Neuro-Cognitive Psychology

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Neuro-Cognitive Psychology

Since its establishment as a scientific discipline, Psychology has been concerned with the explanation and prediction of normal and disordered human behavior and experience. Over the past two decades, basic issues (e.g., how does memory work?) have been approached increasingly not only using the methods and concepts of experimental psychology, but also those of the neurosciences. For example, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allows for the “observation” of brain processes involved in specific psychological operations (e.g., a search in memory). As a consequence of these developments, an innovative, interdisciplinary research and educational field has emerged, which, depending on the point of focus, has been termed "Cognitive Neuroscience" or "Neuro-Cognitive Psychology".

Special Features of the NCP study program

The Neuro-cognitive Psychology program

  • is an English-language study program designed for a selected group of outstanding students.
  • is taught by leading scientists in their fields, both at the University of Munich (home institution) and at national and international (European) partner institutions.
  • has a major focus on attentional and executive control of vision and action. 
  • is interdisciplinary in focus, integrating state-of-the-art theoretical and methodological approaches of Experimental Psychology and the Cognitive Neurosciences (Neurobiology, Neurology, Neuropsychology, Neuropsychiatry).
  • is research-oriented, providing advanced training in basic-science Neuro-Cognitive Psychology as well as its applications in the emergent fields of Neuro-Cognitive Diagnostics and Ergonomics.
  • consists of intensive, small-group and individual teaching, using both traditional and innovative methods (e.g., debating club seminar).
  • provides individual supervision and advising through a personal mentor system.
  • awards successful students with an international Master’s degree, which qualifies the holder for professional work in cutting-edge scientific and applied (e.g., health and industrial) settings.
  • is an integral part of the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences LMU Munich (GSN-LMU), preparing students for a career in research (Ph.D. program).

Program Goals

  • The course is designed to provide an advanced, research-oriented study program in Neuro-Cognitive Psychology (NCP), an emerging field at the intersection of Experimental Psychology and the Cognitive Neurosciences.
  • The course has two interrelated foci, one basic and one applied. The first focus is on basic-science Neuro-Cognitive Psychology theories and methods, and the second on the application of Neuro-Cognitive Psychology in selected fields, e.g., experimentally based diagnostics of neuro-cognitive disorders and human-factors engineering.

Study Program M.Sc. in Neuro-Cognitive Psychology

The main goal of the Neuro-Cognitive Psychology (NCP) program is to provide a selected group of students, to be recruited from around the world, with a state-of-the-art education in this brain research-oriented discipline of psychology. In terms of its emphasis on basic science, as well as its desired level of achievement, the NCP course of study is competitive with similar international study programs. What sets the NCP program apart from these, however, is its experimental-psychological focus within the field of brain research and that it offers an applied focus beyond the relaying of basic-science knowledge.
The aim in the first two semesters is to relay state-of-the-art basic-science knowledge within an optimally structured curriculum. Subsequently, the second stage of study provides students with the opportunity to extend and deepen their knowledge within individual, basic science and applied research, areas of specialization.

Integration of Basic and Applied Fields

In addition to the basic-science focus, which prepares students for a career in research (e.g., a Ph.D. program), the program provides students with the opportunity to choose an innovative applied subject field. One of these is “Experimentally-based Diagnostics of basic neuro-cognitive functions” (attention, working memory, etc.) in normal individuals and neurological and psychiatric patients. Progress is to be expected in this field, where previously employed instruments of diagnosis will be replaced by more powerful, neuro-scientifically conceived procedures (e.g. fMRI) over the next few years. Another applied field is that of “Neuro-Cognitive Ergonomics”, which is concerned with neuro-cognitive processing capabilities and limitations in complex human-machine interactions (“Human-Factors Engineering”).

Teaching Network

The NCP program is conceived as an interdisciplinary study program, with course offerings from the brain research-oriented sub-disciplines of Psychology (general and experimental, biological, neuro-, and developmental psychology) as well as from Medicine (neuroanatomy and -physiology, neuropsychiatry, neurology). In addition to the Department of Psychology of the LMU, courses in Munich will be offered by instructors from TUM Psychiatry. In addition, leading international researchers from European universities will also take an active cooperative role within the program (e.g., providing places for laboratory internships outside of Germany).

Organizational Background

  • The program is supported by the German Federal State of Bavaria as part of the academic "Elite Network Bavaria".
  • The program is organized by Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich (Department of Psychology).
  • As an "elite" study program, the course is directed at a select group of highly able and motivated students, and is taught by leading scientists in their fields of expertise, within a structure of small-group (including one-to-one) instruction and advising.
  • Within this "elite" framework, the traditional German semester structure has been replaced by course components that progress continuously, enabling a shorter period of intense study. Students undertake two years of individually supervised course work, comprising of lectures, tutorials, seminars, methods courses, colloquia, independent research projects (laboratory rotations), and the Master thesis. For more detailed information see Curriculum.

Ph.D. in Systemic Neurosciences

NCP is part of the "Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences" and is conceived as a research-oriented Master program, with the opportunity for further graduate (Ph.D.) studies, leading to the award of a "Ph.D. in Systemic Neurosciences". Although admission to the Graduate School is dependent on a competitive selection process, especially qualified graduates of the NCP program will have a competitive advantage in this process (the NCP program offers a privileged access route to the school).