Syllabus - Psychology C120 / CogSci C100 Basic...

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Unformatted text preview: Psychology C120 / CogSci C100 Basic Issues in Cognition Summer 2011, Session D July 6, 2011 Course Details Instructor Email Lectures Office Hours Kyle E. Jennings, Ph.D. (include “Cog Psych” in subject line!) Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 2:30–5:00, 159 Mulford Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00–5:30, 159 Mulford (or just outside on patio) Overview This course is an introduction to the basic issues and methods in cognitive psychology, and is intended for both Psychology and Cognitive Science majors. The course is organized around three central questions: • • • Mind and Brain: How does studying cognition go beyond studying the brain? Methods: How can we study cognitive processes without directly observing what the brain is doing? Performance: How good are we at the cognitive tasks that we undertake? These questions will be explored over the course of three thematic units: • • • Unit 1: Fundamentals — We start by introducing the fundamentals of cognitive psychology as a discipline, with particular emphasis on how the study of language challenged behaviorist assumptions. After this, our focus on the fundamental processes of perception and attention will help introduce the experimental methods of cognitive psychology. Unit 2: Memory and Mental Representations — In the second unit, we’ll look at how various kinds of memory and mental representations help structure our thought, and will learn why memory is more than just a passive store of information. Unit 3: Thinking and Reasoning — The final unit, which encompasses what most people probably associate with cognition, starts with a look at the strengths and weaknesses of our basic reasoning and decision ­making processes, and then moves into more complex, deliberate mental activity, such as problem solving and creativity. In studying these topics, we will frequently revisit three central concepts: • • • The metaphor of cognition as information processing within the context of the world we inhabit. Evaluation of cognitive performance in terms of its correspondence to what is true in the world, its internal coherence, and its pragmatic suitability to real ­world demands. The tension between explaining cognition by reducing it to its constituent parts, or by understanding the irreducible, emergent features of these parts. By the end of this course, you should be familiar with the basic cognitive processes that our mind undertakes, be capable of understanding and evaluating empirical studies of cognition, and be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to understanding the mind and the brain. Course Materials Our textbook will be Cognitive Psychology (4th Ed.), by D. L. Medin, B. H. Ross, and A. B. Markman. This book should be available in campus bookstores. Additionally, you will need to purchase an access code for CogLab (Ver. 2.0) by G. Francis and I. Neath. Access codes can be purchased online by following the instructions at You only need to purchase an “Instant Access Code” — you do not need the printed manual. Note that used access codes will not work. Once you have purchased your access code, you can set up your account at by clicking on the “Create a new account” link and using “UCB ­2011 ­Summer ­D” as the Group ID and “alohomora” as the access password. (These instructions are also available on the course website under “Resources” / “Course Information”.) We will also make extensive use of the course web site, which is accessed via Log ­in using your Berkeley ID and password. You should automatically belong to the group called “Psych C120 / CogSci 100 – Summer Session D, 2011”. Let me know as soon as possible if you have trouble accessing the site. Grading Your grade depends on three exam scores (50%), several CogLab assignments (20%), a course paper (24%), and research participation (6%). There won’t be a curve, though points might be added to an exam’s score if the class average is too low. Exams. There are three in ­class exams (7/18, 8/1, and 8/12). These exams will be a mixture of multiple choice and short answer. You are responsible for bringing a green Scantron form to the exams—these can be purchased at campus bookstores. Alternative dates for exams will only be made under exceptional circumstances, and will be considered on a case ­by ­case basis. If you have a pre ­existing conflict with one of these dates, you must discuss it with me by July 8, and I will consider whether to grant an exception. After this date, I will only make alternative accommodations for unexpected emergencies (such as a medical emergency or death in the family), and will require written documentation. CogLab Assignments. You will complete a number of online experiments, which are replications of classical studies in Cognitive Psychology, via the CogLab website. We will use data from the class when we discuss these experiments in lecture. In addition to completing the experiment on the CogLab website, you will need to write and turn in a one ­paragraph description of each experiment via bSpace (graded on completion). Details will be provided before the first assignment is due. CogLab assignments must be completed by 11:59 on the night before the lecture for which they are assigned. For instance, the CogLab assignment for the lecture on Monday, July 8 is “Speech & Language — Categorical Perception – Discrimination”. Both the experiment and your one ­paragraph summary must be completed by 11:59 PM on Sunday, July 7. You must complete both the experiment and the summary to receive credit. Course Paper. You will write a short (five double ­spaced pages maximum) paper in APA format. More details will be given in class. The paper is due in ­class on August 5. Research Participation. As part of learning about psychology, you must participate in psychology experiments taking place on campus. You will earn the remaining 6% of your grade by earning three (3) participation credits, which typically means completing three separate in ­person experiments, six online experiments, or some combination thereof. To learn how to start participating in experiments, please go to and click on “Important Information for Students.” If you have any questions, you can email You may arrange to do an alternative assignment to complete this requirement; if you elect this option, you must notify me by July 13. Course Policies Attendance. You are expected to attend every lecture, though attendance won’t be taken. Material covered in lecture, but not the book, may appear on exams. You are expected to arrive at lecture on time (by 2:40). Please do not ask me to fill you in on material that you miss. Attention and Participation. You are expected to be attentive and to participate during lecture, and should be prepared to answer questions. You should not do anything that interferes with another student’s ability to pay attention, such as having conversations, browsing the web, or answering text messages. If your activities are distracting to others, you may be asked to stop them, or to leave for the day. Electronic Devices. You are welcome to take notes using whatever means you find most helpful, including notebook computers. However, you should not be using your computer for web surfing, instant messaging, etc. Please turn off your phone’s ringer and avoid text messaging while in class. Exams. You may not use notes, textbooks, or other reference materials during exams, nor may you talk to others. Also, no earpieces may be worn. Violation of these policies may result in failure of the exam or of the class, and will make you subject to University disciplinary action (see Communication. Announcements might be made in class, or via bSpace. Be sure to check the e ­mail associated with your bSpace account frequently so that you do not miss any important announcements. Feel free to ask questions in class. Outside of class, questions about course material or assignments should be posted to the bSpace forums—if you send them to me directly, I will ask you to post them to bSpace before answering them. Ask questions that are specific to your situation in office hours, or via e ­mail. Please be professional in your e ­mail communications. In particular, please use a letter format, and use proper spelling, grammar, and capitalization. Please ensure that you have “Cog Psych” in the subject line of your message so that I am sure to see it. Response times to bSpace and e ­mail may vary, but please allow at least 48 hours. Though you may occasionally receive them, you should not expect responses over the weekend. You will receive a faster response if your messages are short and to the point. Special Needs and Circumstances. Please bring up any special physical or learning needs that require accommodation as soon as possible. DSP letters should be delivered to me by July 13. If you are having a hard time in the course for personal reasons (e.g., family illness), please notify me as soon as possible so that we can determine how to deal with the situation. If accommodating your situation requires exceptions to course policies, then some sort of documentation will be required (e.g., a doctor’s note). Detailed Central Questions Research shows that having specific questions in mind as you learn helps you retain information better. I will offer specific questions for you to consider in each lecture. Additionally, we will revisit the three central questions throughout the course. They are reproduced here, along with some subsidiary questions, for your convenience: • Mind and Brain: How does studying cognition go beyond studying the brain? o How do our cognitive processes reflect the structure of the external world? o How do our cognitive processes reflect our evolutionary past? o How do “brain” and “mind” studies inform each other? • Methods: How can we study cognitive processes without directly observing what the brain is doing? o How do we make objective inferences about people's internal mental processes? o How can we express our theories about these processes? o How do we know that our theories meaningfully reflect how the mind works? • Performance: How good are we at the cognitive tasks that we undertake? o What are the limits of our cognitive capacity? o What cognitive tasks do we tend to do well, and where do we tend to fail? o When studying the mind's performance, how do we know what is “right”? Approximate Schedule NOTE: This schedule is subject to change, except for exam dates, which will not change. Please pay attention in lecture for more detailed reading assignments, and for the precise content of the exams. You will also be assigned to read about one original research article per week, which will be posted to bSpace. # 1 Monday 7/6 Wednesday Syllabus, Introduction 7/8 Friday Learning Read: Ch. 1 2 7/11 7/13 Language Read: Ch. 2 7/15 Perception Attention Read: Ch. 9 3 7/18 Read: Ch. 3 Read: Ch. 4 CogLab: Speech & Language — Categorical Perception  ­ Discrimination CogLab: Speech & Language — Word Superiority CogLab: Sensory Memory — Partial Report Exam 1 7/20 Memory Overview 7/22 Memory Systems Read: Ch. 5 4 7/25 Real ­World Memory 7/27 Read: Ch. 6 CogLab: Working Memory — Memory Span CogLab: Memory Processes — Levels of Processing Spatial Memory 7/29 Concepts/Categories Read: Ch. 7 8/1 Read: Ch. 10 CogLab: Metamemory — False Memory 5 Read: Ch. 8 CogLab: Imagery — Mental Rotation Exam 2 8/3 8/5 Reasoning J&DM Read: Ch. 11 Read: Ch. 14 CogLab: Judgment — Wason Selection CogLab: Judgment — Risky Decisions Course Paper Due 6 8/8 Problem Solving Read: Ch. 12 8/10 Expertise/Creativity Read: Ch. 13 8/12 Exam 3 ...
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