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Higher cognitive functions, 7.5 Credits

Swedish name: Högre kognitiva funktioner

This syllabus is valid: 2023-08-21 and until further notice

Course code: 2PS089

Credit points: 7.5

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Psychology: Second cycle, in-depth level of the course cannot be classified
Cognitive Science: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: Three-grade scale

Responsible department: Department of Psychology

Revised by: Head of Department of Psychology, 2022-10-07


The course will present central theoretical and empirical issues related to higher cognitive functions with a focus on cognitive control functions. These control functions, often referred to as executive functions, are assumed to mediate goal-directed behaviour and to control and coordinate lower level cognitive processes. Executive control functions are central to most higher mental activities, that involve planning, execution, and evaluation of behaviours and they are closely tied to the construct of intelligence. A variety of neuropsychiatric disorders are associated with impairments and deficits in these functions.

The course will also examine some of the relations between different forms of higher cognitive functions and emotional control functions and their underlying neural mechanisms. The course will also deal with individual and developmental differences in executive control functions.

Expected learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
Upon completion the course, the students are expected to show a deeper understanding of:

  • executive functions and their relation to higher cognition.
  • construct validity and measurement problems within the research area
  • emotional control functions and the interaction between emotion and cognition - current research issues in the area

Skill and ability
Upon completion of the course, the students are expected to show ability to:

  • retrieve and present, orally and in writing, an individual review of research in the area

Evaluation ability and approach
Upon completion of the course, the student is expected to show the ability to

  • critically interpret and discuss research findings within the area


Required Knowledge

Univ: Admitted to the Master's programme in Cognitive Science or 90 ECTS in any subject
whereof at least 15 ECTS in cognition. Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish Upper
Secondary course English B/6.

Form of instruction

Teaching will be based on seminars and lectures.

Examination modes

Examination is based on active participation in seminars, and an individual paper that is presented at the final seminar. For the paper the grades failed, passed and passed with
distinction will be used. A student who has failed twice on an examination can request from the Board of Under-graduate Studies in Psychology that another teacher is appointed to grade the project work. The student is entitled 5 examinations within two years after the first registration occasion. To pass the entire course all tests and compulsory parts must have been passed. The grade is an integrated judgement of the results from all examination parts, and is given when all parts have been passed.

Academic credit transfer
Crediting will be tested on an individual basis. The application should be sent by the student to the university registry (Registrator, Umeå universitet, 901 87 Umeå) that will provide a registration number. The application will thereafter be sent to the responsible department. The responsible Study Director will decide on credit transfer or a course/course part. Confirmed copies of course certificate or corresponding certificate should be included, in which information about education establishment, date, subject area, level and number of credits is provided. In addition, the application should include the course syllabus and literature list for the course/course part, and, when appropriate, a copy of the project report.


Valid from: 2023 week 34