Departmental Courses

PSYC 30401. Psycholinguistics: Language Processing. (LING 30401). This is an advanced introduction to the field of psycholinguistics. We will do an in-depth overview of both the empirical findings and the methodologies used on various topics in language comprehension/production, including areas of speech perception, lexical processing, syntactic parsing, and semantic/pragmatic processing. Models at both the computational and the mechanistic levels will also be examined. M. Xiang, Autumn.

PSYC 31661. Current Controversies in Psychological Science. Is there a unique crisis in the replicability of psychological research?  Are findings in social psychology particularly at risk? Are findings in cognitive neuroscience also being questioned? If so, why? This is the most recent controversy in psychological science which we will discuss along with the question of whether there are psychological traits, how we can understand evolution in psychological science, the role of experience vs. biological endowment and what this contrast means, whether there are fixed limits to working memory capacity and whether training can change these, how exposure to violence affects affective responses and aggressive behavior.  We will read and discuss theory and evidence about ongoing and recent controversies in psychological science and consider how such controversies might be resolved. H. Nusbaum, Spring.

PSYC 32750. Advanced Topics in Chronobiology and Behavior. This seminar will explore the mechanisms by which circadian clocks influence the development and adult functioning of the brain to generate adaptive changes in behavior. In addition to being immersed in theoretical aspects of chronobiology, students will be trained in critical reading of primary research literature, the construction of testable hypotheses, and designing experiments to test these hypotheses. In addition to participating in weekly discussions, course members will survey the literature to determine how circadian issues affect how research is conducted across disciplines. B. Prendergast, 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 33165. 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, Winter.

PSYC 34060. Understanding Practical Wisdom. Thinking about the nature of wisdom goes back to the Greek philosophers and the classical religious sages, but the concept of wisdom has changed in many ways over the history of thought. While wisdom has received less scholarly attention in modern times, it has recently re-emerged in popular discourse with a growing recognition of its potential importance for addressing complex issues in many domains. But what is wisdom? It’s often used with a meaning more akin to "smart" or "clever." Is it just vast knowledge? This course will examine the nature of wisdom—how it has been defined in philosophy and psychological science, how its meaning has changed, and what its essential components might be. We will discuss how current philosophical and psychological theories conceptualize wisdom and consider whether, and how, wisdom can be studied scientifically; that is, can wisdom be measured and experimentally manipulated to illuminate its underlying mechanisms and understand its functions? Finally, we will explore how concepts of wisdom can be applied in business, education, medicine, the law, and in the course of our everyday lives. Readings will be drawn from a wide array of disciplines including philosophy, classics, history, psychology, behavioral economics, medicine, and public policy. The course will include lectures by philosophers and psychologists. This course is offered in association with the Chicago Moral Philosophy Project and the Good Life program (the Hyde Park Institute). H. Nusbaum, Spring.

PSYC 34133. Neuroscience of Seeing. (NSCI 2240). This course focuses on the neural basis of vision, in the context of the following two questions: 1. How does the brain transform visual stimuli into neuronal responses? 2. How does the brain use visual information to guide behavior? The course covers signal transformation throughout the visual pathway, from retina to thalamus to cortex, and includes biophysical, anatomical, and computational studies of the visual system, psychophysics, and quantitative models of visual processing. This course is designed as an advanced neuroscience course for undergraduate and graduate students. The students are expected to have a general background in neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. PQ: NSCI 20111 or BIOS 24110 or consent of instructor. W. Wei, J. Maunsell, M. Sherman, S. Shevell. Autumn

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, Winter.

PSYC 35201. Communication in Humans and Non-Humans. This seminar will compare communication in humans and non-humans. Topics to be covered include the reliance of communication on more general cognitive processes, the learnability of communicative systems, referential intent, honest signaling, and deception. These issues will be explore through readings that cover recent work at the intersection of human and animal communcation. J. Mateo, Winter.

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 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.  Not offered 2020-21.

PSYC 37900. Experimental Design II.  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. PQ: PSYC 37300 (No substitutions) or permission of instructor. M. Berman, Autumn.

PSYC 38960. The Development of Communicative Competence. (=CHDV 38950). This course examines the emergence of communicative skills in humans. We will focus on how children glean information about language structure and language use from their home environments. We will also discuss the proposed cognitive and evolutionary roots of communicative behaviors, with a focus on current gaps in our knowledge and possible pathways forward. The course will consider these issues from multiple perspectives including linguistics, psychology, and linguistic anthropology. We will also briefly cover a range of methods associated with these different areas of study. It is expected that, by the end of the course, you should be able to think and write critically about how human communication and human language are intertwined in both adults and children. M. Casillas, Spring.

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 40302. Topics in Psychology. This is a professional development course required for first-year Psychology PhD students. D. Gallo, Autumn, Winter, 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. M. Rosenberg, Autumn, Winter; TBD, Spring.

PSYC 40460. Computation and the Identification of Cultural Patterns. (MACS 40400). Culture is increasingly becoming digital, making it more and more necessary for those in both academia and industry to use computational strategies to effectively identify, understand, and (in the case of industry) capitalize on emerging cultural patterns. In this course, students will explore interdisciplinary approaches for defining and mobilizing the concept of “culture” in their computational analyses, drawing on relevant literature from the fields of Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology. Additionally, they will receive hands-on experience applying computational approaches to identify and analyze a wide range of cultural patterns using the Python programming language. For instance, students will learn to identify emerging social movements using social media data, predict the next fashion trends, and even decipher ancient symbols using archaeological databases. PQ: No previous coding experience required. A Python boot camp will be held at the beginning of the quarter to teach the coding skills necessary to succeed in the course. Open to Advanced Undergraduates with Instructor Permission. J. Clindaniel, Autumn.

PSYC 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. Not offered 2020-21.

PSYC 40851-40852-40853. Topics in Developmental Psychology I-II-III. Brown-bag discussion of current research in psychology. Autumn, A. Shaw; Winter, K. Kinzler; Spring, TBD.

PSYC 41115. Social Cognitive Development. Human beings inhabit a very complex social world and our mind has structures that enable us to navigate this complexity. Where do these concerns come from? Are we blank slates that passively absorb cues from our environment? If not, what early competencies enable us to learn? How do these competencies interact with our culture? To answer these questions, this class will cover literature from infants, toddlers, children, and adults to give a rich picture of what changes and remains constant across development. We will cover topics such as children’s understanding of intentions, theory of mind, communication, ownership, morality, and inter-group attitudes. A. Shaw, Spring.

PSYC 41210. Psychophysiology: Methods, Concepts and Applications. This course will provide an overview of the principles, theory, and applications of psychophysiological research. The course has two primary goals: 1) to provide an overview of major psychophysiological approaches and measures through discussion of contemporary research; 2) to provide an introduction to theory and research in major areas of human psychophysiology with specific applications to the study of cognition, affect, and health. G. Norman. Winter.


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 42350. Advanced Topics in Human Neuroimaging.  This course will discuss advanced topics in human neuroimaging, reviewing recent papers using state-of-the-art methods, including multi-voxel pattern analysis, Big Data, connectivity analyses, and inter-subject correlations. We will discuss how these new methods fit into the current landscape of human neuroscience and support new theoretical ideas, and also conduct tutorials so students can use these methods in their own analyses. Note: The course will be geared towards PhD students, but open to MAPSS students who receive instructor permission to enroll. W. Bainbridge, M. Rosenberg. Autumn.

PSYC 42570. Integrating the Real World onto Perception and Memory.  This seminar will cover the evolution of experimental paradigms in the psychology of perception and memory, from more artificial stimuli to more naturalistic stimuli. The course will focus on readings of papers utilizing new innovations in psychology to make research better mirror the real world. Topics will include virtual reality, movie-watching in neuroimaging, lifelogging, interactive fMRI, gesture recording, and multi-modal experiments to understand perception and memory. Discussions will also include broader meta-discussions about the pros and cons of these more complex, real-world paradigms. W. Bainbridge. Autumn.

PSYC 42650. Working Memory. This course will cover basic working memory theory, broadly defined, with a focus on neural models. E. Awh, Spring.

PSYC 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 43780. 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. Vogel. Spring.

PSYC 43850. Memory and Decision Making. What are the cognitive and neural mechanisms by which learning, memory, and decision making interact? In this seminar, we will review current theories that bridge learning and decision making, consider the strengths and weaknesses of the cognitive neuroscience tools used to test these theories, and discuss how memories of the past enable decisions for the future. A. Bakkour, Autumn

PSYC 45300. When Cultures Collide: Multiculturalism in Liberal Democracies. (=CHDV 45600, ANTH 45600, HMRT 35600, GNDR 45600) Coming to terms with diversity in an increasingly multicultural world has become one of the most pressing public policy projects for liberal democracies in the early 21st century.   One way to come to terms with diversity is to try to understand the scope and limits of toleration for variety at different national sites where immigration from foreign lands has complicated the cultural landscape.   This seminar examines a series of legal and moral questions about the proper response to norm conflict between mainstream populations and cultural minority groups (including old and new immigrants), with special reference to court cases that have arisen in the recent history of the United States. Note: Advanced undergraduates may enroll with permission of instructor. R. Shweder, Autumn.

PSYC 46050. Principles of Data Science and Engineering for Laboratory Research. The quantity of data gathered from laboratory experiments is constantly increasing. This course will explore the latest concepts, techniques and best-practice to create efficient data analysis pipelines. We will focus on the python ecosystem. By the end of the course, you are expected to be able to apply appropriate tools to streamline your own data analysis. PQ: Familiarity with coding in python. J. Yu. Winter.

PSYC 46662. Genes and Behavior. There are complex interactions between the genome and behavior. This course will examine how behavior can be understood by investigating the sequence and structure of genes, especially those expressed in the brain. It will consider behaviors in several species (including human), and present various molecular, genetic, and genomic approaches used to uncover how genes contribute to behavior and how behavior alters the genome. Seminar format, with student-led sessions based on primary literature readings, with class time to collectively clarify questions, delve deeper into mechanisms, and integrate to consider broader implications. PQ: Some familiarity with molecular biology and/or genomes is recommended. S. London. Winter.

PSYC 47001. Language in Culture. (ANTH 37201). Among topics discussed in the first half of the sequence are the formal structure of semiotic systems, the ethnographically crucial incorporation of linguistic forms into cultural systems, and the methods for empirical investigation of “functional” semiotic structure and history.  C. Nakassis, Autumn.

PSYC 47500. Survey Questionnaire Design. (PPHA 41800). The questionnaire has played a critical role in gathering data used to assist in making public policy, evaluating social programs, and testing theories about social behavior (among other uses). This course offers a systematic way to construct and evaluate questionnaires. We will learn to think about survey questions from the perspective of the respondent and in terms of cognitive and social tasks that underlie responding. We will examine the impact of questions on data quality and will review past and recent methodological research on questionnaire development. The course will help students to tell the difference between better and worse types of survey questions, find and evaluate existing questions on different topics, and construct and test questionnaires for their own needs. R. Bautista, Spring.

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. E. Awh, Autumn, Winter, Spring.