Psychology 3485F-001

Research in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


An introduction to the design, administration, and interpretation of developmental cognitive neuroscience research. Students receive instruction in the formulation of developmental research questions and the choice of appropriate methods, and training in the analysis and interpretation of pediatric evoked response potential (ERP) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2800E, 2810, and one of Psychology 2040A/B,  2220A/B, 2221A/B, 2410A/B or Neuroscience 2000, plus registration in third or fourth year Honours Specialization in Psychology, Honours Specialization in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience or Honors Specialization in Neuroscience


Third or fourth year Psychology Majors and Psychology Special Students who receive 70% or higher in Psychology 2820E (or 60% or higher in Psychology 2800E and 2810), plus 60% or higher in one of Psychology 2040A/B, 2220A/B, 2221A/B, 2410A/B or Neuroscience 2000 also may enrol in this course.

4 lecture/laboratory hours, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


       Instructor:   Niki Hosseini-Kamkar                  

       Office and Phone Number:  WH 215             

       Office Hours: By appointment                      



       Teaching Assistant: TBA                              


       Office Hours:                                              



       Time and Location of Classes:  

Lectures: Tuesdays, 9:30 am –11:30 am, WH-36

Tutorials: Thursdays, 9:30 am –11:30 am, WH-20F

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Huettel, S. A., Song, A. W., & McCarthy, G. Functional Resonance Magnetic Imaging, 3rd Edition. Sunderland MA: Sinauer Associates.



The course provides an introduction to the design, administration, analysis, and interpretation of experiments in developmental cognitive neuroscience focusing in particular on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)—and their use with developing populations. The course combines lecture-style instruction on select topics with hands-on experience analyzing existing fMRI data.


After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:


Learning Outcome

Learning Activities


Knowledge and Understanding

Identify (I), describe (De), and explain (E) concepts related to paediatric neuroimaging.



Class discussion.


Group exercises.

Examination (IDeE)


Group presentation (DeE)


Class participation (IDeE)


Writing assignment (DeE)


Propose a falsifiable hypothesis about age-related change in brain activity. (Pr)


Learn and implement an analysis strategy for testing the hypothesis with fMRI data (Im).


Interpret results of an fMRI analysis (In).


Identify limitations of fMRI findings and their interpretation (Id).



Class discussion.


Group exercises.


Computer assignment.

Computer assignment (Im).


Writing assignment (Pr,Im,In,Id,Co,Di)


Examination (Co, Di,In,Id)


Group presentation (Pr,Im,In,Id,Co,Di,Ci)

Communicate (Co) ideas and research-based evidence orally and in writing.


Distinguish (Di) cognitive and neurophysiological explanations of behaviour


Participate in collaborative partnerships (Ci)









Note: You must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.


The Midterm exam will be mixed format MC and SA questions based on readings, lectures, and in-class discussions. Writing Assignment will be a 20-page write-up of an independent developmental fMRI research project. The Introduction of the Writing Assignment will be a 5- to 7-page document in which reviews extant literature, proposes a falsifiable hypothesis, and a design for testing the hypothesis via fMRI. This will form the first part of the final Writing Assignment. Group presentations are shared research presentations required of each research group in the class. The laboratory assignment will be an exercise in which students will be required to describe why each processing step is conducted and how it helps increase signal-to-noise ratio. In addition, students will be required to describe the basics of fMRI signal and measurement.

Students are entitled to be excused from the midterm exam for legitimate compassionate or medical reasons. In all cases, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor in a timely manner and to provide acceptable documentation to an Academic Counsellor in their home faculty to support a compassionate or medical claim or risk his/her claim being denied. Failure to do so will result in a grade of 0 for the MIDTERM. Students who provide necessary documentation will be given an opportunity to write a MAKE-UP examination. There will be one date and time for the MAKE-UP exam which will be determined after the MIDTERM exam date. The format of the MAKE-UP exam will be different than the format of the MIDTERM exam.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows Western's grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail




Tuesday, November 14: MIDTERM EXAMINATION 9:30am – 11:30am in WH 36

Wednesday, December 7: Term papers due on OWL.

Note: You must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Introduction to Research in DCN.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Formulating a research question; why fMRI?


Tuesday, September 26, 2017. Ethics & Pre-processing

Recommended reading: READING 2 (posted) or Chapter 8 from textbook


Tuesday, October 3, 2017. fMRI Signal & Measurement; Experimental Design.

Recommended reading: READING 1 (posted) or Chapter 9 from textbook

Additional reading (not for the faint of heart): Chapter 3 from textbook (not posted; AND please note, this is not required. The basics will be covered in class and that is all you will need to know).



Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - READING WEEK


Tuesday, October 17, 2017. Single-subject analysis: Introduction to General Linear Modeling

Recommended reading: READING 3 (posted) or Chapter 10, pp. 331 - 357


Tuesday, October 24, 2017. Spatial Normalization and Pediatric fMRI

Required reading: Burgund et al, 2002, NeuroImage


Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Group analysis: Second-level GLM


Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Review and Preparation for Midterm


Tuesday, November 14, 2017. MIDTERM EXAMINATION 9:30am – 11:30am in WH 36


Tuesday, November 21, 2017. Statistical thresholds; Age effects

Recommended reading: Chapter 10, pp. 357 - 369


Tuesday, November 28, 2017. In-class group presentations


Tuesday, December 5, 2017. In-class group presentations


Thursday, December 7, 2017. Feedback on group presentations


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.