Cognitive Psychology

Autumn 2016

Class: SCC 147: MWF 9:20-10:30 Instructor: John H. Krantz, Ph.D.
Lab: SCC 148: T 1:00-4:00 Office: Science Center 151
Text: Cognitive Psychology: In and Out of the Laboratory, 5th Ed., Kathleen Galotti Phone: x7316; Calendar

Office Hours:  
MWF: 2:30-3:30 pm
T: 8:30-9:30 am

Others by appointment


Sep 12
Here are the settings for the Signal Detection experiment with the data due Friday: Run 6 times total.
On the Stimulus Settings tab: Relative Speed of Stimulus: 1, 2.5 (run three times at each level).
On Method Settings tab: Percentage of Trials with a Signal: 10, 50, 90 (each level run once at the two speeds above. So:

Relative Speed of Stimulus
Percentage of Trials with Signal   1 2.5
10 1, 10 2,5, 10
50 1, 50 2.5, 50
90 1, 90 2.5, 90

Use the information about percentage of trials with signal. If 90% of the trials have a stimulus and you are not sure what is your best guess? if 10% of the trials have a stimulus and you are not sure, what is your best guess? Use that.

Sep 5
Welcome to the Cognition.  I hope you had an enjoyable summer and are well rested.   All changes to the course will be posted here as well as announced in class.  In addition, if new resources become available, you will be able to find them here. Also, read this paper about replication in psychology.

Definition of Cognitive Psychology

What is this course that you are embarking upon? What is cognition?  In the most basic terms cognition is the action of the brain or mind to understand the world around us and to determine an appropriate action.  To unpack that barebones definition, there are many activities that are required.  For example, you need to perceive the world around you, remember past events to compare present events to, select the important parts of the world to attend to, store what has been learned from the current experience for later use, understand and transmit language, etc.


Course Objectives: My primary goal for this course is to develop your ability to think soundly and well using the material of cognitive psychology.  As part of this goal you will need to comprehend the substance and methods of cognitive psychology.

Major Objectives: In the context of this major, this course is an upper level lab based course.  As such the department has specified some goals for you.  First, the department wants to develop a more independent level of thinking as you progress through the major.  Thus, there will be less structure to the course and you will be given some responsibility for assignments.  As part of this goal, you will also be asked to develop your own cognitive theory.  Second, the department wants to have you prepared more for an independent research project which forms the senior capstone experience.  Thus, you will be asked to design and implement a small research project to present at the end of the semester.

Attitude Toward Text

I want you to consider the text book not so much as a document as to the current nature of cognitive psychology, which is its attempt, but as a theory of cognitive psychology, which is what it is.  The author tries to present several theories about cognitive psychology  but definitely has an overall sense of how cognition works that guides his presentation.  It would be dishonest to do otherwise, to present a theory or idea that he believes is demonstrably false just for the sake of balance.  So as you read, read with your critical mind awake critiquing the ideas and using the evidence you have at hand to determine what you think is correct.  A truism in science is that most major discoveries are made by those new in the field that have unjaundiced eyes. Thus your inexperience may be a great benefit is seeing what those more experienced may miss or misunderstand.  In addition, wherever possible you will be given as set of studies to do (the data are due by 3:00 pm on the Friday before they are discussed).  We will used the data from our class as a jumping off point for discussion.


Class Behavior Rules

(Dates in red are dates where I am scheduled to be out or town or might be out of town.  That day's activities will be announced later)

Day/Date Topic Reading/Assignment

Week 1

Cognitive Psychology: History, Methods, and Paradigms

Ch. 1
Spatial and Temporal Summation
Neural Coding
CogLab: Brain Asymmetry
ISLE: ISLE 3.11 (a). Simulating Kuffler's Experiment, ISLE 3.11 (b). Center-Surround Receptive Fields as Contrast Detectors

Data by Friday.

Week 2
The Brain: An Overview of Structure and Function

Ch. 2
Partial Report, Müller-Lyer, Garner Interference
ISLE: ISLE 2.9. Signal Detection Experimen (settings will be given in class), ISLE 9.2. Feature vs Conujunction Search (Do all three types of search on the latter experiment on Method Settings tab)

Week 3
Perception: Recognizing Patterns and Objects

Ch. 3
Cog Tool Kit: Stroop Effect, Spatial Cueing, Simon Effect, Change Detection
ISLE: ISLE 9.4 (b). Attentional Blink and Repetition Blindness : Experiment
Data by Friday.

Week 4
Attention: Deploying Cognitive Resources Ch 4
CogLab: Suffix Effect, Brown-Peterson, Memory Span, Sternberg Search, Serial Position Effect, Phonological Similarity
Data by Friday.
Week 5
Working Memory: Forming and Using New Memory Traces

Ch 5
CogLab: Encoding Specificity, Forgot it all Along, Von Restorff Effect, Levels of Processing
Data by Friday.

Week 6
Retrieving Memories from Long-Term Storage
No Class Friday Unless In Class Test

Ch 6
CogLab: False Memory, Word Superiority Effect, Irrelevant Speech Effect
Data by Friday.


Test 1, Due 3:00 PM

Week 7
Fall Break  
Week 7-8
Knowledge Reppresentation: Storing and Organizing INformation in Long-Term Memory

Ch 7
CogLab: Mental Rotation
Data by Friday.

Week 8-9
Visual Imagery and Spatial Cognition Ch 8
CogLab: Lexical Decision, Categorical Perception-Identification, Word Superiority Effect
Data by Friday
Week 9-10
Language Ch 9
CogLab: Prototypes, Typical Reasoning, Monty Hall, Risky Decisions, Wason Selection Task
Data by Friday
Week 10-11
Thinking and Problem Solving Ch 10
Illustration of McClelland and Rumelhart's Theory

Cog Lab: Decision Making
Data by Friday
Week 11-12
Reasoning and Decision Making

Ch 11

Week 12
Thangsgiving Break  
Week 13
Individual Differences in Cognition Ch 13
Other Source: Basic Hebbian Learning
Data by Friday.
Week 14
Artificial Intelligence  

Final Exam: Due at the End of Finals Exam Time

Laboratory Schedule

The laboratory web site.

Lab Period Laboratory/Article
Lab 1 Stroop Task I/Stroop (9139) Studies of Interference in Seriel Verbal Reactions
Lab 2 Stroop Task II
Lab 3 Stroop TaskIII
Lab 4 Stroop Task due/Project Idea Due/Human Subject Form Draft Needed/Discuss Projects
Lab 5 Experiment 2 I//Paper to be assigned
Lab 6 Experiment 2 II
Lab 7 Experiment 2 III
Lab 8 Experiment Due/Final Project Time
Lab 9 Final Project Time
Lab 10 Final Project Time (I will be out of town Thurday Nov 17)
Lab 11 Final Project Time
Lab 12 Final Project Time/Practice Presentation/Draft of Paper Due 
Last Lab Project Presentations


In Class Data

Most weeks you will be required to collect some data from cognition related experiments. That data will be due the Friday of the week before we use that data by 2:30 pm. Most of the experments are in the CogLab cd's and are listed as such above. There are a few experiments that draw on other sites, they have links indicated above. You will need to email me the data in an excel sheet. This data is central to our class discussions and lack of participation in the data collection is a serious lack of class participation. Data is worth a total of 100 points.


Over the course of the semester there will be two take home exams.  These exams will be in an essay format.  You will get the questions about 1 week ahead of time.  These exams will either be in class or take home.  We will discuss these options in class.  If the exams are take home, they will due, emailed as a Word file, at the end of the day indicated above.  Each exam is cumulative and therefore each exam is worth more points.  The points are awarded as follows:

Test 1 100 points
Test 2 150 points

Laboratories and Their Reports

For each laboratory you write of a brief paper describing the lab and the results from the lab. The format of the reports will be APA.  You have had APA format before so you are expected to be familiar with writing papers in this format.  The labs are to be emailed to me in a Word format on the due date indicated.

Final Laboratory Project

In teams of two or three, you will design and conduct an experiment in the realm of cognitive psychology.  To prepare you for this project, you need to develop teams and develop an idea for the project by the lab period set aside to discuss the projects.  During this lab the class will act a research group.  Each team will present their project idea and the whole class will discuss the project, anticipate projects and suggest solutions and improvements.  At the end of the term you will present the project in written, and oral formats.  The paper is due on Thursday of dead week.  The paper will be emailed to me in a Word format by 5:00 pm that day.  For your assistance, here is a link to past PowerPoints, and in some cases papers, from past projects.

The points for the various parts of this project are:

Initial Presentation of Idea 25 points
Oral Presentation 75 points
Written Version 75 points


Grading and Policies

Class Participation:

To help ensure that students actively participate there is a participation grade of 100 points. Attendance alone cannot but provide for half of these points.  As stated above, sharing of your views and critiquing the ideas of others is a necessary part of this class.  These behaviors are necessary for the remainder of the class participation grade.  

Late Policy:

An assignment is late 1 minute after the beginning of class. One letter grade will be subtracted for the first day late and another letter grade for each additional day.  No assignment will be accepted more than three days late.  The one exception to this rule is for homework.  No late homework will be accepted at all.

Grades will be converted to percentiles and letter grades will be assigned as follows:


Percentage Range 


100 - >93%


93 - 90%


<90 - 87%


<87 - >83%


83 - 80%


<80% - 77%


<77 - > 73%


73 - 70%


<70 - 67%


<67 - 60% 


< 60% 

Statement on Self-Care
Your success in this course and throughout your college career depends heavily on your personal health and wellbeing.  Stress is a common part of the college experience, and it often can be compounded by unexpected life changes outside the classroom.  Your other professors and I strongly encourage you to take care of yourself throughout the term, before the demands of midterms and finals reach their peak.  Before circumstances and conditions become overwhelming, please don’t hesitate to speak with me about any difficulty you may be having that may affect your academic performance.  Please know as well that there are a number of support services on campus available to assist you, as needed.  You can make appointments with Health Services by calling x-6102.  Appointments for Counseling Services can be made online at any time through MyHanover.

Health Services
Sandi Alexander-Lewis, Director
866-7082 or

Counseling Services
Catherine Le Saux, Director
866-7399 or

Sara Crafton, Staff Counselor
866-7074 or

Chaplain’s Office
Reverend Catherine Knott
866-7087 or

Gladish Center for Teaching and Learning
Kay Stokes, Director
866-7215 or

Career Center
Margaret Krantz, Director
866-7126 or