Attention and Performance
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleSOW-DGCN45
Credits (ECTS)6
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Social Sciences; Cognitive Neuroscience;
PreviousNext 1
prof. dr. F.P. de Lange
Other course modules lecturer
dr. E.G.G. Maris
Other course modules lecturer
dr. M.V. Peelen
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
prof. dr. A.P.A. Roelofs
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. A.P.A. Roelofs
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2018
SEM1  (03/09/2018 to 03/02/2019)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-

This course will provide students with a state-of-the-art introduction to sensorimotor task performance and the role of attention in this process. This is achieved by explaining how perception, action, and attention mechanisms characterized at a functional level are linked to brain activity, neural circuits, and genetic variation, and how these mechanisms are engaged in sensorimotor task performance. At the end of the course, students will be able to (1) describe key empirical findings in the cognitive neuroscience of attention and performance, (2) analyze and compare current theories of attention and performance, and (3) evaluate the theories in the light of the key findings or new predictions.


Neurobiological aspects. The course will provide a detailed overview of the neurobiological basis of the hierarchically organized human sensorimotor and attentional systems, including ventral and dorsal streams for perception and action, the cortical and subcortical structures underlying alerting, orienting, and the executive control of perceptually guided action, corresponding neurotransmitter systems, and attention-related genes.

Functional aspects. We will address key aspects of sensorimotor task performance and their relation to the attentional functions of alerting, orienting, and executive control; the executive functions of updating/monitoring, inhibiting/enhancing, and shifting; ventral and dorsal streams for perception and action; internal forward and inverse models; performing Stroop-like tasks, task switching, and dual-task performance; perception-action coupling, ideomotor theory and mirror neurons; attention and automaticity; errors and performance monitoring; attention and consciousness.

Theoretical/quantitative aspects. Part of the course will address the computational and mathematical modeling of sensorimotor task performance and the role of attention. We will emphasize analysis of performance distributions rather than mean performance measures.

Additional aspects. We will discuss evidence from response times and their distributions, performance errors, eye-tracking, lesion-deficit analysis, animal neurophysiology, and human imaging (EEG, MEG, fMRI, TMS, and genetic imaging). Where relevant, implications of theories, models, and empirical findings for applied and clinical research issues will be discussed.

Required materials
Course material
Lecture notes
Syllabus containing relevant articles from top-quality journals

Recommended materials
Gold, J. I., & Shadlen, M. N. (2007). The neural basis of decision making. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 30, 535-574.
Monsell, S., & Driver, J. (Eds.) (2000). Control of Cognitive Processes: Attention and Performance XVIII. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Posner, M. I. (Ed.) (2012). Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention (Second Edition). The Guilford Press: New York.
Desimone, R., & Duncan, J. (1995). Neural mechanisms of selective visual attention. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 18,193-222.
Nobre, K., & Kastner, S. (Eds.) (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Attention. Oxford, UK: Oxford Univerisity Press.

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Attendance MandatoryYes

Student assignments
Attendance MandatoryYes

Closed book exam
Test weight1
Test typeExam
OpportunitiesBlock SEM1, Block SEM2

NOTE: enrollment for a course automatically registers you for its exam.