Module PPP-3009:
Neuroaesthetics

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Awel Vaughan-Evans

Overall aims and purpose

This module will introduce students to the relatively new research field of neuroaesthetics. The module will focus on four main topics (Art, Music, Dance, and Literature), from both a cognitive neuroscience and an applied perspective. Each topic will be discussed for two weeks: The first week will focus on laboratory based studies investigating the impact of art/music/dance/literature on the general population, and will introduce students to online data-collection methods such as eyetracking, EEG, and fMRI. The second week will focus on applied research, and will outline different therapies currently used with specific populations. The aim of these lectures is to introduce students to different research methodologies and perspectives, and to highlight some of the key benefits and challenges of cross-disciplinary research.

In addition to the lectures, which will provide students with an overview of each topic, and will introduce different data-collection methods, students will attend weekly seminars. During these seminars, students will discuss and critically evaluate set research papers. The aim of these seminars is to develop students’ communication skills, and encourage students to evaluate and appreciate different research methodologies and perspectives.

Course content

  • Data collection methods including, but not limited to, eyetracking, EEG, fMRI
  • Research design and ethical considerations
  • Empirical evidence investigating the perception and processing of art, music, dance, and literature
  • Empirical evidence investigating the benefits and challenges of therapies implementing aspects of art, music, dance, and literature

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

Satisfactory C- to C+

Satisfactory presentation of knowledge about neuroaesthetics in a relatively clear manner, but with a few inaccuracies.

Satisfactory understanding of the advantages and disadvantages associated with cross-disciplinary research. Satisfactory use of evidence to support the points made.

Satisfactory oral presentation skills, demonstrating an understanding of the main elements of the subject area, but with very little critical thinking. Some of the paper’s main points were presented, and the ability to answer questions confidently was demonstrated.

Satisfactory development of critical arguments in written assignments, however the arguments presented lacked coherence. Satisfactory use of studies discussed in the seminars to support the points made, but very little evidence of additional reading.

Satisfactory presentation of interesting and relevant research questions, demonstrating some understanding of neuroaesthetics, and a satisfactory evaluation of the theoretical and practical applications of the field.

good

Good B- to B+

Good presentation of strong knowledge about neuroaesthetics in a clear, concise, and accurate manner.

Good understanding of the advantages and disadvantages associated with cross-disciplinary research. Good use of evidence to support the points made.

Good oral presentation skills, demonstrating relatively clear understanding, independent work, and critical thinking. The paper’s main points were communicated clearly and effectively, and the ability to answer questions confidently was demonstrated.

Good and logical development of critical arguments in written assignments, evidence of additional reading, and original interpretation. Good use of studies discussed in the seminars, as well as additional research, to support the points made.

Good presentation of interesting and relevant research questions, demonstrating a true understanding of neuroaesthetics, and a good evaluation of the theoretical and practical applications of the field.

threshold

Threshold D- to D+

Knowledge of key principles only. Many errors and weaknesses in terms of presentation and accuracy.

A little understanding of the advantages and disadvantages associated with cross-disciplinary research. Little use of evidence to support the points made.

Poor oral presentation skills, demonstrating a little knowledge of the main elements of the subject area. Some of the paper’s main points were presented, but there were many errors. The ability to answer some questions was demonstrated.

Arguments were presented in written assignments, but they did not flow, and there was no evidence of original interpretation nor critical thinking. Very little use of evidence to support the points made, and little evidence of additional reading.

Relatively interesting and relevant research questions were presented, but lacked a firm understanding of neuroaesthetics. No evaluation of the theoretical and practical applications of the field.

excellent

Excellent A- to A**

Excellent presentation of comprehensive knowledge about neuroaesthetics in a clear, concise, and accurate manner.

Excellent understanding of the advantages and disadvantages associated with cross-disciplinary research. Excellent use of evidence to support the points made.

Excellent oral presentation skills, demonstrating a clear understanding, independent work, and critical thinking. The paper’s main points were communicated clearly and effectively, and the ability to answer questions confidently was demonstrated.

Excellent and logical development of critical arguments in written assignments, evidence of additional reading, and original interpretation. Excellent use of studies discussed in the seminars, as well as additional research, to support the points made.

Excellent presentation of interesting and relevant research questions, demonstrating a true understanding of neuroaesthetics, and an excellent evaluation of the theoretical and practical applications of the field.

Learning outcomes

  1. Differentiate between, and appreciate the value of clinical and statistical significance

  2. Propose interesting and relevant research questions

  3. Critically evaluate current research in the field of neuroaesthetics

  4. Communicate the key points of a research paper effectively

  5. Understand some of the benefits and challenges of cross disciplinary research

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
CLASS PARTICIPATION Weekly homework (approx. 200 words)
  • Each week, students will be required to read set research papers before attending the seminar. Having read the papers, students will be required to complete a short handout (noting specific comments and/or questions about the research papers). These handouts must then be presented to the module organiser during the weekly seminars.
10
EXAM Oral presentation of a research paper (10 minutes)
  • Students will be asked to present an oral presentation of a set research paper in front of a group of students and the module organiser.
  • Duration: 8 minute presentations with 2 minutes of questions
30
Written assignment, including essay Critical analysis (1000 words)
  • Students will be required to write a critical analysis of a set research paper. This paper must not have been discussed in class, however students should use the points covered in the seminars to facilitate their writing.
30
Written assignment, including essay Research proposal (1500 words)
  • Students will be required to write a research proposal relating to one of the four main topics covered. The proposal must draw upon the existing literature, and contain sound theoretical and/or practical implications.
30

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Seminar

In week 7, students will complete their oral presentation assignment. Students will be expected to deliver their own presentations, and actively participate as audience members for their fellow students. Given that these presentations will replace the lecture and seminar in week 7, students are expected to attend approximately 3 hours of student presentations.

3
Lecture

The module organiser will present a lecture. The lecture will provide an overview of the week's topic, and will last for an hour.

There will be no lecture in week 11 (7) as the oral presentations will be scheduled for this week.

10
Private study

As this is a 20 credit module, students should spend 200 hours working on the module. 155 of these hours should be dedicated to private study.

Students should use this time to*:

  • Review lecture slides
  • Read weekly seminar papers
  • Complete weekly homeworks
  • Plan and complete their assignments (oral presentation; critical review; research proposal)
  • Develop a clear understanding of the module's content

*note that this list is not comprehensive

155
Seminar

Students will discuss and evaluate research papers in small groups. The module organiser will facilitate the discussion, but students should drive the session themselves. The seminar will last for two hours each week.

There will be no seminar in week 11 (7) as the oral presentations will be scheduled for this week.

In addition, the seminar sessions in weeks 5(1) & 16(12) will be drop-in sessions, held in the module organiser's office (Wheldon 015). These additional drop in sessions will allow students the opportunity to ask specific questions about the module and/or upcoming assignments.

The seminar session in week 12 will be a revision session. Students will not be required to discuss research papers during this seminar. Rather, they will have the opportunity to review specific topics, and/or ask questions about the research proposal assignment.

16
 

The module organiser will hold weekly 1-hour drop-in sessions in her office throughout the semester. Students may come to these sessions without making an appointment. In week 5(1) and 16(12), two additional hours of drop-ins will be held, in lieu of the scheduled seminars.

Students may ask questions about the module and/or assignments during these sessions, however they may not ask the module organiser to read over, nor provide feedback on a draft assignment. Students can bring an outline / essay plan to these sessions and ask for feedback.

16

Transferable skills

  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in oral form.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.

Resources

Resource implications for students

Students may need to be logged onto a Bangor University computer in order to retrieve the research papers.

Reading list

A reading list will be presented via Talis at the beginning of term. There is no core text book for this module.

Whilst the reading list is still being compiled, students may read the following paper to better understand the type of reading resources that will be available:

Obermeier, C., Menninghaus, W., von Koppenfels, M., Raettig, T., Schmidt-Kassow, M., Otterbein, S., & Kotz, A.S. (2013). Aesthetic and emotional effects of meter and rhyme in poetry. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00010

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: