PSY4317 – Hemispheric asymmetry and cognition

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Course content

The left and right cerebral hemispheres differ in their information processing abilities. Some cognitive functions, like speech and language processing, are predominately relying on temporal and frontal regions of the left hemisphere, while others, e.g. spatial processing and face recognition, are considered right-hemispheric functions. In this, these so-called functional brain asymmetries represent a fundamental characteristic of brain organisation and theories of human cognition can only be complete when acknowledging these processing differences between the hemispheres. The present course provides an overview to classical findings as well as an introduction to modern approaches to studying functional brain asymmetries. The seminar will cover inter-individual differences in brain asymmetry in healthy and clinical populations, address intra-individual changes across the lifespan, and discuss evolutionary origins of asymmetry. Also, the role of the interaction between the hemisphere via the corpus callosum for establishing and maintaining hemispheric asymmetries will be discussed. Across all topics, the course connects phenomena of hemispheric asymmetry with concept widely used in cognitive psychology (e.g., working memory, attention) with the aim to establish an integrated cognitive neuroscience perspective on hemispheric differences.

Learning outcome

Learning outcome:

The students will

  1. acquire a fundamental understanding of theories and methods in brain asymmetry research, and will
  2. learn to apply this knowledge to critically evaluate recent publications in the field.
  3. Finally, the students will acquire the ability to discuss phenomena of hemispheric specialisation in context concepts of cognitive psychology (and vice versa)


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Formal prerequisite knowledge

Admission to masterprogram in Cognitive Neuroscience 


8 seminars of 2h each.


Individual home exam (essay)

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Use of sources and citation

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Explanations and appeals

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Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

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