Departmental Courses

PSYC 31510. Neuroscience of Communication. We will read and discuss communication and how various kinds of communication are mediated by neural systems. The course will cover theories, methods, and empirical findings in communication neuroscience. Topics will include speech and language, emotional information, face perception, gesture, and music. H. Nusbaum, Spring.

PSYC 33000. Cultural Psychology: Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations. There is a substantial portion of the psychological nature of human beings that is neither homogeneous nor fixed across time and space. At the heart of the discipline of cultural psychology is the tenet of psychological pluralism, which states that the study of "normal" psychology is the study of multiple psychologies and not just the study of a single or uniform fundamental psychology for all peoples of the world. Research findings in cultural psychology thus raise provocative questions about the integrity and value of alternative forms of subjectivity across cultural groups. In this course we analyze the concept of "culture" and examine ethnic and cross-cultural variations in mental functioning with special attention to the cultural psychology of emotions, self, moral judgment, categorization, and reasoning. Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing. Instructor consent required. R. Shweder, Autumn.

PSYC 33660. The Psychopathic Mind: Mad or Bad?. This course introduces students to research into clinical neuroscience and psychiatric research and theories of psychopathy, as well as their implications for the justice system. Is psychopathy best described as a discrete category or a dimensional construct? Is psychopathy a disorder or an adaptation? What neural mechanisms underlie the various atypical aspects associated with psychopathy? Can psychopathy be detected in young children? Is antisocial behavior central to psychopathy or merely an epiphenomenon that is neither diagnostic of psychopathy nor specific to personality deviation? What can we learn about morality by studying psychopathy? Do individuals with psychopathy lack the ability to make moral judgment, or lack moral motivation? Should they be morally and legally responsible for their criminal behavior? Should the behavioral manifestations of psychopathy, such as the potential for danger or recidivism, be aggravating factors in sentencing? J. Decety, Spring.

PSYC 34400. Computational Neuroscience III: Cognitive Neuroscience. This course is concerned with the relationship of the nervous system to higher order behaviors (e.g., perception, action, attention, learning, memory). Psychophysical, functional imaging, and electrophysiological methods are introduced. Mathematical and statistical methods (e.g., neural networks, information theory, pattern recognition for studying neural encoding in individual neurons and populations of neurons) are discussed. Weekly lab sections allow students to program cognitive neuroscientific experiments and simulations. Prerequisite(s): BIOS 24222 or CPNS 33100. N. Hatsopoulos, Spring.

PSYC 34410. Computational Approaches for Cognitive Neuroscience. This course is concerned with the relationship of the nervous system to higher order behaviors such as perception and encoding, action, attention, and learning and memory. Modern methods of imaging neural activity are introduced, and information theoretic methods for studying neural coding in individual neurons and populations of neurons are discussed. Prerequisite(s): BIOS 24222 or CPNS 33100. N. Hatsopoulos, Spring.

PSYC 36210. Mathematical Methods for Biological Sciences I. This course builds on the introduction to modeling course biology students take in the first year (BIOS 20151 or 152). It begins with a review of one-variable ordinary differential equations as models for biological processes changing with time, and proceeds to develop basic dynamical systems theory. Analytic skills include stability analysis, phase portraits, limit cycles, and bifurcations. Linear algebra concepts are introduced and developed, and Fourier methods are applied to data analysis. The methods are applied to diverse areas of biology, such as ecology, neuroscience, regulatory networks, and molecular structure. The students learn computations methods to implement the models in MATLAB. Prerequisite(s): BIOS 20151 or BIOS 20152 or consent of the instructor. D. Kondrashov, Autumn. 

PSYC 36211. Mathematical Methods for Biological Sciences II. This course is a continuation of BIOS 26210. The topics start with optimization problems, such as nonlinear least squares fitting, principal component analysis and sequence alignment. Stochastic models are introduced, such as Markov chains, birth-death processes, and diffusion processes, with applications including hidden Markov models, tumor population modeling, and networks of chemical reactions. In computer labs, students learn optimization methods and stochastic algorithms, e.g., Markov Chain, Monte Carlo, and Gillespie algorithm. Students complete an independent project on a topic of their interest. Prerequisite(s): BIOS 26210 
Equivalent. D. Kondrashov, Winter. 

PSYC 36655. Advanced Topics in Epigenetics of the Brain. Once considered a domain of cancer, we now recognize that epigenetic processes affect neurodevelopment, cognitive processes, mental disorders, and behavior. Epigenetic mechanisms are those that alter the function of the genome without altering the base sequence of genomic DNA (the As, Cs, Ts, and Gs we are familiar with), thus can be flexibly modified in response to the environment. In this seminar, we will explore a variety of epigenetic modifications, consider how they encode personal and transgenerational experiences, and examine how they direct brain function and behavior. Behavior can be understood on multiple levels and timescales; we will employ knowledge from the emerging field of epigenetics to shed more light into the black box of behavior. Note: Only Fourth year college students with permission. S. London, Winter.

PSYC 37300. Experimental Design I. This course covers topics in research design and analysis. They include multifactor, completely randomized procedures and techniques for analyzing data sets with unequal cell frequencies. Emphasis is on principles, not algorithms, for experimental design and analysis.  M. Berman, D. Yurovsky, Spring.

PSYC 37400. Human Memory. This seminar surveys the scientific study of human memory, emphasizing theory, research, and applications. We will cover current research and methods in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, as well as historical precursors and classic studies. Topics include conscious and nonconscious memory processes, corresponding neural systems, and various phenomena such as amnesia, source monitoring, reconsolidation, confabulation and distortion, and autobiographical memory.  D. Gallo, Winter.

PSYC 37900. Experimental Design II. 100 Units. Experimental Design II covers more complex ANOVA models than in the previous course, including split-plot (repeated-measures) designs and unbalanced designs. It also covers analysis of qualitative data, including logistic regression, multinomial logit models, and log linear models. An introduction to certain advanced techniques useful in the analysis of longitudinal data, such as hierarchical linear models (HLM), also is provided. For course description contact Psychology. Not offered in 2019-20 (Planned for Autumn 2020).

PSYC 40107. Behavioral Neuroscience. This course provides an introduction to neuroethology, examining brain activity relative to behaviors and organisms evaluated from an adaptive and evolutionary perspective. It starts with a brief introduction to classical ethology, and then develops a series of example animal model systems. Both invertebrate and vertebrate models are considered although there is a bias towards the latter. Many of these are “champion” species. There is a heavier demand for reading original data papers than typical in introductory graduate level courses. An integral part of the course is a series of assignments where you develop grant proposals describing novel science experiments in the animal models, thereby challenging your knowledge of the material and teaching aspects of scientific writing. In recent years there has been more computational material presented. The course is not available to undergraduates without prior approval of the instructor. D. Margoliash, Spring.

PSYC 40450-40451-404522. Topics in Cognition I-II-III. Broadly speaking, this workshop will address fundamental topics in cognitive psychology such as attention, memory, learning, problem solving, and language. One unique aspect of this workshop is that we will not only explore topics central to the study of cognition, but we will also explore how the study of cognitive psychology can be used to enhance human potential and performance in a variety of contexts. These contexts range from an exploration of optimal teaching practices to enhance the acquisition of mathematical knowledge in the classroom, to issues regarding how individuals communicate best to foster the optimal exchange of information in, for instance, medical settings, to the optimal strategies older adults can use to help stave off the deleterious effects of aging on cognitive functioning and the performance of everyday activities. TBD, Autumn, Winter, Spring.

40500. Advanced Seminar in Developmental Psychology. This is an introductory course for graduate students in developmental psychology. Topics in biological, perceptual, cognitive, social, and language development will be covered. This course will satisfy one of Psychology graduate students’ core course requirements. S. Levine, A. Shaw, Spring.

PSYC 40851-40852-40853. Topics in Developmental Psychology I-II-III. Brown-bag discussion of current research in psychology. Autumn, A. Shaw; Winter, S. Levine; Spring, D. Yurovsky.

41660. Current Controversies in Cognition. Nature vs. nurture, conscious and unconscious processing, automaticity and controlled processing, separate or integrated STM and LTM, modularity, and bottom-up vs. top-down processing are some of the controversies that continue to be discussed in cognition research. We will read and discuss theory and evidence and consider how such controversies might be resolved empirically and theoretically. H. Nusbaum, Spring.

PSYC 42100. Trial Research Seminar. PSYC 42100 is required of first-year Psychology graduate students The purpose of this seminar is to assist students in formulating their trial research project. S. London, Spring.

PSYC 42270. Advanced Topics in Electrophysiology I.  Graduate Seminar: Basics of conducting EEG and ERP research EEG recordings are a popular and long-standing approach to gather information about human brain activity that are used to address questions in many areas of Psychology. In this seminar, we will cover many of the basics of conducting human EEG research, including basic principles of recordings (e.g., detection and removal of artifacts, baseline correction, filtering and averaging) along with basic analytical approaches to measuring EEG (e.g., calculating and measuring ERPs; time-frequency analyses, etc). We will also cover research that has utilized EEG signals from multiple research domains, with the aim of giving the student exposure to a wide swath of well characterized neural tools from the existing literature. Throughout the course, we will emphasize how best to design experiments that can yield robust and interpretable data and avoid the common pitfalls in using this powerful approach. E, Awh, E. Vogel. Autumn.

PSYC 42271-42272. Advanced Topics in Electrophysiology II-III.  E, Awh, E. Vogel. Winter, Spring.

43130. Stress and the Social Brain. This course explores the topic of social stress and its influence on behavior and neurobiology. The course will provide in-depth coverage of the psychophysiology of the stress response and how it is modulated across social contexts. The material in the course will be presented in a seminar-style format. The primary goal of the course is to provide students with a high-level understanding of the complexities associated with contemporary stress research from the perspective of social neuroscience and psychophysiology. G. Norman, Autumn

PSYC 43165. Homo Moralis: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Morality. The past decade has seen an explosion of empirical research in the study of morality.  Amongst the most exciting and novel findings and theories, evolutionary biologists and comparative psychologists have shown that moral cognition has evolved to facilitate cooperation and social interactions, and that certain precursors of morality are present in non-human animals.  Developmental psychologists came up with ingenious paradigms, demonstrating that the elements underpinning morality are in place much earlier than we thought.  Social neuroscientists have begun to map brain circuits implicated in social decision-making and identify the contribution of specific neuropeptides to moral sensitivity. Changes in the balance of brain chemistry, and in anatomical connectivity between specific regions can cause drastic changes in moral behavior.  The lesson from all this new knowledge is clear: human moral cognition and behavior cannot be separated from biology, its development, and evolutionary history.  As our understanding of the human brain improves, society at large, and justice and the law in particular, are and will be increasingly challenged. The intent of this class is to provide an overview of the current theories and research on morality, and examine this fascinating topic from a range of relevant interdisciplinary perspectives.  These perspectives include anthropology and philosophy, evolution, development, social neuroscience, psychopathology, and justice and the law.  J. Decety, Autumn.

PSYC 43600. Processes of Judgement and Decision Making. This course offers a survey of research on judgment and decision making, with emphasis placed on uncertainty and (intrapersonal) conflict. An historical approach is taken in which the roots of current research issues and practices are traced. Topics are drawn from the following areas: evaluation and choice when goals are in conflict and must be traded off, decision making when consequences of the decision are uncertain, predictive and evaluative judgments under conditions of uncertain, incomplete, conflicting, or otherwise fallible information. W. Goldstein, Autumn.

PSYC 48000. Proseminar in Psychology.  Required of first-year Department of Psychology graduate students. Department of Psychology faculty members present and discuss their research. This introduces new students to the range of research areas in the department. H. Nusbaum, Autumn.

PSYC 48001-48002-48003. Mind and Biology Proseminar I-II-III. Seminar series at the Institute for Mind and Biology meets three to four times per quarter. Sign up for three quarters; receive credit at the end of Spring Quarter. S. Shevell, Autumn, Winter, Spring.