Course Syllabus

Neuroscience of Fear 

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Semester & Location:

Summer 2018 Session 2 - DIS Copenhagen


3 credits

Course Study Tour:

Major Disciplines:

Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology


One year of biology at the university level

Faculty Members:

Bettina Hornbøll-Borch

Program Director:

Susana Dietrich

Time & Place:

Time varies, refer to Canvas calendar for lecture times- V10-B24. 


Bettina Pic

Bettina Hornbøll-Borch

Ph.D. (Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen, 2017), MSc. (Neurobiology, University of Copenhagen, 2006), BA (Biology, University of Copenhagen, 2004). Founder of CogniCation; cognitive communication. Has been conducting neuroscience research for approx. 10 years, investigating emotion processing in the brain using imaging. With DIS since 2012..

Course Description

This course reviews research investigating the neural bases for human mental processes with a focus on the cognitive explanation of fear, as well as the methods used. Throughout the course students will gain an overview of the most accepted and scientifically acknowledged methods available to study cognitive processes, both in animal and human models. The course will illustrate the cause-and-effects of fear on an anatomical and functional level, as well as demonstrate the physiological, psychological, and evolutionary aspects of fear.

Expected Learning Outcomes

After completion of this course the student will be able to:

  • Explain functioning of the brain in general terms, in particular with respect to the fear system
  • Describe several theories and concepts of emotion, especially fear
  • Identify fear in an evolutionary, biological, philosophical, and psychological sense
  • Discuss the influence of fear in everyday life as well as how fear is a component of several common dysfunctional behaviors.

The objectives of the study tour are:

  • To showcase examples of research, treatment, and education within emotion (and fear) research
  • To show examples of novel research methods and findings with both laboratory and clinical relevance
  • To explore and learn more about other societies in Europe present and in a historical perspective

Expectations for class as well as study tour:

  • Participate in all activities
  • Engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute to achieving the learning objectives
  • Respect the destination, the speakers, DIS staff, and your fellow classmates
  • Represent yourself, your home university and DIS in a positive light

Approach to Teaching

The course will be taught with a dynamic approach where the students are expected to participate in an interactive way, by contributing with questions, opinions, and explanations. 

Course Components

Expectations of Students & Code of Conduct

  • Laptops are not allowed to be open in the classroom unless agreed upon for specified tasks such as article reading and or for discussion purposes (Tasks will be agreed upon in each class)
  • Reading must be done prior to the class session
  • Since class participation is a component of the final grade, you will need to be present and participating to receive full credit. Your grade will be deducted for unexcused absences and lack of participation. And remember to be in class on time!
  • Classroom etiquette includes being respectful of one another’s opinions; listening to others and entering a dialogue in a constructive manner
  • Extensions: There will be no extensions. Any exceptions must be accompanied by prior agreement with me. Late work will not be accepted. It will not be possible to make a do-over of any written assignments.


This is an intensive course, and in just three weeks, you will receive three credits. In order to merit this you should expect a high workload. You should expect to use on average 2-3 hours preparing for each day of classes.

Field Study

Field studies serve to complement your course work by placing you in other contexts than class in order to compare, extend and rethink what has been (or will be) read and discussed in class.

 Field Study Date:

  • June 13 

Study Tour to Munich 

Study tours are an intense an intense combination of discipline-related and cultural exploration and experiences, bonding with fellow students, and fun. 

The tour to Munich will give an insight to the course, by way of visiting research facilities who are working with some of the newest, as well as more classical methods within the field of Fear research. The visit will allow for personal interaction with researchers, in some of the leading research institutes in the world such as Max Planck Institute, and the Ludwig Maximilian University. Finally we will naturally explore being in the very place where WWII began.

Evaluations and Grading

Engagement and Participation

Since class engagement is a major component of the course, you will need to be present and actively engaged in the activities to receive full credit.

Group Presentation and Discussion in Class

The presentations should have a logical and clear structure, provide relevant background information, explain the methods used, present the original data in a clear and interesting way, briefly discuss the findings in relation to previous research, and state the conclusions and perspectives of the results. The background information should include a short introduction to fear in general and an overview of the research topic in question.

Presentation (group grade – 10%)

Each group will be presenting a peer reviewed scientific paper. Highlighting the content of the paper, as well as discussing the content in a comparative fashion with similar papers of that field of research selected by the group. 

Questions for presenting group (5%)

Each member of the remaining groups responsible for asking questions to the presenting group will upload a minimum of one question, in advance of the group presentation.

The questions should relate to the material presented by the group.

Debate team for group presentation (5%)

This group should come to class as prepared as the presenting group. The group will be the debate team who will be in charge of facilitating a discussion, by asking questions to the group about the material presented. The debate group will also make sure that the questions asked in advance by the rest of the class have been thoroughly answered, as well as make sure the presenting group clearly and thoughtfully answers any questions that arise in class.

Presentation date

Presenting group

Question group

Debate team

June 26th




June 27th




June 27th




June 28th




Study Tour Assignment

A scientific paper focusing on combining academic visits with methodology and research articles/publications. The purpose is to give practice and experience on researching a scientific concept/mechanism/disorder (mental/neurological) related to  "Neuroscience of Fear”.

You will find relevant literature and make scientific conclusions based on the academic visits as well as results published in peer reviewed primary literature.

More fulfilling information will be given in class prior to all parts of the assignments

Final Exam

At the end of the course, there will be an accumulative exam, covering the entire course.

Final grade overview

Engagement & Participation


Group presentation of research paper (Group grade)


Questions for group presentations (Group grade)


Debate team for group presentations (Group grade)


Study tour assignment


Final Exam




 To be eligible for a passing grade in this class you must complete all of the assigned work.

 Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 

  DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


DIS Contacts

Tatyana Louisl, Program Assistant,  tel: +45 3376 5433
Susana Dietrich, Program Director, 
Science & Health Program Office, Vestergade 10-B12

Required Reading

  • Peer reviewed scientific articles, all relating to the material covered in the course. These articles are in the course compendia.

Recommended material:

  1. The app “iSurf Brainview Desktop” which can be downloaded for free from the apple app store has a general reference for brain structures and functions. Apple app store:
  2. is a web page in relation to a book of the same name, and contains all kinds of interesting and useful information about the human brain.

Reference List

  • Caspi, A. (2003). Influence of Life Stress on Depression: Moderation by a Polymorphism in the 5-HTT Gene. Science, 301(5631), 386–389. Compendium
  • Critchley, H.D., 2009. Psychophysiology of neural, cognitive and affective integration: fMRI and autonomic indicants. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 73(2), pp.88–94. Compendium
  • Damasio, A. R. (1996). The somatic marker hypothesis and the possible functions of the prefrontal cortex. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 351(1346), 1413–1420. Compendium
  • Davydow, D. S., Zatzick, D., Hough, C. L., & Katon, W. J. (2013). A longitudinal investigation of posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms over the course of the year following medical-surgical intensive care unit admission. General Hospital Psychiatry, 35(3), 226–232. Compendium
  • Dedovic, K., Duchesne, A., Andrews, J., Engert, V., & Pruessner, J. C. (2009). The brain and the stress axis: The neural correlates of cortisol regulation in response to stress. NeuroImage, 47(3), 864–871. Compendium
  • Fisher, P.M. & Hariri, A.R. (2012). Linking variability in brain chemistry and circuit function through multimodal human neuroimaging. 11(6):633-642. Compendium
  • Gore, J. C. Principles and practice of functional MRI of the human brain. J. Clin. Invest. 112, 4–9 (2003). Compendium
  • Hariri A.R. (2009). The neurobiology of individual differences in complex behavioral traits. Annual Rewievs Neuroscience 32:225-247. Compendium
  • Hartley, C. A., & Phelps, E. A. (2009). Changing Fear: The Neurocircuitry of Emotion Regulation. Neuropsychopharmacology : Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(1), 136–146. Compendium
  • Koenigsberg, H. W., Fan, J., Ochsner, K. N., Liu, X., Guise, K., Pizzarello, S., et al. (2010). Neural correlates of using distancing to regulate emotional responses to social situations. Neuropsychologia, 48(6), 1813–1822. Compendium
  • LeDoux, J. E., & Muller, J. (1997). Emotional memory and psychopathology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 352(1362), 1719–1726. Compendium
  • Lipka, J. et al., 2014. Effects of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy on Brain Responses to Subliminal and Supraliminal Threat and Their Functional Significance in Specific Phobia. BPS, 76(11), pp.869–877. Compendium
  • Ohman, A. (2005). The role of the amygdala in human fear: Automatic detection of threat. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 30(10), 953–958. Compendium
  • Olsson, A., & Phelps, E. A. (2007). Social learning of fear. Nature Neuroscience, 10(9), 1095–1102. Compendium
  • Raine, A. (2013) The Anatomy of Violence. Penguin UK. pp. 114 – 120. Compendium
  • Soares, S. C., Esteves, F., Lundqvist, D., & Öhman, A. (2009). Some animal specific fears are more specific than others: Evidence from attention and emotion measures. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47(12), 1032–1042. Compendium
  • Tsuchiya, N., & Adolphs, R. (2007). Emotion and consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11(4), 158–167. Compendium
  • William, J. (1884). What is an Emotion? Oxford Journals, 9(34), 188–205.Compendium
  • Ziegler, S. I. (2005). Positron Emission Tomography: Principles, Technology, and Recent Developments. Nuclear Physics A, 752, 679–687. Compendium

Course Summary:

Date Details Due