Psychology 3485F 001 FW23

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.



LONDON               CANADA 

Department of Psychology 

Fall 2023 


Psychology 3485F    Section 1 

Research in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 





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.  



Prerequisite(s): Both Psychology 2801F/G and Psychology 2811A/B, or both the former Psychology 2800E and the former Psychology 2810, and one of Psychology 2040A/B, Psychology 2410A/B, Psychology 2220A/B, Psychology 2221A/B, or Neuroscience 2000, PLUS registration in third or fourth year Honours Specialization in Psychology, Honours Specialization in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience or, Honours Specialization in Neuroscience. Third or fourth year Psychology Majors and Psychology Special Students who receive 70% or higher in both Psychology 2801F/G and Psychology 2811A/B, or 70% or higher in the former Psychology 2820E (or 60% or higher in the former Psychology 2800E and the former Psychology 2810), plus 60% or higher in one of Psychology 2040A/B, Psychology 2410A/B, Psychology 2220A/B, Psychology 2221A/B, or Neuroscience 2000 also may enrol in this course. 






2 lecture hours and 2 laboratory hours. 





Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol 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: J Bruce Morton  

Office and Phone Number: WIRB 5178  

Office Hours: By appointment  



Teaching Assistant:  


Office Hours:  



Time and Location of Classes: Available on Student Center

Delivery Method: In-person 


Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Health and Wellness @Western for a complete list of options about how to obtain help. 


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 contact Accessible Education at  or 519-661-2147. 


2.1 Online Learning Notice: 
Please note: For courses delivered in an online format, include an online component, or are required to pivot online, students must have a reliable internet connection and computer that are compatible with online learning system requirements. Some courses may also require the use of a remote proctoring platform to ensure assessments are taken fairly in accordance with Western’s policy on Scholastic Discipline for Undergraduate Students and Scholastic Discipline for Graduate Students. Please refer to the course syllabus for further information. 



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) 


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) 



Class discussion. 


Group exercises. 




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


Examination (Co, Di,In,Id) 


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













The Midterm exam will be mixed format MC and SA questions based on readings, lectures, and in-class discussions. Writing Assignment will be a 15-page write-up (~ 3750 words) of an independent developmental fMRI research project. The Introduction of the Writing Assignment will be a 3- to 5-page (~ 750 to 1250 words) document in which reviews extant literature, proposes a falsifiable hypothesis, and a design for testing the hypothesis via fMRI. This Introduction will form the first part of the final Writing Assignment, which includes separate Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections. Group presentations are shared research presentations required of each research group in the class. The computer assignment will be an exercise in MATLAB in which students need to open a data set and view data using figures and plots. 




Students who are unable to attend the MIDTERM examination are required to either declare a self-reported absence or to provide adequate documentation to the Academic Counseling Office in the student’s home faculty. Failure to do so will result in a grade of 0 for the MIDTERM. Students with an approved accommodation 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.  


PLEASE NOTE: Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations, you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%. 


This course is exempt from the Senate requirement that students receive assessment of their work accounting for at least 15% of their final grade at least three full days before the date of the deadline for withdrawal from a course without academic penalty. 


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% 2100-2990 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 



Policy on Grade Rounding: Please note that although course grades within the Psychology Department are rounded to the nearest whole number, no further grade rounding will be done. No additional assignments will be offered to enhance a final grade; nor will requests to change a grade because it is needed for a future program be considered. To maximize your grade, do your best on each and every assessment within the course. 






Tuesday, October 25: MIDTERM EXAM  







Tuesday, September 12. Introduction to Research in DCN. Formulating a research question 

Tuesday, September 19. fMRI Signal & Measurement; Experimental Design; Intro to MATLAB; Computer assignment assigned. 

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

Recommended 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, September 26. Ethics & Pre-processing 

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


Tuesday, October 3. Single-subject analysis: Introduction to General Linear Modeling 

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


Tuesday, October 10. Spatial Normalization and Pediatric fMRI; Group analysis & Second-level GLM 

Required reading: Burgund et al, 2002, NeuroImage. Find in Resources folder on OWL 


Tuesday, October 17. Statistical thresholds 

Required reading: Chapter 10, pp. 357 - 369 


Tuesday, October 24. MIDTERM EXAM 


Tuesday, October 31. READING WEEK 

Tuesday, November 7. Group work on fMRI analysis 

Required reading: Wilk, H. A., & Morton, J. B.(2012). Developmental changes in patterns of brain activity associated with moment-to-moment adjustments in control. NeuroImage, 63(1), 475-484. 


Thursday, November 9. Group work on fMRI analysis 

Tuesday, November 14. Group work on fMRI analysis 

Thursday, November 16. Group work on fMRI analysis 

Tuesday, November 21: In-class group presentations. 

Thursday, November 23: In-class group presentations. 

Tuesday, November 28: Feedback on group presentations. 







We acknowledge that Western University is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Attawandaron peoples, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. 


With this, we respect the longstanding relationships that Indigenous Nations have to this land, as they are the original caretakers. We acknowledge historical and ongoing injustices that Indigenous Peoples (e.g. First Nations, Métis and Inuit) endure in Canada, and we accept responsibility as a public institution to contribute toward revealing and correcting miseducation, as well as renewing respectful relationships with Indigenous communities through our teaching, research and community service. 





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


As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offences. 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 ( 


Computer-marked multiple-choice tests and/or exams will be subject to submission for similarity review by software that will check for unusual coincidences in answer patterns that may indicate cheating. 


In classes that involve the use of a personal response system (PRS), data collected using the PRS will only be used in a manner consistent to that described in this outline. It is the instructor’s responsibility to make every effort to ensure that data remain confidential. However, students should be aware that as with all forms of electronic communication, privacy is not guaranteed. Your PRS login credentials are for your sole use only. Students attempting to use another student’s credentials to submit data through the PRS may be subject to academic misconduct proceedings.  


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



Tests and examinations for online courses will be conducted using a remote proctoring service. By taking this course, you are consenting to the use of this software and acknowledge that you will be required to provide personal information (including some biometric data) and the session will be recorded.  Completion of this course will require you to have a reliable internet connection and a device that meets the technical requirements for this service. More information about this remote proctoring service, including technical requirements, is available on Western’s Remote Proctoring website at: 

In the event that in-person exams are unexpectedly canceled, you may only be given notice of the use of a proctoring service a short time in advance. 




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


If you experience an extenuating circumstance (e.g., illness, injury) sufficiently significant to temporarily make you unable to meet academic requirements, you may request accommodation through the following routes:  

  1. For medical absences, submitting a Student Medical Certificate (SMC) signed by a licensed medical or mental health practitioner in order to be eligible for Academic Consideration;  
  1. For non-medical absences, submitting appropriate documentation (e.g., obituary, police report, accident report, court order, etc.) to Academic Counselling in their Faculty of registration in order to be eligible for academic consideration. Students are encouraged to contact their Academic Counselling unit to clarify what documentation is appropriate. 


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


Students seeking academic consideration: 

  • are advised to consider carefully the implications of postponing tests or midterm exams or delaying handing in work;   
  • must communicate with their instructors no later than 24 hours after the end of the period covered SMC, or immediately upon their return following a documented absence 


Students seeking accommodation for religious purposes are advised to contact Academic Counselling at least three weeks prior to the religious event and as soon as possible after the start of the term. 




In the event of a COVID-19 resurgence or any other event that necessitates the course delivery moving away from face-to-face interaction, all remaining course content will be delivered entirely online, either synchronously (i.e., at the times indicated in the timetable) or asynchronously (e.g., posted on OWL for students to view at their convenience). The grading scheme will not change. Any remaining assessments will also be conducted online, as determined by the course instructor. 




In courses involving online interactions, the Psychology Department expects students to honour the following rules of etiquette: 

  • please “arrive” to class on time 
  • please use your computer and/or laptop if possible (as opposed to a cell phone or tablet) 
  • please ensure that you are in a private location to protect the confidentiality of discussions in the event that a class discussion deals with sensitive or personal material 
  • to minimize background noise, kindly mute your microphone for the entire class until you are invited to speak, unless directed otherwise 
  • In classes larger than 30 participants please turn off your video camera for the entire class unless you are invited to speak 
  • In classes of 30 students or fewer, where video chat procedures are being used, please be prepared to turn your video camera off at the instructor’s request if the internet connection becomes unstable 
  • Unless invited by your instructor, do not share your screen in the meeting 


The course instructor will act as moderator for the class and will deal with any questions from participants. To participate please consider the following: 

  • If you wish to speak, use the “raise hand” function and wait for the instructor to acknowledge you before beginning your comment or question. 
  • Please remember to unmute your microphone and turn on your video camera before speaking. 
  • Self-identify when speaking. 
  • Please remember to mute your mic and turn off your video camera after speaking (unless directed otherwise). 


General considerations of “netiquette”: 

  • Keep in mind the different cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the students in the course. 
  • Be courteous toward the instructor, your colleagues, and authors whose work you are discussing. 
  • Be respectful of the diversity of viewpoints that you will encounter in the class and in your readings. The exchange of diverse ideas and opinions is part of the scholarly environment. “Flaming” is never appropriate. 
  • Be professional and scholarly in all online postings. Use proper grammar and spelling. Cite the ideas of others appropriately. 


Note that disruptive behaviour of any type during online classes, including inappropriate use of the chat function, is unacceptable. Students found guilty of Zoom-bombing a class or of other serious online offenses may be subject to disciplinary measures under the Code of Student Conduct. 




Office of the Registrar:   


Student Development Services:  


Psychology Undergraduate Program: 


If you wish to appeal a grade, please read the policy documentation at: 

Please first contact the course instructor. If your issue is not resolved, you may make your appeal to the Undergraduate Chair in Psychology ( 


Copyright Statement: Lectures and course materials, including power point presentations, outlines, videos and similar materials, are protected by copyright. You may take notes and make copies of course materials for your own educational use. You may not record lectures, reproduce (or allow others to reproduce), post or distribute any course materials publicly and/or for commercial purposes without the instructor’s written consent. 


Policy on the Recording of Synchronous Sessions: Some or all of the remote learning sessions for this course (if scheduled) may be recorded. The data captured during these recordings may include your image, voice recordings, chat logs and personal identifiers (name displayed on the screen). The recordings will be used for educational purposes related to this course, including evaluations. The recordings may be disclosed to other individuals participating in the course for their private or group study purposes. Please contact the instructor if you have any concerns related to session recordings. Participants in this course are not permitted to privately record the sessions, except where recording is an approved accommodation, or the student has the prior written permission of the instructor.