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The core goal of this Master's track can be captured by the questions: How does the brain mediate cognitive processes? How can we measure and quantify this? And: how can we utilize this knowledge to help people with brain disorders and cognitive impairments? This question is especially relevant in view of the huge and ever rising costs of brain disorders (386 billion Euro's in Europe, 2004). In addition to studying neural mechanisms underlying cognition, we will expand practical and technical knowledge on how to analyse neural data (e.g. spike data, EEG, MRI); exact quantification methods are vital to establish relationships between cell and network activity to cognition and behaviour. Students will learn how healthy brain function goes awry in psychiatric disorders, and how neurophysiological and brain-imaging studies can yield tools used in the clinic, such as deep-brain stimulation techniques and imaging of brain fiber tracts.

This track departs from a well-established basis in Neuroscience, supplemented with knowledge about behavioural and cognitive neuroscience. The focus of this track lies, first, in the challenge to connect different aggregate levels at which brain function can be studied: from single neurons, via circuits and networks, to behaviour and cognition. Second, we focus on brain disorders: how are their symptoms manifested neurophysiologically, and which techniques can be used for treatment. These connections will be studied by relating single-neuron operations to activity at the mesoscopic level (e.g. electroencephalography, EEG) and behaviour.

Programme outline

This track starts off with the course Advanced Cognitive Neurobiology and Clinical Neurophysiology (12 EC), bringing you up to speed on the main themes and methods in these fields. This course is followed by a more specialised, in-depth course, concerning network models and neuronal correlates of consciousness (Neural Models, Representations and Consciousness, 6 EC). The course on data analysis (MATLAB Applied to Neuronal Data, 6 EC) is an elective. Overall, students following this track will specialise themselves in expertise linking cellular, systems and cognitive processes and will learn to translate their knowledge into innovative applications such as brain-machine interfaces and other tools for clinical neurophysiology.

Besides course-based training, you will write a Master’s thesis (12 EC), and you will be involved in experimental work during course workshops and research projects. You will actively participate in discussions, and can attend special lectures and a Neuroscience Summer School. In the second year you can choose to take on Elective courses from the other tracks in Cellular and Network Neuroscience or Psychopharmacology and Pathophysiology, or from other Master programmes related to Brain, Cognition and Clinical Neuroscience. Options are available to do an extended research project or conduct a project abroad.

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