learning, perception, affect), developmental processes from neuroscience, psychology and dynamic systems perspectives, and theoretical approaches including cognitive neuropsychology, symbolic and sub-symbolic modelling, and methodological issues.

Fundamentals of Neuroscience (15 credits)

Module leader: Professor Paul Overton

Assessment: Examination

This module provides an introduction to core aspects of contemporary neuroscience, and describes the current state of knowledge in the field, central theoretical issues and key practical approaches. Topics that are discussed include: neural signalling, sensation and sensory processing, movement and its central control, the changing brain (development and plasticity in the nervous system) and complex brain functions.

Neuroimaging 1 (15 credits)

Module leader: Dr Liat Levita

This module provides an overview of neuroimaging techniques and fundamental data analysis methodologies employed, specifically those based around functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The two aspects of neuroimaging (techniques and data analysis) will be taught over the semester. For neuroimaging techniques, after introducing the physical principles underlying fMRI, a description of fMRI-based methods for mapping brain structure and function will follow. For neuroimaging data analysis, the general linear model methodology will be introduced based on the software SPM (Statistical Parametric Mapping), which is one of the most widely used packages for fMRI data analysis. Issues concerning fMRI experimental design and efficiency will also be discussed and taught in depth.

Neuroimaging 2 (15 credits)

Module leader: Dr Tim Riley

This module further develops on the foundational material in Neuroimaging 1 and provides an overview of neuroimaging techniques and fundamental data analysis methodologies. Specifically, it will focus on the techniques of electrophysiology, EEG, and MEG, optical methods and calcium imaging, each of which will be introduced in the lecture component of the module. In the associated lab classes, students will gain first-hand experience of analysing and processing data sets arising from these techniques.

Data Analysis and Visualization (15 credits)

Module leader: Dr Tom Stafford

This module will train students in basic skills in computational data analysis. Students will learn how to import/export scientific data sets in different formats, how to process and transform them, and how to visualise results. Teaching will be hands-on and computer lab-based and will focus on the programming language Python and associated scientific software. No prior programming experience will be necessary.

Research Project in Cognitive Neuroscience (75 credits)

Module leader: Dr Stuart Wilson

The module allows students to work on an extended research project within computational neuroscience and/or cognitive neuroscience and/or systems neuroscience and/or analysis of brain imaging data. Students will learn and apply appropriate research techniques, analyse and interpret the results, and write up the research findings using recognised journal frameworks. Students will receive guidance and regular feedback from their supervisors. The project culminates in an oral presentation and a written dissertation.


Module pathways

Students will also study two modules in either pathway 1 or pathway 2:

Pathway 1

Neuro-Anatomy (15 credits)

Module leader: Dr Tom Farrow

Assessment: Practical spotter exam

This module combines a lecture series on basic and functional neuroanatomy with laboratory dissection of the human brain and spinal cord, thereby enabling students to acquire an in-depth and critical understanding of core neuroanatomy. The dissection course will also be complimented by examination of histology specimens to demonstrate the microscopic neuroanatomy and observing a standard brain cut session with a consultant neuropathologist.

Systems Neuroscience (15 credits)

Module leader: Dr Chris Martin

The module provides an advanced understanding of the brain's major computational systems and how they have been modelled. Major processing units of the brain (e.g, cerebellum and basal ganglia) will be described and, where appropriate, emphasis will be placed on understanding each of these structures as a series of repeating micro- or macrocircuits. The various strategies adopted for modelling these circuits and their interactions with other brain systems will be presented and their predictions for biology considered.

Pathway 2

Computational Neuroscience 1 (15 credits)

Module leader: Dr Robert Schmidt

This module provides an introduction to methods in computational neuroscience from two different, but complementary perspectives. First, a high-level or ‘top-down’ view explores how neurons encode and decode sensory information. Second a ‘bottom-up’ or mechanistic approach looking at single neuron models at different levels of abstraction – from a simple ‘integrate-and-fire’ approximations to full conductance-based compartmental models. Throughout this module, the emphasis is on the use of mathematical and computational models of single neuronal function.

Computational Neuroscience 2 (15 credits)

Module leader: Dr Stuart Wilson

This module is based on the themes of information theory, Bayes' theorem, and learning algorithms. Information theory places limits on how much Shannon information can be transmitted/received by any communication channel, Bayes' theorem provides a method for interpreting incomplete or noisy information, and learning algorithms provide a mechanism for acquiring/storing/retrieving information about the environment. These three related ideas will be explored in the context of neuronal information processing.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 8 April 2021


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