Course Syllabus

Neuroscience of Emotion

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Semester & Location:

Summer 2023, Session 1 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Neuroscience, Psychology


One course in neuroscience, physiological psychology, or biological psychology at the university level

Faculty Members:

Hannaneh Yazdi -

Academic support: 

Program Director:

Suman Ambwani -

Time & Place:

Monday-Friday, 14:40-17:40 in room 1D-409


Course Description

Prerequisite: One semester of neuroscience, physiological psychology, or biological psychology at the university level

How do we understand the interplay of human emotions and their neural networks? This course applies findings from the interdisciplinary field of neuroscience and the psychological study of cognition, emotion, and personality. Basic, complex, and social emotions are explored from the perspective of, for example, the subjective experience of emotion, non-conscious processes, and how emotions are interpreted, expressed, or regulated. Affective systems, neural networks, and their relationship to cognitive processes such as attention, learning, memory, and decision-making are addressed. Where relevant, human brain imaging findings, pathological conditions, treatment, and cultural perspectives are considered.


Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Discuss the main theoretical perspectives in affective neuroscience
  • Critically analyze the impact of emotions on cognitive processes, including - but not only - higher order functions
  • Integrate the different levels of emotion processing (cognitive, psychological, and neurological) and their interplay within multimodal models
  • Compare and discuss the alterations of affect and its regulation in terms of cognitive and neural processes from typical to pathological perspectives
  • Reflect upon the developmental milestones of emotions and their regulation in terms of behavior and neurological process
  • Present, discuss and criticize scientific papers
  • Critically evaluate research methods used in the affective neuroscience field

The following topics will be covered during the course:

Module 1: Theories of emotion and its cerebral correlates from a developmental perspective

Theories of emotions

Definition and classification

The example of Social Emotions

The development of Emotion

Module 2: Affective disorders

Perception alteration and everyday life difficulties

Genetics of affective and social disorders

Remediation: clinical applications  

Module 3: Emotions - mutual relationship between elicitation and cognitive skills

Emotion and the body: from touch to vision

Emotion and audition: language and music

Emotion and Olfaction: specific link to memory processes

Emotion and consciousness

Emotion regulation and the prefrontal cortex

Module 4: Variability in emotion

Sex and Gender differences


Cultural differences

Emotions in non human animals

Embedded within the different topics, students will acquire critical knowledge in neuroanatomy, hormonal and autonomic nervous systems, neuroimaging, physiological and psychological tools used in affective neuroscience research



Hannaneh Yazdi, with DIS since 2023



Required textbook

Armony, J.  & P. Vuilleumier (Eds.), (2013) The Cambridge Handbook of Human Affective Neuroscience; Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.

Chapter 1: Models of emotion: The Affective Neuroscience Approach, D. Sander

Chapter 3: A Two-Way Road: Efferent and Afferent Pathways of Autonomic Activity in Emotion, N. Harrison, S. Kreibig, H. Critchley

Chapter 7: The Facial Expression of Emotions,Nathalie George

Chapter 8: Bodily Expressions of Emotion: Visual Cuest and Neural Mechanisms, A. Atkinson

Chapter 10: Examining Emotion Perception and Elicitation via Olfaction, A. Mohantry, J. Gottfried

Chapter 11: Emotional Voices: The Tone of the (True) Feelings: C. Brück, B. Kreifelts, T Ethofer, D Wildgruber

Chapter 12: Emotion and Music, S. Koelsch

Chapter 16: Emotion Regulation, K. Luan Phan, C. Sripada

Chapter 23: Empathy from the Perspective of Social Neuroscience, O. Klimecki, T. Singer

Chapter 26: Sex Differences in Emotion, A. Schirmer

Chapter 27: Development of Affective Circuitry,E. Viding, C. Sebastian, E. McCrory

Chapter 28: Emotion and aging: Linking the Neural Mechanisms to Psychological Theories, P. St Jacquest, A. Winecoff, R. Cabeza

Books: (selected chapters)

Kandel (2013): Principles of Neural Science, 5th edition, chapter 48, Emotions and Feelings and chapter 47, The Autonomic Motor System and the Hypothalamus.


Aviezer, H., Hassin, R. R., Ryan, J., Grady, C., Susskind, J., Anderson, A., ... & Bentin, S. (2008). Angry, disgusted, or afraid? Studies on the malleability of emotion perception. Psychological science, 19(7), 724-732.

de Gelder, B., De Borst, A. W., & Watson, R. (2015). The perception of emotion in body expressions. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 6(2), 149-158.

Zou, L. Q., van Hartevelt, T. J., Kringelbach, M. L., Cheung, E. F., & Chan, R. C. (2016). The neural mechanism of hedonic processing and judgment of pleasant odors: An activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis. Neuropsychology, 30(8), 970.

Calvo, M. G., Gutiérrez-García, A., & Del Líbano, M. (2018). What makes a smiling face look happy? Visual saliency, distinctiveness, and affect. Psychological research, 82(2), 296-309.

Oatley, K., & Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2014). Cognitive approaches to emotions. Trends in cognitive sciences, 18(3), 134-140.

Campos, J. J., Frankel, C. B., & Camras, L. (2004). On the Nature of Emotion Regulation. Child Development, 75(2), 377–394.

Martin, R. E., & Ochsner, K. N. (2016). The neuroscience of emotion regulation development: Implications for education. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 10, 142–148.


Guest Lecturers

Kathinka Evers, Professor of Philosophy is senior researcher in philosophy at the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) at Uppsala University and Professor ad honoram at the Universidad Central de Chile. Her research focuses on philosophy of mind, neurophilosophy, bioethics and neuroethics. She directs the teaching and research on neuroethics at Uppsala University, where she started the first courses in the subject. Since 2013, she leads the neuroethics and philosophy work in the Human Brain Project. 

Elodie Cauvet, obtained her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, from Pierre & Marie Curie University in Paris (France). Her research interest started with language acquisition in infants leading to the study of the cerebral processing of language and music in adults. She became interested in neurodevelopmental disorders starting with developmental dyslexia then expending into autism spectrum disorders as well as ADHD. She is using techniques from psychology as well as neuroimaging in her research, this includes MRI (anatomical and functional) as well as EEG and eye tracking. She has been conducting her latest research at Karolinska Institutet Center for Neuro-developmental Disorders (KIND). Her interests include social cognitive skills, empathy and emotion processing within the whole spectrum of functioning from typicality till disorders such as ASD. She has been with DIS since 2016.

Joshua Juvrud, Ph.D. in Psychology (Uppsala University). As a research psychologist, his work has focused on the ways that novel techniques in research (eye-tracking, pupil dilation, virtual reality) can be used to assess how children and adults perceive and interpret people, emotions, and actions. Josh focuses this research in two fields. In developmental psychology at the Child and Babylab in Uppsala, he seeks to understand how children learn about their world and the social cognitive development of face perception and socialization processes such as gender, race, and ethnicity. In games research at the Games & Society Lab at the Department of Game Design in Visby, Gotland, his work examines the psychology of people, their actions, and emotions in game development, player engagement, learning, and immersion to understand better how different game players (with different personalities, traits, and experiences) interact with various game mechanisms and are, in turn, affected by game experiences. With DIS since 2020.

Approach to Teaching

Each class includes both lectures by the teacher and discussions led by the students.  We will develop and reflect upon the emotions, mood, and their typical and atypical correlates from different descriptive scales: physiological, psychological, cognitive, and neural. Classes’ content relies on the readings. The content of the readings is expected to nourish the discussions and might not be developed in detail during the class. However, any unclear areas, pointed out by students’ questions, will be reviewed in class. 

Expectations of the Students

Students are expected to be involved in their studies and are responsible for them. In addition to being present in class, having read the required readings, and handing in assignments in due time (all mandatory), students are expected to participate actively in class and create a lively and positive learning environment. This includes but is not restricted to, participating in the discussions and asking questions to both teacher and peers.

Students are responsible for their learning. This implies taking notes from the lecture and summarizing the content of both lectures and discussions. Presentations include graphs, pictures, and illustrations necessary to understand the class. Students are expected to take notes complementing and explaining the slides. The slides are a support and should be treated as such and not as the main source of information. Class content, delivered orally by the teacher, needs to be written down individually by the students. Main discussions must be summarized by the students and transcribed.


The course consists of lectures, discussions, assignments at home and in class, as well as field studies. Students’ attendance to the classes, visits, and their active participation in the discussions are mandatory and taken into account in the evaluation. In discussions and assignments, students are required to demonstrate that they read and understood the required literature. They should be able to integrate their knowledge to discuss in-depth research questions and topics. Showing independent and critical thinking is expected.





Active Class Participation  (individual)


Elevator Pitch Presentation (individual) 


Field Studies (individual) 10%
Symposiums (individual) 10%
Quiz (individual) 15%

1- Final Project Oral Part: Affective Disorder Presentation (group)


2- Final Project Written Part: Integrative Research Report (group) 15%

3- Final Project Performance Part: Board Game (group)




 Detailed assignment descriptions and rubrics are available via Canvas and in-class. 


Assignments Descriptions

Active class participation (15%)

The student is active in discussions and group work. Active participation and engagement includes asking questions related to readings and material presented in the class and taking part in discussions as well as being active during field trips and guest lectures. Active participation also means taking the initiative. The grade is split into active participation in class, active participation in field studies and active participation in study tour. Class attendance is mandatory and will be reflected in this assignment grade, each unattended class will result in a 7% decrease of the grade. Just being present to all classes will be awarded with a C. You need to actively work to increase your grade.


1- Kick-off

we meet through a 3 hour workshop to introduce ourselves and kick-off this course together. you are asked to watch a video before the kick-off session. We will go through some discussions on how to build the class culture together and meet our expectations. 

  • Introduce the class content
  • Discuss class expectations
  • Team building and group arrangement. (you will work with the same group of 3 or 4 for your assignments)
  • Individual presentation: Elevator Pitch Presentation (5%)
  • Ice-breaker: Meet fellow students and teacher

2- Board Game Creation

Through a fun 3 hour workshop, you will start exploring the relationship between emotions, playing, and learning. To guide you through the final assignment, namely creating a board game on the topic of affective neuroscience, you will kickstart the creation of your own board game with a professional board game designer. Concretely, you will work iteratively through the process of creating a board game. Related to Board Game Final Project (15%).

3- Yoga and Mindfulness

The students will be guided to a yoga and mindfulness session. yoga mats are provided and please put on comfortable clothes for some yoga practice. the level of the practice is adjustable based on students' previous experiences. There will be different proposed options for each pose and you will be guided through a relaxed yoga flow followed by breathing exercises.

Field Studies (10%):

1- Nobel Prize Museum

How are emotions represented in Music? Representing and experiencing emotions.

Through fun 3 hour, you will start exploring the relationship between emotions, science, music, playing, and learning. You will be guided through the museum by a special tour guide followed by a coffee break and group discussion. You will end our visit by listening to the content that will take place at the Nobel Prize Museum's lounge area by AVAWAVES.

At the end of the visit, you will submit a summary of your group experience, observation, and learning (including a picture from your group during the visit). You can utilize text, video, picture, and any approach that is possible to be submitted online. 

3 - Fotografiska

How are emotions represented in photography? Representing and experiencing emotions.

We will visit the Fotografiska Museum of Stockholm. You will team up and go through the different exhibitions for approx. 90min. Questions will be used to guide the experience and allow for reflection. These reflections will be discussed together right afterward around a Fika.

Each student in the group will select pieces of art that depict one different emotion, and analyze how these emotions are rendered, (specifically identifying which features were critical for this emotional recognition). You will further reflect upon the individual emotions that were elicited by these pieces. Specifically, you need to pay attention to your own feelings but also to your physiological responses. Think that these emotional responses can be related to other moments in your life. Reflect on how these responses might have affected your decisions, actions, etc. After the visit, we will meet for a Fika (Swedish tradition to gather around coffee and pastries)  to discuss and present your reflections and findings in order to eventually define the emotions and their physiological, psychological, and neural correlates. This field study constitutes the introduction and presentation of the class.

At the end of the visit, you will submit a summary of your group experience, observation, and learning (including a picture from your group during the visit). You can utilize text, video, picture, and any approach that is possible to be submitted online. 

Symposiums (15%)

The selected chapters from the textbook will be divided into two parts. Each part will be discussed during the symposium session in groups. Preparation is instructed by a list of questions from the selected chapters for each session. Active participation and engagement in the discussion are vital during the session. 

Quiz  (15%)

Short answered questions (between 7 and 10) and two short essays. Short answer questions will be a combination of information recall and explanation of concepts and theory. Short essays will summarize knowledge on a specific topic covered in class and will require integration of class content. This can include describing emotional processing at the neural level in a concrete everyday life situation or proposing an experiment to answer a research question and the expected results.

Final project (45%)

Get organized in groups of 3 (ideally) and pick an affective/mood disorder that you want to dig in. So the post should contain the name of the group members and the disorder you are interested in. You will be able to use the DSM-5 as a start of your research (see in the files/bibliography sections. If you want to dig into another disorder that isn't in the list below, make your case why you want to study it and how it relates to our class!

Non exhaustive list of affective/mood/emotion related disorders:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • ASD (in neurodevelopmental disorder section)
  • Biopolar disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Depressive disorders (different ones)
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Personality disorders (different types, including psychopathy for instance)
  • Schizoaffective disorders
  • PTSD (in trauma section)

You will have to work on your own for this project. Dedicated time through the semester will allow some in-class check up on advancements. The assignment consists of three parts:

1- Final Project Oral Part: Research Presentation (15%)

Groups of three students (ideally) will be assigned to an affective disorder that they will need to research on. The goal of this assignment is to be able to provide the class with a comprehensive presentation of the disorder and integrate the content of the course with the state of the art research on the disorder. In addition to the presentation, that will take place, students will have to hand in a visual summary (powerpoint presentation slides, poster, brochures) that will summarize and integrate their knowledge of the disorder. This content will be used for the game board. You need to describe alos the defined purpose of your game and the applied strategy. During class presentations, students are expected to ask questions and discuss with their peers. Prepare for 20 min presentation and 10 min discussion part. 

2- Final Project Written Part: Integrative Research Report (15%)

The integrative research report aims to summarize and integrate the content of the selected affective/mood/emotion related disorder. Specifically, you will explain in detail the topics that your game will develop, both from a neuroscience perspective but also from a game design perspective. This reflection on your game will integrate the effect of pedagogical tools on knowledge dissemination and consolidation. Both form your experience in designing this game but also playing other games: what are the effects of playing on the learning process, and how are emotions used in this context. Discuss it from cognitive and affective neuroscience perspectives. References to scientific papers and experiments are required to support the different points developed through the paper.

Whatever format you wish to use for your assignment, there are some common key requirements:

  1. Final report need to have 1800-2000 words. You must integrate information from a minimum of 10 peer-reviewed journal articles (not including Empty or student research presentations – those may be used but do not count toward the minimum requirement). You are welcome to consult scholarly resources outside of the course material as well. And of course, the more you can integrate, the better you will able to demonstrate the breadth of your learning this semester.
  2. You must include references (in text-citations and references) in APA format for all of the evidence that you present in your project. Please avoid using direct quotes as far as possible – it is always better to paraphrase content and then cite the source at the end.

More concretely, the paper can be split into 2 sections: game design and reflection on the emotions elicited by board game as an effective learning tool.

3- Final Project Performance Part: Board Game (15%)

The student group will be tasked to develop a creative and intuitive game related to affective/mood/emotion disorder. They need to create a creative game by focusing on clear learning outcomes and purpose in a corporative approach. They will work on game development through the summer term. The involvement and process of board game creation will be graded by the faculty. Game design should include a discussion of the iterative research process leading to your final board game. Why did you choose the topics, and how are they best conveyed by your board game: a) the game choice, b) what the game mechanics try to achieve, c) the choice of content in terms of knowledge dissemination (think about your target group, and your goal when designing the game).

How should you approach this assignment?

This assignment is worth 45% of your final course grade. Please check Canvas for the due date (at the end of the semester).

  1. Identify 3-5 key messages. What are the main points that you wish to clearly incorporate in your selected affective/mood/emotion related disorder (i.e., what are the key theoretical or empirical elements that you wish to highlight here)? These points will form the basis for your final project. You should then identify the research that you will draw upon create your resource.
  2. Consider your audience. Who is likely to be your audience for this project? What is likely to be their knowledge base, familiarity with the concepts, and reading level? How might you best capture their attention and convince them that your project is worth reading?
  3. Avoid jargon. Can someone who is a member of your target audience review your project to help you identify unfamiliar/disciplinary-specific language? How can you scaffold the information in your project to slowly, step-by-step introduce and explain complex concepts?
  4. Review examples of similar projects for inspiration. What worked well? What does not work well? How did the author present the information to catch your attention? What features helped to enhance clarity and engagement on the part of the reader? What made the information memorable?


This course is an intensive course. In just three weeks, you will cover extensive content and receive three credits. In order to merit this you should expect a high workload and intensive preparation for classes on a daily basis.

Use of laptops and phones in class

Based on the latest research on the topic, the only use of laptops or phones that is beneficial to the learning process is if it is solely used as a learning tool, namely taking notes, or taking the quizzes. However, most of the time, it is extremely hard (to to cerebral attentional processes to ignore all other enticement that these devices provide. If you cannot mute/ignore non class related tools/processes, then it has a detrimental effect on learning. As such, I recommend using your laptop only for taking notes in class (or specifically asked class related tasks), any other uses will not be accepted.


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 -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due