Are you fascinated by the brain functions that make us see, hear, move, feel and think the way we do? Are you eager to gain the knowledge and skills needed to flexibly apply the most advanced brain imaging and brain stimulation techniques in fundamental, applied or clinical research settings? Then Cognitive Neuroscience is the right choice for you! This highly multidisciplinary programme is embedded in the M-BIC (Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre) and provides you with the theoretical background and hands-on research skills necessary for becoming a versatile brain researcher. Cognitive Neuroscience is an ideal choice for those who aim for an academic or related career focused on understanding normal and/or abnormal brain function.
Why this programme?
In the Cognitive Neuroscience specialisation you acquire a unique combination of in-depth knowledge on human brain function, perception and cognition, paralleled with an extensive and hands-on training for using the most advanced non-invasive brain imaging (including fMRI, fNIRS, DWI, EEG/MEG) and brain stimulation (TMS, tDCS) techniques. The obtained knowledge and skills provide an excellent background to flexibly apply these techniques in fundamental as well as applied and clinical research settings.
This teaching programme covers relevant topics of Cognitive Neuroscience and reflects the research expertise of the ‘Cognitive Neuroscience’ group at the Maastricht Brain Imaging Center (M-BIC). By addressing key issues in perceptual and cognitive brain research, you will build a detailed understanding of how the ‘working’ brain perceives, feels, moves, learns and creates a conscious mind. Specific course topics include auditory and visual perception, attention, language, sensorimotor functions, learning and memory as well as brain connectivity and connectomics and neuroimaging in disorders of consciousness.
Moreover, you learn to translate this knowledge in empirical research by extensive hands-on training in all aspects of the experimental cycle, including experimental design, recording and manipulating brain activation, and advanced data analysis. Methods that you will learn to apply include (f)MRI, fNIRS, DWI, TMS, tDCS, EEG/MEG as well as data analysis in Matlab, EEGLAB, Brainvoyager and Turbo-BrainVoyager (neurofeedback).
Thanks to the local research infrastructure as well as an exceptionally rich international network, you have ample opportunities for internships in cognitive neuroscience and related fields in our center and at top universities throughout the world (including Cambridge, Harvard, NIH, Stanford, University College London). Internship research topics range from fundamental brain research (e.g. neural basis of perceptual learning, layer-specific attention effects in visual cortex at 7T fMRI) and applications of advanced neuroimaging methods (e.g. brain-computer interfaces, multi-modal imaging) to clinical research (e.g. tDCS-based alleviation of phantom pain, neurofeedback training in Parkinson patients). We will help you find a topic and location that best fit your own interests and career goals. Curious about the kinds of projects students have conducted?
Teaching staff and research environment
The Cognitive Neurosicence teaching staff consists of an international and multidisciplinary team of researchers including psychologists, biologists, physicians, engineers, physicists, and computer scientists affiliated to the M-BIC and Department of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.
The M-BIC offers a unique research infrastructure with (ultra) high field imaging facilities (3T, 7T) and one of only five 9.4T systems worldwide, as well as fully equipped EEG, fNIRS and TMS/tDCS laboratories. Research is organized around perceptual, cognitive and methodological themes as described on the M-BIC website. Examples of applied/clinical research projects include fMRI-based neurofeedback therapy (e.g. depression, spider phobia), brain-based communication in locked-in patients, TMS/tDCS-guided brain recovery after stroke or brain injury, brain-based assessment of dyslexia intervention, tinnitus remediation and hearing-aid applications.
Courses & curriculum
The curriculum of the Research Master in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience is divided into two parts.
The first part focuses on a set of modules offering theoretical and practical research training, and covers the first year as well as the first eight weeks of the second year (for detailed module descriptions please scroll down). In each specialisation, you will participate in domain-specific intensive core courses covering important theories, models, and analytic approaches. Depending on the specialisation you choose, the courses will cover genetic, environmental, affective, cognitive and neurobiological processes underlying the human mind and behaviour, in health or disease. In addition, you will take advanced statistics courses and practical workshops that will allow you to develop your proficiency in general skills like data analysis, scientific writing, and data acquisition with methods and techniques specific for your chosen field.
The second part of the curriculum, occupying most of the second year, focuses on an internship in which data are collected that form the basis for your research master thesis. In the specialisations Psychopathology and Neuropsychology, you have the option to do an additional clinical internship, which also entails a smaller research project and minor thesis. Once enrolled in the Research Master, you will receive timely and detailed information on how to choose a thesis topic, how to approach potential supervisors, and how to choose a good host for the local or (inter)national internship. The curriculum as a whole corresponds to 120 European credit points.
You will be able to tailor some aspects of the curriculum to your specific interests, for example by choosing an elective outside the required curriculum of your specialisation. There are three types of electives: attending regular modules of another specialisation, writing a review paper, or assisting in an ongoing research project. In addition, to foster a better understanding and appreciation of the rich interdisciplinary connections linking cognitive and clinical neuroscience, the curriculum also includes a colloquium series, with interactive lectures by UM faculty as well as visiting national and international speakers. The research grant writing component of the curriculum entails a workshop at the end of year one and a core module at the beginning of year two, during which small groups of students from different specialisations work together to formulate an interdisciplinary research proposal. This primes you to think concretely about all aspects of doing research, which is an excellent preparation for the internship and thesis that follow.
See website www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/fpn/researchmaster