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PSYC432 Special Topic: Social and Affective Neuroscience

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Exploration of methodological, empirical and theoretical issues in the brain bases of social cognition and emotion with a strong focus on modern human neuroscience.

Paper title Special Topic: Social and Affective Neuroscience
Paper code PSYC432
Subject Psychology
EFTS 0.0833
Points 10 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $673.90
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,981.97

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This paper is available to 400-level Psychology and Neuroscience majors. Students from other universities must show evidence of an equivalent level of competence.


Dr Narun Pat,

Teaching staff

Lecturer: Dr Narun Pat

Paper Structure

This is an advanced seminar on the brain bases of socio-emotion. Social and emotional factors can influence the things we do and the decisions we make. Moreover, abnormalities in social and emotional processes are often seen in psychopathologies. We will take a modern neuroscience perspective to understand social and emotional processes. The class will first build fundamental skills and knowledge in the methodologies of social and affective neuroscience. This will be done mainly by lecturing, reading and discussing research articles. Each week, students will read, present and discuss empirical and review articles germane to understanding how the brain enables us to process social and emotional information. We will mainly survey human neuroscience literatures across various topics and methodologies but will include some animal neuroscience literatures. Toward the end of the semester, students will write and present a research proposal.

Teaching Arrangements

Dr Narun Pat is the lecturer for the course and will lead and/or facilitate discussions, provide information relevant to the methods used in the research covered, and will guide students to facilitate understanding of materials/methods/findings covered in the course.


Textbooks are not required for this paper.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

In-depth knowledge, Scholarship, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Research, Global perspective, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation, Teamwork

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to explore various methodologies used in social and affective neuroscience. Interdisciplinary in nature, these methodologies include, but are not limited to: functional magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography, mathematical/computational modelling, psychophysiology, genomics, animal electrophysiology, Big Data analysis, meta-analysis among others. The training in contemporary methodologies will equip students with skills to acquire new knowledge in a rapidly developing scientific field. [In-depth knowledge, Scholarship, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Research]
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to further knowledge of the neurobiological underpinnings of social-emotional processes. Given that social and affective neuroscience is rooted in multiple disciplines, students will be exposed to principles and concepts from many diverse areas of psychology (social, clinical and cognitive), economics (behavioural economics), biology (system neuroscience, behavioural and cognitive neuroscience and genomics) and medicine (psychiatry and neurology). Many of the topics that will be examined in the course are usually of interest to social scientists, however, they are not typically discussed in the context of their neurobiological underpinnings. The aim of the proposed course is to bridge the gap between the topics of social research and neurobiology. The topics discussed in the course will include: morality, cultural influences, empathy, social status, regret, free will, consciousness, personality, and others. Thus, students' perspective on these topics should be broadened [Scholarship, Global perspective, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Interdisciplinary perspective]
  3. By incorporating readings and discussions of basic findings, reviews, debates and controversies, students will become informed consumers of theories and findings in social and affective neuroscience. Ideally, students will come out of this course with the capacity to develop deep research questions, to undertake research under supervision, and to (re-)interpret experimental findings related to these research themes and perhaps others within neuroscience and psychology. [Scholarship, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research]
  4. Students will be required to demonstrate the ability to synthesize the knowledge in social and affective neuroscience gained and communicate that knowledge to others in oral and written form. They will communicate the knowledge both as a team and as individuals. [Scholarship, Critical thinking, Self-motivation, Teamwork]

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 13:00-14:50 28-34, 36-41