Psychology 105: Cognitive Psychology Syllabus Draft

Tu/Th 9:30-10:50, Peterson 108 Hrs: TuTh 2:10 – 3:30 p.m. Mandeville Coffee Cart And by appointment

Prof. David H. Peterzell, Ph.D., Ph.D.

Office: 2580 Mandler Hall (rarely here) Email: Use WebCT e-mail or post nonconfidential questions on the WebCT discussion board. For emergencies:

Grad T.A. Liz Schotter, M.A. (Psycholinguistics, Eye-tracking)

Office: Mandler 3572

Email: Email: Hrs: TBD

Miranda Scolari, M.A. (Feature-based Office: TBD attention, individual differences)

Textbook (Required): Cognitive Psychology (4th edition), by Medin, Ross, & Markman $135 new, $101 used in the UCSD bookstore. ($97 new, $70.00 used on,

Class Websites: (1) UCSD’s WEBCT This site will provide Powerpoint presentations, discussion boards, grades, a place to write us or your classmates, a place to provide feedback, and more. This is a great place to ask general questions and have them answered quickly. (2) Student Website for the textbook, Cognitive Psychology. This site provides optional readings, demonstrations, and sample questions that demonstrate key points from the lecture and textbook.

Course overview: Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of mental processes. The topic covers a wide variety of research areas -- from attention and perception to problem solving and creativity -- and we will touch on most of them. In addition to providing broad exposure to the study of cognition, the course aims to help students appreciate how the cognitive system solves seemingly impossible problems with apparent ease through adaptation to the natural environment. Cognitive psychology integrates knowledge from psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy, computer science, anthropology, and more. The content of this course overlaps considerably with the content of more basic Psyc 3 (General Psychology: Cognitive foundations). This course is designed to cover relevant topics that are likely to appear on the GRE Psychology exam. Exams: There are 3 multiple-choice exams. Each exam consists of 60+ questions/points. Each exam is worth a maximum of 60 points. Exams are non-cumulative. All exams cover lectures and reading. Expect up to 30% of the questions to cover reading/website material not covered in lecture. You MUST show up on time to exams. Anyone who misses an exam receives zero points for that exam. The only exception is if you notify us as soon as possible and a valid excuse is verified, in which case the makeup exam may consist entirely of essay questions. During exams, take only one copy of the test questions. Turn this copy in at the front of class before you leave. Do not take copies of the exam with you. Do not discuss the contents of any exam with students who have not yet taken it, or who are not enrolled in the class. The USCD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship can be found online: Sample Questions:
a. there are too many possibilities available. b. there are too few good possibilities available. c. there is no way to distinguish among possibilities. d. more than one accurate possibility is always available.


Computational complexity presents a problem in every area of cognition because in each area


On the first day of class, Dr. Peterzell provided an example in which a neuroscientist studied an old radio by pulling out a transistor, which caused the radio to make a humming noise. He suggested that




this demonstrates how we can successfully infer the function of brain regions based on brain damage this demonstrates the concept of “computational complexity” this demonstrates a problem with inferring the function of brain regions from the results of brain damage this demonstrates why modern brain imaging methods are superior to older brain lesioning (ablation) methods.

Grading: Your final grade will be determined by simply adding up your 3 test scores and seeing where you stand relative to others. In general, I will use a curve to determine your grade. The mean total score will be a B-. Roughly, the top 10% will receive an A, the next 10% an A-, the next 40% will receive some sort of B, and many of the rest will receive some sort of C. These percentages do not take into account extra credit.

Grading safety net: Additionally, I include the following grade cutoffs to protect you in the event of a high class average: If you get 100% on the 3 exams (180+), you will receive an A+ (and extra credit won't help you here! I rarely give A+'s). A = 93.33% (168); A- = 90.00% (162); B+ = 86.66% (156); B = 83.33% (150); B- = 80.00% (144); C+ = 76.66% (138); C = 73.33% (132); C- = 70.00% (126); D+ = 66.66% (120) (Can't use EC here; see below); D = 63.33 (114); D- = 60% (108). Examples of final curves/grades from some of my recent classes: Psyc 102 and 105 (before adding in extra credit)

Example – grade histogram from Peterzell’s UCSD Psych 102 class, Spring ‘06

Examples – grade histograms from Peterzell’s UCSD two previous Psych 105 classes Extra credit: You can earn extra credit by participating in UCSD psychology experiments advertised on the Web (see class handout). You will earn 2 points for each hour of credit, 6 points maximum. Failing to show up for an experiment you signed up for will cost you credit. Your final grade must be at least a C- to receive the credit. Completing the extra credit gives you a good chance of moving up 1/3 of a grade (e.g., from a B+ to an A-). The link for scheduling experiments is: Problems or questions? Contact Psychology Student Services Office, 1553 Mandler Hall

Adding the Course: Enrollment is limited to 300 students. To find out if the course is or is not full, contact Psychology Student Services Office, 1553 Mandler Hall. Special Needs: Students with documentable special needs should contact the instructor or one of the TAs by the end of the first lecture. Waiting longer is not appropriate, and documentation needs to be provided prior to exam time. Documentation must come from an appropriate professional. Required accommodations will be made for these students, as required by law. Schedule and Assignments: The exam dates are not subject to change. The dates that topics are presented may vary somewhat. Some portions of each chapter will not be required reading. I will post lists on WebCT regarding sections that are not required reading.
Wee k 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Date Tu Mar 31 Th April 2 Tu Apr 7 Th Apr 9 Tu Apr 14 Th Apr 16 Tu Apr 21 Th Apr 23 Tu Apr 28 Th Apr 30 Tu May 5 Th May 7 Tu May 12 Th Fr Tu Th May 14 May 15 May 19 May 21 Topic Introduction Learning Perception Attention Memory I Memory II Miscellaneous Exam 1 Memory III Memory IV Imagery Categorization I (guest) Language (guest) Sun God Festival Exam 2 Decision Making Brain & Cognition Problem Solving Creativity Culture & Cognition 7 8 10 9 Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6

8 9 10

Tu May 26 Th May 28 Tu Jun 2 Th Jun 4

14 (not in book) 12 13 (not in book)


We Jun 8

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