Cognitive Psychology

Autumn 2014

Class: SCC 201: MWF 9-9:50 Instructor: John H. Krantz, Ph.D.
Lab: SCC 148: T 2:00-4:50 Office: Science Center 151
Text: Cognition: Theory and Practice, 8th ed. by Revlin & Cognitive Tool Kit by Krantz & Morrisey Phone: x7316; Calendar

Office Hours:  
MF 10:00 AM
MW 2:00 PM

Others by appointment


Sep 1
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.

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

What is Cognitive Psychology Ch. 1
Cog Tool Kit: Center Surround Illusions, Basic Hebbian Learning
Data by Friday.
Week 2
The Brain and Cognition

Ch. 2
Spatial and Temporal Summation
Neural Coding
Cog Tool Kit: Partial Report, Serial vs. Parallel Search, Contour Deletion, Prototype Recognition, Signal Detection Theory, Signal Detection Experiment
Data by Friday.

Week 3
Pattern Recognition Ch 4
Cog Tool Kit: Spatial Cueing, Attentional Filtering, Stroop Effect, Attentional Blink
Data by Friday.
Week 4

Ch 3
Posner et al., 1980
Cog Tool Kit: Memory Span, Brown-Peterson, Rehearsal Functions, Sternberg Search, Serial Position Effect
Data by Friday.

Week 5
Short-Term Memory and Working Memory Ch 5
Miller, 1956
Cog Tool Kit: Episodic vs. Semantic Memory, Levels of Processing, Release from Proactive Interference, Release from Proactive Interference
Data by Friday.
Week 6
Long-Term Memory

Ch 6
Münsterberg (1908/1925)


Test 1, Due 3:00 PM

Week 7
Fall Break  
Week 7-8
Knowledge Ch 7
Cog Tool Kit: Memory for Names, Misinformation Effect, False Memory
Data by Tuesday
Cog Tool Kit: Mental Rotation, Mental Imagery, Cognitive Mapping
Data by Friday
Week 8-9
Imagery: Spatial Repesentation in Memory Ch 8
Cog Tool Kit: Lexical Decision, Garden Path, Word Superiority Effect
Data by Friday
Week 9-10
Language: A Cognitive Universal Ch 9; Illustration of McClelland and Rumelhart's Theory
Cog Tool Kit : Implicit and Explicit Memory
Data by Friday
Week 10
Language and Cognitive Processing Ch 10
Cog Tool Kit: Nine Dot Problem, Monty Hall, Decision Making, Wason Selection, Water Jug Problem
Data by Friday
Week 11-12
Solving Problems and Reasoning Ch 11 & Ch 12
Tversky & Kahneman, 1981
Cog Tool Kit: Decision Making Task
Data by Friday
Week 12
Decision Making Ch 13
Week 13
Thangsgiving Break  
Week 14
Artificial Intelligence Churchland & Churchland, 1990

Final Exam: Due at the End of Finals Exam Time

Laboratory Schedule

The laboratory web site.

Lab Period Laboratory/Article
Week 1 Attentional Blink I/Raymond et al. (1992). Temporary Suppression of Visual Processing in an RSVP Task: An Attentional Blink?
Week 2 Attentional Blink II
Week 3 Attentional Blink III
Week 4 Attentional Blink due/Brown-Peterson I/Peterson, L., & Peterson, M. (1959). Short-term retention of individual verbal items.
Week 5 Brown-Peterson II/Project Idea Due/Human Subject Form Draft Needed
Week 6 Brwon-Peterson III/Discuss Projects
Week 7 On Break
Week 8 Brown-Peterson due/Mental Rotation I Metzler & Shepherd (1974).  Transformational studies of the internal representation of three-dimensional objects
Week 9 Mental Rotation II 
Week 10 Mental Rotation III
Week 11 Mental Rotation Due/Final Project Time
Week 12 Final Project Time
Week 14 Final Project Time/Practice Presentation/Draft of Paper Due 
Last Week Project Presentations


In Class Data Collection

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 3:00 pm. So the experiments listed under Week 2 are due Friday of Week 1 by 3:00 pm. Most of the experments are in the Cognitive Tool Kit website and are listed as such above. The data are collected by the website and I will have access to the the data. In addition to the data, I need 2-3 sentences trying to interpret your data. Your interpretation needs to be based on the data you have. The interpretations must be mailed to me directly. Focus on what you found. Late data and interpretation loses 2 points, no data loses 10 points. Data is worth a total of 50 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 academic 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. Please feel free to talk with me about any difficulty you may be having that may impact your performance in this course as soon as it occurs and before it becomes unmanageable. Please also know that there are a number of other support services on campus that stand ready to assist you. I strongly encourage you to contact them if you need them. You can make appointments with Health Services by calling x-6102. Appointments for Counseling Services can be made online at any time through MyHanover.

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

Counseling Services
Catherine LeSaux
866-7399 or

Sara Crafton
866-7074 or

Katie Dine Young
866-6842 or

Health Services
Sandi Alexander-Lewis
866-7082 or

Chaplain’s Office
Laura Peck Arico
866-7087 or