Advanced Cognitive Psychology
Fall 2014; M 6:00-9:00 PM; COE 245

Instructor: Dr. William Langston
Office: JH 348
Phone: 898-5489 (office)
Office Hours: 12-1 T, 2:30-3:30 W, drop in anytime, calling first is a good idea, email for appointments.
[Texts] [Course Description] [Responsibilities] [Grading] [Policies] [Calendar] [Reading List]
Any cognitive psychology text (I may have some to lend). You may be able to get by with the readings if you've already had cognitive.

Readings are available via doi (digital object identifier) (see reading list below).

Course Description:
In this course we will explore what goes on in the “black box” between stimulus and response. Loosely speaking, we will start with getting information into your mind, and we will follow its progress from there. We will spend a fair amount of time discussing the problems associated with trying to observe unobservable mental functions.

The plan (for each meeting):
1.  Discuss the previous week's readings (related to the previous week's lecture topic). This part will commence with week 2. You will get to lead these discussions.

2.  I discuss the current topic (a general overview) to prepare for the readings (discussed in the following week).

1. What is cognitive psychology (an overview of the areas and concerns)? What are the ways in which the information processing paradigm accurately describes what we do, and in what ways is it limiting?

2. How does science work (obviously, applied to psychology)? We'll look at a variety of articles and responses to see how data turn into ideas about cognition.

3. How does cognitive psychology fit into the discipline of psychology? We will focus primarily on social psychology due to its close connection (the social context surrounding cognition has been elevated to a unit on its own). Overall, I have made an effort to bridge the different units within cognitive psychology (by picking articles that can't easily be classifed as one or the other). I've also chosen articles that connect to areas outside of cognitive when possible. The idea is to make sure we evaluate cognitive functioning in the context of the entire person.

4. How is cognitive psychology applied? What are the implications of research into attention, thinking, working memory, etc. for life? In addition to the connection to areas highlighted by social psychology, we will also look at educational implications.

5. Recent trends/latest data. Embodiment, the importance of executive functioning. Emphasis on the word recent.
1.  Exams: Exams in this class are an opportunity for you to have some fun and interact with the material. I will ask you to apply the core readings to problems or I will ask you to build bridges and make connections. We will have two exams spaced evenly throughout the semester. These will be take-home exams. Exams are worth 100 points each.
2.  Optional final: You will have the option of completing a final exam. This exam has the same format as the other exams, but it will incorporate material from your presentations. The final will also be take-home. The final is worth 100 points.
3.  Weekly Reaction Reports (WRRs): During the semester you will write at least 5 reports on topics that we are covering. These may be based on the assigned readings. Note that these are reaction reports, meaning that you are expected to critically evaluate the material being discussed, not write a book report. These reports give you an opportunity to talk back to the material, and to take some time to think about issues that come up in a more formal context. These reports are meant to assist you in making the transition from a consumer of information to a producer of it. It is in your best interest to turn in reaction papers as we go along, so you should plan on turning in only one per week (the paper doesn't have to "go with" the material being covered in a given week). Also, you should plan to complete your WRRs before the end of the semester so that we have a chance to discuss your ideas. WRRs may not exceed one typed, double-spaced page in length. WRRs are worth 10 pts. each. If you write more than 5, additional scores may be counted as extra credit. A brief presentation on a topic may be substituted for a WRR. Information on WRRs is available on the Advanced Cognitive Psychology page.
4.  Presentation: You will have the opportunity to present a research design to the class at the end of the semester. The presentation is worth 50 pts. Ideally, this will be the description of a study you've designed (inspired by the course), and it could translate into a thesis or an actual research project. Again, as you make the transition from a consumer of information to a producer of information, you need opportunities to practice research design and opportunities to present those ideas to interested colleagues for feedback and discussion.

5.  Participation: This class is a seminar. Our conversations about the material are the class. So, it is important that you take advantage of the opportunity to participate. The activities that go into this portion include reading the assigned material, leading discussions, making contributions, and asking questions of other presenters. This component is worth 50 pts.
Assignments: Description: Points:
2 @ 100 each

5 @ 10 each


Grading scale: >405 = A; >392 = B+; >374 = B; >360 = B-; >346 = C+; >328 = C; >315 = C-; >302 = D+; >284 = D; >270 = D-; >0 = F (choose the highest for which you qualify).

(If you choose to make the final optional, take your total out of 350 points.)
1.  Attendance: In order to derive the maximum benefit from this course, you need to attend the class meetings. At times, you may have a problem making it to a class. In that case, please let me know that you will miss and we can make arrangements at that time. I will pass around a sign-up sheet every week.
2.  Late policy: Please complete assignments on time. I have scheduled due dates in my courses to be staggered so that I can return grades in a timely manner. Please help me to keep the promise in number 3 below by turning in your assignments when they are due.
3.  Grading guarantee (my late policy): Exams will be returned within one week of the exam date. Bonus points will be awarded at the rate of five points per incomplete exam per day until they are graded. Bonus points will be divided equally amongst all students with perfect attendance.
4.  Missed exams: If you know in advance, please notify me to make arrangements. I will work with you to reschedule if you are forced to miss.
5.  Course notes are available on the web at These notes explain my rationale for choosing each article and what I am hoping to get out of it. For background, check the notes for the regular cognitive course at The powerpoints in that course are the most up-to-date notes.
6.  Drop deadlines: The last day to drop without a grade is September 7. The last day to drop is October 29 (you will receive some sort of grade). If you stay in the class after October 29, you will not be able to drop unless you experience a major tragedy or emergency. I am not the person who makes that determination. Incompletes will only be given if you have successfully completed the majority of the coursework and were prevented from finishing by a major tragedy or emergency.
7.  Any student engaging in any form of academic misconduct will lose credit for the relevant assignment and will be subjected to the appropriate university proceedings.
8.  If you experience problems in the course, see me. You’re welcome in my office anytime.
9.  Reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities:  If you require assistance or accommodation (e.g., testing, note-taking, etc.), or you have questions related to such accommodations, speak to me as soon as possible.  Also, the Disability and Access Center (898-2783) can provide information about such accommodations. Additional information is here:
Meeting:  Topic: Notes:
Background/What is the cognitive psychology paradigm?
H O L I D A Y Monday, 9/1

Pattern recognition/Perception/Imagery
Working memory
Long term memory
Exam 1
Memory applications
F A L L  B R E A K Monday, 10/13

The social context
Reasoning and problem solving
Exam 2

Your presentations

Your presentations

12/8 Final exam -- Monday, 12/8, due by 9:00 PM
Please note: Some due dates and topics may shift to later dates. In no event will due dates be moved to an earlier date. We may not stick entirely to this schedule if interesting diversions come up along the way.
Reading List:
How to get the readings:

1. Most of the articles below are paired with a doi (digital object identifier). Clicking on the doi will link you to the article and allow you to download its pdf. Many of these articles will require payment to download unless you access them from MTSU. All of the articles with doi's below are free on campus through MTSU's subscriptions. Theoretically, the links on the doi's will take you to the article directly without any copying and pasting. (Note: You can also type dois into The doi system is sometimes busy and you will get an error message for a doi that will work later. You might want to download articles a little ahead of when you need them in case you have problems.)

2. If you click a doi and are asked to pay for a pdf, go to the library's website and look up the article in the PsycInfo database. The full text feature there will link you to the pdf for free.

3. Some articles might be on eReserve at the library. For those, go to the course reserves and search this class.

4. Some articles are available from direct links.

If you have problems accessing any articles, please let me know ASAP.

Unit 1: Background/What is the cognitive psychoogy paradigm?

  1. Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, G. E. (2013). NASA faked the moon landing--Therefore, (climate) science is a hoax: An anatomy of the motivated rejection of science. Psychological Science, 24, 622-633. doi:10.1177/0956797612457686
  2. Zwaan, R. A., & Yaxley, R. H. (2003). Spatial iconicity affects semantic relatedness judgments. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 10, 954-958. doi: 10.3758/BF03196557
  3. Louwerse, M. M., & Jeuniaux, P. (2010). The linguistic and embodied nature of conceptual processing. Cognition, 114, 96-104. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2009.09.002
  4. Hubbard, T., Magne, C., Langston, W., &  Shields, E. (2013, November). Spatial configuration of vertically related word pairs modulates the N400 component of ERPs. Poster presented at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Unit 2: Pattern recognition/Perception/Imagery

  1. Dunning, D., & Balcetis, E. (2013). Wishful seeing: How preferences shape visual perception. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 33-37. doi:10.1177/0963721412463693
  2. Becker, M. W. (2009). Panic search: Fear produces efficient visual search for nonthreatening objects. Psychological Science, 20, 435-437. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02303.x
  3. Cole, G. G., & Wilkins, A. J. (2013). Fear of holes. Psychological Science, 24, 1980-1985. doi: 10.1177/0956797613484937
  4. Sim, J. J., Correll, J., & Sadler, M. S. (2013). Understanding police and expert performance: When training attenuates (vs. exacerbates) stereotypic bias in the decision to shoot. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 291-304. doi:10.1177/0146167212473157
  5. DeLucia, P. R. (2013). Effects of size on collision perception and implications for perceptual theory and transportation safety. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 199-204. doi:10.1177/0963721412471679
Unit 3: Attention
  1. Kunar, M. A., Carter, R., Cohen, M., & Horowitz, T. S. (2008). Telephone conversation impairs sustained visual attention via a central bottleneck. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15, 1135-1140. doi:10.3758/PBR.15.6.1135
  2. Wolfe, J. M., Horowitz, T. S., & Kenner, N. M. (2005). Rare items often missed in visual searches. Nature, 435, 439-440.
  3. Wolfe, J. M., Horowitz, T. S., Van Wert, M. J., Kenner, N. M., Place, S. S., & Kibbi, N. (2007). Low target prevalence is a stubborn source of errors in visual search tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136, 623-638. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.136.4.623
  4. Eastwood, J. D., Frischen, A., Fenske, M. J., & Smilek, D. (2012). The unengaged mind: Defining boredom in terms of attention. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 482-495. doi:10.1177/1745691612456044
Unit 4: Working memory
  1. Logie, R. H. (2011). The functional organization and capacity limits of working memory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20, 240-245. doi:10.1177/0963721411415340
  2. Morrison, A. B., & Chein, J. M. (2011). Does working memory training work? The promise and challenges of enhancing cognition by training working memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 46-60. doi:10.3758/s13423-010-0034-0
  3. Harrison, T. L., Shipstead, Z., Hicks, K. L., Hambrick, D. Z., Redick, T. S., & Engle, R. W. (2013). Working memory training may increase working memory capacity but not fluid intelligence. Psychological Science, 24, 2409-2419. doi: 10.1177/0956797613492984
  4. Ashcraft, M. H., & Krause, J. A. (2007). Working memory, math performance, and math anxiety. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 243-248. doi:10.3758/BF03194059

Unit 5: Long term memory

  1. Cepeda, N. J., Vul, E., Rohrer, D., Wixted, J. T., & Pashler, H. (2008). Spacing effects in learning: A temporal ridgeline of optimal retention. Psychological Science, 19, 1095-1102. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02209.x
  2. Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, H. L. (2008). The critical importance of retrieval for learning. Science, 319, 966-968. doi:10.1126/science.1152408
  3. Patihis, L., Ho, L. Y., Tingen, I. W., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Loftus, E. F. (2014). Are the "memory wars" over? A scientist-practitioner gap in beliefs about repressed memory. Psychological Science, 25, 519-530. doi: 10.1177/0956797613510718
  4. Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological Science, 25, 1159-1168. doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581

Unit 6: Memory applications

  1. Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students' learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14, 4-58.
  2. Roediger, H. L., III, & Pyc, M. A. (2012). Inexpensive techniques to improve education: Applying cognitive psychology to enhance educational practice. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 242-248. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.09.002
  3. Mayer, R. E. (2012). Advances in applying the science of learning to education: An historical perspective. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 249-250. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.10.001
  4. Daniel, D. B. (2012). Promising principles: Translating the science of learning to educational practice. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 251-253. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.10.004
  5. Dunlosky, J., & Rawson, K. A. (2012). Despite their promise, there's still a lot to learn about techniques that support durable learning. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 254-256. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.10.003
  6. Kornell, N., Rabelo, V. C., & Klein, P. J. (2012). Tests enhance learning--Compared to what? Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 257-259. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.10.002
  7. Pellegrino, J. W. (2012). From cognitive principles to instructional practices: The devil is often in the details. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 260-262. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.10.005
  8. Roediger, H. L., III, & Pyc, M. A. (2012). Applying cognitive psychology to education: Complexities and prospects. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 263-265. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.10.006

Unit 7: Cognition

  1. Park, J., & Brannon, E. M. (2013). Training the approximate number system improves math proficiency. Psychological Science, 24, 2013-2019. doi: 10.1177/0956797613482944
  2. Gobel, S. M., Watson, S. E., Lervag, A., & Hulme, C. (2014). Children's arithmetic development: It is number knowledge, not the approximate number sense, that counts. Psychological Science, 25, 789-798. doi: 10.1177/0956797613516471
  3. Beilock, S. L., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2010). Gesture changes thought by grounding it in action. Psychological Science, 21, 1605-1610. doi:10.1177/0956797610385353
  4. Novack, M. A., Congdon, E. L., Hemani-Lopez, N., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2014). From action to abstraction: Using the hands to learn math. Psychological Science, 25, 903-910. doi: 10.1177/0956797613518351
  5. Uttal, D. H., Miller, D. I., & Newcombe, N. S. (2013). Exploring and enhancing spatial thinking: Links to achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 367-373. doi: 10.1177/0963721413484756
Unit 8: Language
  1. Ziegler, J. C., et al. (2010). Orthographic depth and its impact on universal predictors of reading: A cross-language investigation. Psychological Science, 21, 551-559. doi:10.1177/0956797610363406
  2. Goksun, T., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2010). Trading spaces: Carving up events for learning language. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 33-42. doi:10.1177/1745691609356783
  3. Gygax, P., Gabriel, U., Sarrasin, O., Oakhill, J., & Garnham, A. (2008). Generically intended, but specifically interpreted: When beauticians, musicians, and mechanics are all men. Language and Cognitive Processes, 23, 464-485. doi:10.1080/01690960701702035
Unit 9: The social context
  1. Taylor, V. J., & Walton, G. M. (2011). Stereotype threat undermines academic learning. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 1055-1067. doi:10.1177/0146167211406506
  2. Sbarra, D. A. (2014). New ideas on intellectual ability, interests, sex differences, and achievement: Three "integrative" commentaries on four target articles. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9 209-210. doi: 10.1177/1745691614523137
  3. Schmidt, F. L. (2014). A general theoretical integrative model of individual differences in interests, abilities, personality traits, and academic and occupational achievement: A commentrary on four recent articles. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9, 211-218. doi: 10.1177/1745691613518074
  4. Valla, J. M., & Ceci, S. J. (2014). Breadth-based models of women's underrepresentation in STEM fields: An integrative commentary on Schmidt (2011) and Nye et al. (2012). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9, 219-224. doi: 10.1177/1745691614522067
  5. Valian, V. (2014). Interests, gender, and science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9, 225-230. doi: 10.1177/1745691613519109
Unit 10: Reasoning and problem solving
  1. Alibali, M. W., Spencer, R. C., Knox, L., & Kita, S. (2011). Spontaneous gestures influence strategy choices in problem solving. Psychological Science, 22, 1138-1144. doi:10.1177/0956797611417722
  2. Stanovich, K. E., West, R. F., & Toplak, M. E. (2013). Myside bias, rational thinking, and intelligence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 259-264. doi:10.1177/0963721413480174
  3. Joslyn, S., & LeClerc, J. (2013). Decisions with uncertainty: The glass half full. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 308-315. doi:10.1177/0963721413481473
  4. Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U. K. H., Seifert, C. M., Schwarz, N., & Cook, J. (2012). Misinformation and its correction: Continued influence and successful debiasing. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13, 106-131.

Advanced Cognitive Psychology Syllabus
Will Langston
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