Experimental Psychology


This course examines the major fields of psychology, from a research perspective, with the aim both to illuminate the experimental methods used to examine psychological phenomena, and the advantags of triangulation of diferent research methods.


experimental psychology




lecture 1 William Blake ancient-of-days

1. Introduction to Experimental Psychology

Mark K. Smith: Kurt Lewin: groups, experiential learning and action research (2005), Operant Conditioning and Behaviorism - an historical outline, Gestalt Psychology, APA Monitor Online: Behaviorism: the rise and fall of a discipline (1999),Psychological Science Textbook Website (activities, summaries and videos)


Lecture 2 Research Methods

2. Research Methododologies and Ethics


Introduction to Research Methods and Experimental Design, The Scientific Method: 1 and 2. Sandra LaFave: Thinking Critically About the "Subjective"/"Objective" Distinction (2006). Philosophy of Science, Karl Popper Links:1 and 2. American Psychological Association (APA) Ethical Principlies and Code of Conduct (2003). British Psychological Society (BPS) Research Ethics and Code of Conduct (2006). Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research, Experimental Design and Paper Write Up (important!)

3. Genetics and Evolution

Charles Darwin: The Voyage of the Beagle and The Origin of Species. Gregory Caray: Introduction to Evolutionary Psychology, Leda Cosmides & John Tooby: Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer (1997). Robert Young: Science and the Humanities in the Understanding of Human Nature (2000). William Dickens and James Flynn: Heritability Estimates vs. Large Environmental Effects: The IQ Paradox Resolved (2001). Mark Shwartz: Essay on genes and behavior prompts culture clash in academic journal (2003). Ned Block: How Heritability Misleads about Race (1996), Lois Rogers, The Times: Love, Sex and the Changing Landscape of Infidelity. Jaak Panskepp and Jules Panskepp: The Seven Sins of Evolutionary Psychology (2000). Summary of Steven J. Gould's Mismeasure of Man, Richard Holdsworth: Book Review of The Gene Illusion by Jay Joseph. Human Genome Project Information: Behavioural Genetics, University of Plymouth: Evolutionary Psychology Resources. Evolution: Why Sex?

CARTOONS: Genes. Heredity. Genes 2. SNP. Phenotype

VIDEO: Attenborough: Tree of Life, Attenborough: The Evolution of the Eye, Stephen Pinker: The Blank Slate, Evolutionary Psychology: Sweaty T-Shirt and Human Mate Choice (2001) (youtube version)


brain and nervous system

4. The Brain and Nervous System


Psychological Science Animations. TEXT:  Robert H. Wozniak: Mind and Body: Rene Descartes to William James and the Rise of Experimental Psychology (1992). Architecture and the Mind Website with links. Wiki: Neuroimaging, Jaak Panksepp: Affective Neuroscience (1998). Mark Solms and Oliver Turnbull: The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of Subjective Experience (2004). The Brain From Top to Bottom: Interactive Flash Altas, The Whole Brain Atlas, Neuroscience for Kids, Neuropsychoanalysis Centre, Society, Journal,

VIDEOS: Prague Neuropsychoanalysis Group (free video lectures). Psychological Science Activities and Videos. Pinky: Brainstem! Ramachandran: Secrets of The Mind. The Emerging Mind (5 lectures)


lecture 4 animal and comparative psychology

5. Animal and Comparative Psychology


TEXTS: Harry Harlow: Love in Infant Monkeys (1959). James Olds: Pleasure Centre's in the Brain. Joseph Brady: Ulcer's in 'Executive' Monkeys (1958). APA Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE), Burrhus Fredric Skinner: 'Superstition' in the Pigeon (1947). Harry Harlow: The Nature of Love (1958). Alt.Web: Alternatives to animal testing. University of Plymouth, Psychology Learning Materials: Coping with Stress. S. Jones: Reading the Record. GAME: Pavlov's Dog Game!

VIDS: Attenborough: Bower birds. Harry Harlow's Monkey Love. Harlow scaring monkeys, Harlows monkeys, Bowlby: attachement, Strange Situation test, Mary Ainsworth: Attachement and the Growth of Love, Lyre bird, Pavlov's conditioning experiments (by Zimbardo), Eddie Izzard: Pavlov's Cats, BF Skinner: operant conditioning, Skinner on reinforcement, Ape awareness mirror test, Chimp tool use/termite fishing, Konrad Lorenz: imprinting, Human Ape,


6. Sensation and Perception

Our Sense of Touch, Psychological Science Animations and Videos, Laura Chivers: Blindsight and Consciousness (2002). Visual Illusions, Michael Bach: Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena including 'equiluminance'. Psychophysics, Sensation and Perception Tutorials, Sensation and Perception, Gestalt Principles of Perception, Rorschach Tests. Thematic Apperception Test, Henry Murray: Individual Differences: Thematic Apperception Test MANUAL.Projective Tests. Walter J. Freeman: The Physiology of Perception (1991), Freud lecture, A. E. Kazdin: Subliminal Perception (2000). Barry Arons: A Review of The Cocktail Party Effect, Aldous Huxley: The Doors of Perception (1954).

learning and reward

7. Learning and Reward

Learning Theories Map and Website, John Watson's online papers,Operant Conditioning and Behaviorism, GAME: Pavlov's Dog Game, Little Albert Experiment, Behavior Therapy, APA: Behaviorism: the rise and fall of a discipline (1999), Behaviourism. John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner: Conditioned Emotional Reactions (1920), Skinner: 'Superstition' in the Pigeon (1947). Radical Behaviourism, Albert Bandura, Observational Learning, Wolfgang Koehler: Gestalt Psychology Today (1959). APA: Childhood Exposure to Media Violence Predicts Young Adult Aggressice Behaviour, According to a New 15 Year Study (2003). Eric Kandel, LTP, Synaptic Plasticity, Neuroplasticity, Self Organization, Emergence, Complexity. Swarm Intelligence, Kandel Papers, Kandel Research Lab, Habituation, Mirror Neuron, Sensitization. Cell and Molecular Biology Studies of Memory Storage (Kandel), VIDEOS: Stress and Memory, Cyborg Insects. Brain-Controlled Rat and Monkey.

7. Memory

8. Memory

Anosognosia reading

Short-Term Memory Test (letters) and pictures, Joanna Schaffhausen: The Day His World Stood Still (Brain Connection, 2006). Scoville & Milner: Loss of recent memory after bilateral hippocampal lesions. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 20, (1957). Corkin, S: What's new with the amnesic patient H.M.? Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3(2), 153-60 (2002), Human Memory. Brain and Behaviour: Learning, Memory and Amnesia, Prof. Jerome Liss, M.D: Psychoanalysis and Neurophysiology. Davis: Freud's Screen Memory, Duke University: How Brain Gives Special Resonance To Emotional Memories (Science Daily, 2004). Peggy Rice: Gendered readings of a traditional "feminist" folktale by sixth-grade boys and girls (Journal of Literacy Research, 2000). Dosher et al: Fast decay of iconic memory in observers with mild cognitive impairments (2005, PNAS, vol. 102, no. 5, 1797-1802). Robert Baron: Pilots and Memory: A Study of a Fallible Human System, Levels of Processing (F. Craik and R. Lockhart). Elizabeth Johnston: Infantile Amnesia (1997), Mauro Mancia: Implicit memory and early unrepressed unconscious (2006). Levels of Processing Test, Ben Best: Learning, Memory and Plasticity.

VIDEOS: Ramachandran: Splitting, Denial, Narcissism and Anosognosia- Neuropsychoanalytic Perspectives on the Right Hemisphere. Clive Wearing: Life Without Memory, Oliver Sacks: Amnesia and Music and Alzheimer's and the Power of Music.

9. Consciousness and Free Will

William James Papers: Does 'Consciousness' Exist? (1904), The Stream of Consciousness (1892).

Libet's Brain Experiments, Consciousness and Free Will, Libet's Short Delay, Daniel Dennet: Freedom Evolves (2003). Antonio Damasio: The Feeling of What Happens (2000), Paul Newall: An Introduction to the Philisophy of Mind (2005). VIDEO: Split-Brain Experiments with Gazzaniga, The Mind-Body Debate. The Philosophy of Mind and the Mind-Body Problem. Dennis Overbye: Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t (New York Times, Jan 2007), Dennett on Consciousness. Solms & Turnbull: Mind and Brain



lecture 8 cognitive and language development

10. Cognition and Language Development

Prospect Theory, The Suggestibility of Children, Gerd Gigerenzer and Daniel G. Goldstein: Models of Bounded Rationality (1996). Trina C. Kershaw: Key Actions in Insight Problems: Further Evidence for the Importance of Non-Dot Turns in the Nine-Dot Problem (2006). Phillippe Mongin: Expected Utility Theory (1997), Peter Hepper: Unravelling our beginnings: the embryonic science of fetal psychology (2005). Amir Khella: Knowledge and Mental Models in Human-Computer Interaction (2002),Ann Arbor: Memory Starts To Decline In Our Mid-20s (2001). Karen Kersting: Measuring cognitive decline: Tests that measure age-related cognitive decline may not be completely accurate (2003). Heuristics, Garde et al: Decline in intelligence is associated with progression in white matter hyperintensity volume (2004). Douchemane & Fontaine: Can Fluid Intelligence Decline with Aging be explained by Complexity? (2003). Robert R. Provine: Laughter: A Scientific Investigation (2001), Donald Winnicott: Playing and Reality (2005). Margaret Snowling: Language Skills and Learning to Read (2004), Nim Chimpsky, Animal Language, Sign Language Studies. Famous Monkeys, Animal Communication, A Broken heart, Laura Petitoto: Impish chimp changed science (2000), Genie. Freud Guides: Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. S. Herron: Bewilderment and Suspension Bridges: The Joke as Symptom of Language (2006). Lacan and Language. Lecture: Stephen Pinker: The Stuff of Thought (and interview)

Lecture 10 Emotions and dreams

11. Emotion and Motivation

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby: Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions (2000). Daniel J. Burdick: The Neurobiology of Fear: Emotional Memory and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (2001). Duke University: How Brain Gives Special Resonance To Emotional Memories (Science Daily, 2004). Motivation, homeostasis, W. Huitt: Motivation to learn: An overview. Educational Psychology Interactive (2001). Deirdre Scully and Ruth Lowry: Why we do – And why we don't! On ‘participation motivation’ in sport and exercise (2002). Ruiz & Cid: Interactive Effect of Self-Efficacy and Incentive Value on Peripheral Physiological Reactivity in The Performance of a Cognitive Task (1997). Hans-Joachim Kornadt: Social Motives and their Develipment in Cultural Context (2002), Albert Bandura: Self-Efficacy Defined (1998). Holsen et al: Abnormal Food Motivation in Prader-Willi Syndrome: Relationship between Neural Dysfunction and Obesity using fMRI. Circadian Rhythms


Solms: on Korsakoff's, depression and addtion (The Feeling Brain)

lecture 10 dreams

12. Sleep and Dreams

Solms and Turnbull: on dreams. Gray, Braver & Raichle: Integration of emotion and cognition in the lateral prefrontal cortex (2002), International Neuro-Psychoanlysis Society. Mark Solms: The Interpretation of Dreams and the Neurosciences. Mark Solms: Dreaming and REM Sleep are Controlled by Different Brain Mechanisms, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (6) (2000). Sigmund Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams (1900). Freud Guides: The Interpretation of Dreams. Mark Solms: Freud Returns...(Hobson: ...Like a Bad Dream). William Domhoff: The Problems with Activation-Synthesis Theory (2006). Evolutionary Neurobehaviour Lab, Boston University School of Medicine: 1. Encorporation of Episodic Memory Fragments into Dreams. 2. Encorporation of Emotion into Dreams, 3. REM and NREMDifferences in Simulation of Social Interactions. 4. REM and NREM Differences and Interactions in Production of Emotional Content, Jolanda Jetten: Sleep on a Problem, It Works Like a Dream (The Psychologist, March 2006). Prague Neuropsychoanalysis Group: Videos and Articles


14. Information for the Final Exam

The final exam will be a choice of essay questions. You will choose any two of the final three topics covered and write two essays on these topics. Write approximately 1.5-2 pages per essay. The topics are:

i) Memory and the mind: describe research into the psychology and neuroscience of memory, and describe what we can learn about normal memory from studying memory disorders (both neurological and psychological)

ii) Emotions are central to our psychological lives. How has affective neuroscience increased our understanding of emotion and motivation in the mammalian brain? In your answer discuss Jaak Panksepp’s ‘basic emotion systems’ and other research on emotions.

iii) ‘Dreams are froth’? Discuss this with reference to experimental studies on sleep and dreaming and the controversy between Hobson and McCarley’s ‘activation-synthesis model’ and Mark Solms’ neuropsychoanalytic model of dreams, and what lessons this provides for experimental psychology.


Good Luck!

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