Psychology 315: Cognitive Psychology

Spring, 2009

Mon, Wed, Fri, 11:15-12:05
Herter 231


Instructor: Kyle Cave

office: 432 Tobin
phone: 5-2787
office hours: Wed 2:00-3:00 pm
or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Hanna King

office: Tobin 537
office hours: Mon 4:30-5:30 p.m.
or by appointment

(This page last updated 14 May, 2009.)

The first half of the final exam will cover the material presented since Exam 3. That includes chapters 11-13 and 15 from the textbook. You should be familiar with the material in those chapters, but we have covered these topics rather quickly, and so there will be fewer questions from those readings and they will be less in-depth. When distributing your study time across the different chapters, you should probably give relatively less time to these final chapters.

This course will cover the study of human cognition. We will start with the computational foundations of Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science. Then we will work our way up from lower-level perceptual aspects of cognition, such as vision and object recognition, through a discussion of memory, and then on to higher-level cognitive abilities including language and decision making. At the end we will discuss the philosophical questions that underlie consciousness.


The textbook for this course is Cognition by Daniel Reisberg. Be sure to get the Third Edition (ISBN 0-393-92542-0) or the Third Media Edition (ISBN 978-0-393-93054-2). It is available at the Textbook Annex. If you buy a new copy of the textbook, it comes with a set of online experimental demonstrations called "ZAPS". The online demonstrations are not required for the class, but can be used for extra credit. You can also receive extra credit for participating in experiments, as explained below. A copy of the textbook is also on reserve in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library.

Other readings may be added later.


Below is a schedule showing the topic, and readings from the textbook for each class. Be sure that you have completed the readings before class, so that you can understand the material presented during class and can participate in the discussion. If you are confused about any part of the reading, try to formulate questions and ask them at the beginning of class.






Jan 26

History of Cognitive Psychology


Jan 28

Information Processing

chapter 1


Jan 30

Information Processing continued


Feb 2


chapter 2


Feb 4

Neuroscience continued


Feb 6

Neuroscience continued


Feb 9

The Visual System

chapter 3


Feb 11

The Visual System continued


Feb 13

The Visual System continued

Feb 16



Feb 18

Word Recognition


Feb 20

exam 1


Feb 23

Object Recognition


Feb 25


chapter 4


Feb 27

Attention to Locations and Objects


Mar 2

Visual Search and Automaticity


Mar 4



Mar 6

Visual Awareness


Mar 9

The Modal Model of Memory

chapter 5


Mar 11

Working Memory


Mar 13

Getting Into Long Term Memory

chapter 6

***Spring Break ***


Mar 23

Getting Back Out of Long Term Memory


Mar 25

exam 2


Mar 27

Implicit Memory


Mar 30

Implicit Memory continued


Apr 1



Apr 3

Remembering the Gist


Apr 6

Forgetting True Memories and Creating False Memories

chapter 7


Apr 8

False Memories continued


Apr 10

Network Models of Memory

chapter 8


Apr 13

Network Models continued


Apr 15


chapter 9


Apr 17

Prototype and Exemplar Theories

Apr 20



Apr 21

Tuesday: Concepts as Implicit Theories


Apr 22

exam 3


Apr 24


chapter 10


Apr 27



Apr 29

Language and the Brain


May 1

Visual Imagery

chapter 11


May 4

Imagery in the Brain


May 6

Availability and Representativeness

chapter 12


May 8


chapter 13


May 11


chapter 15

We may decide to change the schedule as the class progresses.


Communicating Outside of Class:

There is a World Wide Web site for this class with this syllabus, class notes, and other materials. The address for the Web site is at the bottom of this syllabus. There is also a Spark site for turning in papers and accessing grades.

The best way to contact the instructor and teaching assistant is through e-mail, using the address at the top of this syllabus, or to come by during office hours. You can also phone us at the numbers above.


Read this carefully. Ask us if there is any part you do not understand.

There will be three regular exams during the semester and a final exam at the end.

The exams will cover both material from class and material from the reading.

The exams may include multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching questions, along with short answer questions.

Each of the three regular exams will be devoted mainly to the most recent material that has been presented up to that point, but parts of Exams 2 and 3 will cover material from earlier in the course that may have also been covered on previous exams.

The final will have two parts. The first part will cover the last part of the course, and will be similar to the three regular exams. The second part will cover the entire course.

No make-up exams will be given.

The lowest exam score will be dropped. The two parts of the final will count as two separate scores. Thus, the three regular exams and the final will give you five different scores, and your grade will be based on the top four scores.

Repeat: No make-up exams will be given.


There will be one paper, with a maximum length of 1200 words. You can select the paper topic from this list of topics. Note that different topics are due on different dates throughout the semester. Be sure to read carefully the Guide to Writing the Paper before you begin. When the paper is done, turn it in electronically through Spark, which will route it through TurnItIn.

There may be other short assignments throughout the class. They could include your written thoughts and questions about one of the readings or a class discussion, other short written assignments, and perhaps an occasional short quiz. I may encourage you to discuss these assignments with other students (except, of course, the quizzes). However, unless I specifically say otherwise, the work you turn in for the assignments must be entirely your own.


Extra Credit:

By participating in experiments done within the Psychology Department, you can learn first hand how experimental psychology is done, you can contribute to the advancement of the field, and you can improve your grade through extra credit.

You can sign up to participate in experiments at

You will receive one credit for each half-hour of experimental participation. Each credit will add one-half of one percent to your total number of points.

If you sign up to participate in an experiment and do not show up, you lose one credit for each credit you would have received.

The total amount of extra credit you can receive is 8 credits, which will take 4 hours, and will add 4% to your point total.

If you purchase a new copy of the textbook with access to the online experiment demonstrations (ZAPS), then you can also earn extra credit by writing a report for each of the experimental demonstrations that you complete.

Each report should be at least 350 words, and must be well written to receive credit.

If you complete a ZAPS experimental demonstration and write a satisfactory report, one-third of one percent will be added to your total number of points.

Choose your topics from this list.

Here are the limits on extra credit, whether it is earned by participating in Psychology Department experiments or writing reports on ZAPS experimental demonstrations.

The maximum extra credit that you can receive is 4% of the total possible points.

All extra credit must be completed by May 4.

Extra credit cannot make a failing grade into a passing grade.

Academic Honesty:

All students are expected to adhere scrupulously to the University policy concerning academic honesty.  If you fail to follow these rules, you could receive a failing grade for the class and be reported to the Academic Honesty Office. For more information on the University's academic honesty policy, check this web site:

Also, this website from Indiana University provides examples to help you understand how to avoid plagiarism.


Course grade:

The paper and any other assignments will make up 10% of the course grade. The rest of the grade will be made up of the four exam scores after the lowest score is dropped. See above under "Exams" for details.

Extra credit is available through experimental participation. See above.


An updated version of syllabus is available on the World Wide Web at:

Psych 315: Cognitive Psychology Kyle Cave Psychology Dept. U. Mass.