International opportunities for students

Presentation

Cognitive neuroscience is the study of the mind and brain, investigating how and why people perceive, think and act the way they do. The knowledge and skills gained in the Master's course will provide a foundation for advanced scientific research, but also prepare for professional applications in the fields of education, consumer and economic decision making, psychology and clinical research.

The Master's course in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Trento provides research-focused training with a diverse, international group of faculty and researchers.

The two year program combines courses in neuroscience, cognition, statistics, advanced signal and data analysis with hands-on training in cutting-edge research techniques. These include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), magnetic encephalography (MEG), computational modeling, comparative cognition (animal models), EEG, eye tracking, cinematic motion tracking and psychophysics. For the second year an extensive internship and a research project leading to the Master's dissertation are scheduled.

The following courses are for the a.y. 2016-2017. Some of them are subject to change for the a.y. 2017-2018.

Teaching

Mandatory courses

Foundations of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology is the study of the mental processes underlying our ability to perceive, pay attention, think, categorize, use language and remember. Historically, cognitive psychology began with the information processing approach but we will also explore recent research on topics such as emotions and numerical cognition, and will include insights from neuropsychology, neuroimaging and lifespan development. The teaching methods will include demonstrations, class discussion and lectures and will emphasize the critical link between theory and experimentation.

Foundations of Cognitive Neuroscience

This course will examine the neural basis of higher mental functions, including brain systems supporting perception, object recognition, attention, memory, spatial functions, language, and decision making. We will explore the neuroanatomical and neurophysiological basis of cognitive functions, considering evidence form functional neuroimaging and clinical studies. Cognitive neuroscience approaches to disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease will also be explored. The teaching methods will include lectures, demonstrations, patient videos, class discussion and practical sessions in different neuroimaging labs. This first part of the course will concentrate on language, memory, perception and attentional mechanisms.

Research Design

This course will cover some fundamentals of algebra, probability theory, and statistics. Furthermore the course will cover all aspects of a research project, such as , sample sizes, measures, and type of experimental designs. Students will present and comment on their own research projects in progress. Discussions also include presentations of research to various audiences, abstracts, reviews, grant process, and scientific ethics.

Foundations of Brain Imaging

This course will cover basic neural anatomy and methodology for the application of the main neuroimaging techniques used in cognitive neuroscience, such as functional and structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Magnetoenchelalography and EEG.

Intro to Human Language

This module is an introduction to language science (linguistics) covering phonetics and phonology, morphology and lexical knowledge, syntax, phrase semantics, discourse, and anaphora. No previous knowledge of linguistics is required.

Computational Skills in Cognitive Science

The course introduces computer programming, focusing on those aspects that are most relevant to behavioral and neuroimaging studies in cognitive neuroscience.

Neural Foundations of Human Behavior

This course has been designed to cover basic anatomical and functional aspects of the central nervous system. Specific topics covered include neuronal function, synaptic transmission, sensory processing, movement, sleep and neural plasticity. The objective is to present an analysis of our understanding of the functional organization of the human brain.

Elective courses

Independent Studies

The independent studies course is a short research internship. The goal is for students to gain first-hand experience with experimental research. The course includes the writing of a report of the performed activities.

Current Issues in Neuroscience: Animal Models

The course would provide the theoretical and empirical foundations of comparative research on animal cognition. It will cover all the traditional topics in animal cognition - perception, learning and memory, categorization, thinking and reasoning, and communication/language. Practical in the animal cognition lab will be part of the course.

Hands on Methods Course

The first part of the class focuses on fMRI data analysis, i.e. the statistics of fMRI data analysis and how that should influence your design decisions and conclusions. By understanding the statistical concepts of fMRI data analysis, students will understand the rationale of the preprocessing pipeline in fMRI and the types of choices fMRI researchers have to make when designing their experiments. By actually modeling and analyzing fMRI data students will get a deeper understanding of fMRI data analysis and at the same time gain experience that will make it easier for them to read fMRI papers and to perform their own imaging studies in the future. The second part of the course involves the hand on analysis of MEG data.

Clinical Neuroscience

This course examines the application of neuroscience methods to the clinical setting. Topics include the application of neuroimaging in the daily hospital setting and advanced MR techniques for clinically oriented research on neurogenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. The course includes lectures, case studies and practicals.

Neurosciences

This course will look at a number of the major neural systems in detail, examining their structure and function.  Contemporary studies will provide much of the teaching material and a strong emphasis will be placed on the latest developments in each field. Subjects to be covered will include the visual system, the auditory system, motor pathways, attention mechanisms, eye movements and memory.

The Neuro-cognitive Basis of Negation

This course will cover what it means to understand negation, drawing on work in computational and neurobiological models of psychology, social cognition, and linguistics.  Its aim is to expose students to a body of highly interesting and provocative work on negation. We will discuss major lines of thought on the topic beginning with pioneering work in the 1960s and continuing to present day.  We will discuss behavioral studies, as well as those using tools of neuroscience such as EEG, MEG and fMRI

Free choice courses

Current Debates in Cognitive Neuroscience

This advanced course provides an opportunity for an in-depth study of a current issues and debates in the area of cognitive neuroscience.

Advanced Topics in Perception and Attention

This course is designed for students who already have a background in the study of perception and attention. This advanced course provides an opportunity for an in-depth study of current work in perception and attention, through seminars, readings and discussions.

Scientific Communication