PSYCH 721 : Consciousness and Cognition


2023 Semester Two (1235) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Discusses recent research on consciousness from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience. Topics covered may include: implicit learning, implicit memory, blindsight, the split-brain syndrome, amnesia and hemineglect.

Course Overview

This course introduces students to the very latest developments in the fascinating field of consciousness research. Consciousness is discussed from multiple perspectives, drawing from work in basic and clinical neuroscience, experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience and philosophy. Topics examined in the course may include: philosophical analyses of consciousness; neural and computational models of consciousness; neural correlates of mindfulness meditation; blindsight; unilateral neglect; sleep and dreaming; unconscious thought theory; memory repression; and use of brain-computer interfaces for improving diagnosis of, and communication with, patients suffering from disorders of consciousness, such as coma, vegetative state and locked-in syndrome. The course is taught via a mixture of lectures and student-led seminars. In-class discussion is encouraged throughout the course.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe contemporary approaches to studying the relationship between visual processing and consciousness. This will include studies of (1) visual functioning in neurologically normal individuals, (2) visual functioning in neurological patients who have sustained damage to specific brain regions and pathways, (3) evidence gained from neuroimaging studies of the neural correlates of conscious and unconscious visual processing. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Describe contemporary approaches to memory control and emotion regulation, including studies of motivated forgetting. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  3. Explain the global neuronal workspace model of consciousness. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Describe the relationship between sleep and cognitive-emotional psychological functions. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  5. Evaluate evidence and theory concerning the role of unconscious processes in complex decision-making. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  6. Describe contemporary evidence and theory concerning the neural correlates of mindfulness meditation. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  7. Describe contemporary evidence and theory concerning the neural correlates of mind-wandering. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  8. Discuss and analyse the implications of recent research in cognitive neuroscience for the notion of "free will", and conceptions of legal responsibility. (Capability 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 40% Individual Coursework
Presentation 10% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Final Exam
  • Essay (25 marks). Essays should be 3,000 - 3,500 words long.
  • Research critique (15 marks). This involves writing a critical review of a published paper reporting research findings relevant to the field of consciousness and cognition. Your review should be about 1000-1500 words long.  


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

This course is supported by the Tuākana in Science Programme, which facilitates the success and wellbeing of our Māori and Pacific students. The foundation of the Tuākana Programme is the Tuākana-Teina principle an integral relationship in which older or more expert Tuākana (traditionally brother, sister or cousin) guides a younger or less expert Teina (traditionally younger sibling or cousin). This is a reciprocal relationship which fosters safe learning and teaching environments. Read more here:

Key Topics

  • Dual stream models of vision
  • Philosophical perspectives on consciousness
  • Consciousness and the predictive brain
  • Transient blindness – failures of visual consciousness (Inattentional blindness, change blindness & surprise-induced blindness)
  • Pupillometry
  • Memory control, suppression and emotion regulation.
  • Neural correlates of consciousness
  • Sleep
  • Blindsight & Neglect
  • Unconscious thinking effects: Reality or myth?
  • Mindfulness & mind wandering
  • Cognitive neuroscience and free will

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in. For each week of this course, you can expect 2 hours of seminar class, 4 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 4 hours of work on assignments and/or preparation for the final examination.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

  • Attendance is required at weekly seminar sessions.
  • Seminar presentations and discussions will be available as recordings, subject to the agreement of the students involved in presentations and seminar discussions.
  • Attendance on campus will be required for the exam.
  • The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable. 

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Learning resources for this course will be made available via Canvas.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Several changes are planned in response to student feedback:
1. Increasing the number of lecturer-led seminars during the first half of semester.
2.  New content: mental imagery; broader coverage of theoretical treatments.
3. Increased guidance for students wrt preparing for and delivering seminars.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 01/11/2022 09:36 a.m.