Spring 2005 - Psych 3234 (Cognitive Processes) - Dr. Burton

Kozlowski 350 - T, R 1-2:40

Office Hours: M 10-12, R 3:00-4:30 or by appointment

Office: Fahy 118 - Office Phone: 7947

e-mail: burtongr@shu.edu

 There will be three exams, to be held February 8th, March 17th and the final exam.  The final exam will not be cumulative.  The Final Exam is scheduled for 8:45 A.M. on May 4th.  This is relatively late in exam week; please note that I do not waive the final and the final cannot be rescheduled for reasons of travel, so make any travel plans accordingly.

There are two other sources of the grade.  There will be 12 lab assignments during the course of the semester, each worth 10 points (reduced by one point for each class day late).  The labs should always be word-processed.  The combined score of the best 10 assignments will be treated as a fourth quiz grade.  Explanations for the first few assign­ments are enclosed with this syllabus.  The credit for any "shared" labs will be divided among the students turning it in.

Finally, there is a score for class participation.  Each student is expected to be ready to discuss assigned readings.  As I will explain, each student will also be required to serve as "discussion leader" at least twice.  Read the article by Wade, Garry, Read and Lindsay (2002) for the discussion portion of our next class.

There is no specific grade for attendance, but attendance at each class is very highly recommended.  In particular, please take care to be on time for each class.  Clas­ses may begin with computer demonstrations or lab assignments, and students who arrive more than five minutes after the other students have started will not be permit­ted to start; if the program is part of a lab that lab will have to be made up later.

There are two required texts:

Anderson, J. R. (2006). Cognitive Psychology and its implications, (6th Ed.)  San Francisco: Freeman. (JRA).

Fouts, R. & Mills, S. T. (1997). Next of kin: My conversations with chimpanzees.  New York: Avon.

 and assigned readings on reserve at the Circulation desk of the library or on e-reserve. 


            1. Introduction to current research and theory on human cognition.  In particular we will discuss major issues related to human memory, attention, language, and reasoning.  You should understand where cognitive psychology fits within the history of psychology.  You should also be aware of the opinions of those who are critical of the study of mental activity.

            2. Improvement of thinking and reasoning skills.  That is, you should be able to apply your knowledge of cognitive psychology to help you develop better study, reasoning, and problem solving skills.

            3. Understanding of the main research methodologies used by cognitive psychologists.  This understanding should include knowledge of the usefulness, as well as the limitations, of the popular methodologies used in cognitive psychology.

The course will follow roughly the same order as the Anderson textbook with some additional topics not covered by Anderson and some Anderson topics not really tackled in depth. 

By the end of the course, you should be able to explain the justification for the following conclusions of contemporary cognitive research:


1. Behavior is not caused by conscious decisions alone, and every person is morally responsible for understanding what does influence their behavior.

            Read: JRA 1, Wade, et al. reading Lab: Madiga, Sternb

2. Humans tend not to make decisions rationally.

            Read: JRA 10                                                Lab: Connel

3. The brain is a network, not a file cabinet, and concentrations are fluid and relative.

            Read: JRA 2                                                  Lab: Simon

4. Explaining that consciousness is not necessary does not explain consciousness.

            Read: JRA 3, Fouts 1-2                               Lab: Erikse

5. Some memory is stored as images; imagery is not merely the format of presentation.

            Read: JRA 4                                                  Lab: Cooper

6. Memory is more like paths through a jungle than a production line

            Read: JRA 5                                                  Lab: Bransf

7. Memory is a by-product of processing; the harder the brain works, the stronger the memory.                                                                   Lab: Ebbing

            Read: JRA 6             

8. Humans show habits of memory, called schemas.      

            Read: JRA 7                                                  Lab: Tulvin

9. Memory for procedures and actions seems to store as little as possible.


10. There is no substitute for experience in reaching expert status, not even genius.

            Read: JRA 8, 9, Fouts 3                               Lab: Chaser

11. Language is not learned like riding a bike is learned.

            Read: JRA 11, Fouts 4                                 Lab: Gossip

12. There is no such thing as Language.

            Read: JRA 12, Fouts 5, 8

13. Animals still form concepts better than computers do.

            Read: Fouts 12                                             Lab: Luchin

14. There is no such thing as Intelligence.

            Read: JRA 13, Fouts 6, 7

15. Artificial Intelligence has failed to capture human intelligence.

            Read: Poe                                                     Lab: Places