Please Enter a Search Term

Updated Course Descriptions

Fall 2014

4051.  Selected Topics in Development II.  TOPIC: Applied Developmental Psychology: Visual system development, plasticity, and clinical applications.  The first part of the course will review the development of the visual system with an emphasis on select visual functions including visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, stereopsis, vernier acuity, and refractive error. In addition, we will study both novel and well-established behavioural and electrophysiological techniques to measure these functions in infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. The second part of the course will focus on the plasticity of the visual system over the first several years of life. In particular, we will emphasize pediatric visual abnormalities and how they can lead to permanent deficits in select visual functions. Also, we will focus on new techniques to detect these early visual abnormalities before their effects become permanent.

A major aspect of the course is the student’s independent research on the clinical applications of developmental psychology. The area chosen (in consultation with the instructor) will focus on the causes, detection, and/or treatment of developmental disorders. The student will write a major paper on the topic selected and present a seminar to the class.

4070.  Research Experience in Developmental Psychology.  The course will be a practical introduction to research in child development and will cover all of the critical aspects of conducting real-life scientific research including the generation of research ideas, research methodology, data analysis, quantitative methods, ethical issues, critical analysis, proposal writing and formal written and oral presentation of research findings. The course will consist of lectures and discussion sessions supplemented with live research interactions with infants and young children in observational, and laboratory settings. These sessions will also form the basis of students’ written research lab projects (Labs 1, 2, and 3).

A major aspect of the course is the students’ independent research project on a topic selected from the field of developmental psychology. The students will write a major paper on the results of that research (Lab 4) and will present a seminar to the class during one of the final classes at the end of the semester.

4150. Selected Topics in Social Psychology. The goal of this course is to provide you with the critical thinking skills that will help you better understand psychology and events in the world in which you live. Specifically, this course will teach you how to evaluate pseudoscientific ideas (ideas that claim to be scientific when they are not) that appear in the popular media. Among the issues covered will be the cognitive, motivational, and social determinants of questionable beliefs such as psychic phenomena, health and nutrition quackery, extrasensory perception (ESP), subliminal perception and persuasion, "recovered memories" of child abuse, hypnosis, multiple personality disorder, graphology (handwriting analysis), palmistry (palm reading), bogus personality assessment, polygraph (lie detection), and controversial therapeutic techniques (e.g., facilitated communication, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing; psychoanalysis). You will be armed with a “Baloney Detection Kit” and taught to distinguish between scientific and pseudoscientific claims.

4250. Selected Topics in Learning. This course will examine selected topics in neurobiology of learning and memory, including the multiple memory systems perspective, the role of the hippocampus and medial temporal lobe in episodic memory, habit learning and the cortico-striatal system, and the neurobiology of fear memories. Students will read, present and discuss original theoretical and empirical articles on these topics. Evaluation will consist of in-class presentations and participation and a major research paper.

4500. Selected Topics in Psychology. The psychology of human mating systems: Are humans naturally monogamous?  Mating systems (e.g., monogamy, polygamy) are shaped by how evenly resources (wealth) are distributed and whether biparental care (care provided by two parents) increases offspring survival or quality relative to uniparental care. We will consider human mating systems from evolutionary, neuroscience, genetic, hormonal, developmental and social perspectives. Classes will involve a combination of discussion/lectures and student presentations of primary literature. Students will be evaluated on their oral and written presentations of journal articles, on their research papers and on their contributions to the discussions. We will use the book ‘Sex at Dawn’ to contrast popular press and scientific views of human mating systems.

4501. Selected Topics in Psychology II. The Psychology of Money and Financial Behaviour. Money is a critical aspect and motivator of human thought and human behavior. However, the human relationship with money and money-related objects (e.g., consumer possessions, monetary investments, real estate) is an understudied area within modern day psychology. This is very surprising given the central role that money plays in determining much of our behavior. For many people, the acquisition, investment, or the disposal (spending, giving) of money is the prime underlying motivator of much daily behavior and is associated with a host a human emotions, decision making processes, personality characteristics and behavioral attributes such as power, status, achievement, and self-esteem. It is also a central aspect of some forms of human psychopathology such as money related addictions (hoarding, spending), criminality, and excessive gambling. This multidisciplinary course will cover all aspects of human behavior (neurological, motivational, social, cognitive, personality and psychopathological) that interact with the intense human desire to obtain, retain, invest, and dispose of money and related possessions.

4650.  Selected Topics in Forensic Psychology.  This course is a broad overview of the relationship between clinical psychology and the criminal justice system. A wide range of topics will be discussed including violent risk assessment, criminal responsibility and fitness to stand trial, child custody evaluation, psychopathology and the criminal justice system, deception, eyewitness testimony, and expert witness testimony.

4870. Research Experience in Neuroscience.  This course will cover neuroscience research methods as they are applied in a systems neuroscience approach to understanding behavior. Several of the laboratory exercises are designed to increase the student’s understanding of neuroanatomy. These include sheep brain dissection, and cutting, staining, and examining sections of rat brain to identify major structures. Students will also use the web-based Allen mouse brain atlas to describe brain regions where particular genes are expressed. The focus will be on the neural and hormonal regulation of appetite and body weight. Students will be assigned readings from the research literature on this topic and will present summaries of this research to the class. In addition, an experiment will be conducted to measure the effect of the drug, rapamycin, on appetite and body weight regulation in rats. Students will weigh the rats and measure food intake. When the experiment is completed, a summary of the data they have collected will be given to the students, and each student will write a report describing these results in journal format.

 

Winter 2014

4051.  Multitasking and Cognitive Development.  In our fast-paced, electronic world multi-tasking has become the “new normal”. The pressure to process more information, solve more problems, deliver more results, and to do so faster and along with other activities is a growing expectation of children and adults alike. While the context for multitasking in toddlers and preschoolers is typically play, their use of various media types (e.g., computers, hand-held games, TV) is increasing. The growing requirement for multitasking has brought a debate in the media and among researchers. One view is that multitasking enables the high-level efficiency and productivity that are essential for successful competition in contemporary work and learning environments. The idea is that multitasking promotes mental flexibility that can actually change the way we learn and retain information, especially among children and youth whose neural plasticity is high. Others argue that multitasking degrades performance and produces interference, distraction, and ultimately errors, lost time, and mental stress. The reasoning is that because the human information processing system has a limited capacity, sharing resources among tasks usually comes at a cost for performance and productivity. The goal of this course is to provide a synthesis of that literature with emphasis on the increasing expectation for multitasking among young children and youth.

Course Material: There is no text book. A reading list will be provided at the beginning of the semester.

Course evaluation: Evaluation will be based on (1) class participation – questions, discussion, an assigned presentation (2) term paper (3) take-home final exam (4) book report. The value of each component is to be decided.

4070.  Research Experience in Developmental Psychology.  The course will be a practical introduction to research in child development, covering all of the critical aspects of conducting real-life scientific research including the generation of research ideas, research methodology, data analysis, quantitative methods, ethical issues, critical analysis, proposal writing and formal written and oral presentation of research findings. The course will consist of lecture and discussion sessions supplemented with live research interactions with infants, children and adults in observational, and laboratory settings. These sessions will also form the basis of students’ written research lab projects (Labs 1-4).

A major aspect of the course is the student’s independent research project (which can be conducted with a partner) on a topic selected from the field of developmental psychology. The student will write a major paper on the results of that research (Lab 5) and will present a short seminar to the class at the end of the semester.

4250. Selected Topics in Learning and Motivation. This course will provide students with an introduction to learning and motivation principals, procedures and issues in applied settings. There will be a particular focus on classical and operant learning theory including functional analysis of behavior. The format of the course will include both lectures and in-depth class discussions on learning based assessments and interventions.

4450. Selected Topics in Cognition.  In this course, students will examine metacognition: thinking about our own thinking. Can we predict how well we’ll remember something? How do we know when we need to keep studying for an exam, or when we’ve learned as much as we can? What information do we use to make judgments and predictions about our own cognition? Topics include: judgments of learning (JOLs), source memory and reality monitoring, eyewitness metacognition, metacognition in learning and education, the development of metacognition, and other related topics.

4470.  Research Experience in Cognition.  In this course, students will gain hands-on experience in research in cognitive psychology. The focus of the course is on human memory, with particular emphasis on study design, interpretation of data, and communicating results. We will cover methods for studying human memory, with a focus on levels of processing, the role of organization in memory, the production effect, survival processing, and other related issues in memory research. Students will work in groups to design an original experiment, test participants, analyze data, and interpret results.

4670.  Research Experience in Abnormal Psychology.  This course will provide research experience in the design, implementation, and evaluation of a single-case design study. Students will acquire experience with research methods that are used to advance the body of knowledge in clinical psychology.

4850.  Selected Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience. The focus of this course is on social and affective neuroscience; research aimed at understanding the neural mechanisms that mediate mammalian social and emotional behavior. The first part of the course will focus on affiliative behavior, e.g. mating and parental behavior. These are called affiliative because they bring animals together in mutually beneficial relationships. Questions include those about motivation, e.g. what are the conditions that lead animals to seek and maintain social contact? Social contacts may be brief, e.g. mating, but may lead to long-lasting attachments, as in species such as vole and human where mating leads to life-long pair-bonding. The second part of the course considers the nature of emotions and their neural mechanisms. Animal research laid the foundations for this field, but human brain imaging methods, e.g. fMRI have led to a recent rapid increase in studies directed at understanding the neural basis of human emotions. There is no textbook. Readings will include review papers and research reports.

Fall 2013

4051.  Selected Topics in Developmental Psychology.  The first part of the course will review the development of the visual system with an emphasis on select visual functions including visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, stereopsis, vernier acuity, and refractive error. In addition, we will study both novel and well-established behavioural and electrophysiological techniques to measure these functions in infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. The second part of the course will focus on the plasticity of the visual system over the first several years of life. In particular, we will emphasize pediatric visual abnormalities and how they can lead to permanent deficits in select visual functions. Also, we will focus on new techniques to detect these early visual abnormalities before their effects become permanent.

A major aspect of the course is the student’s independent research on the clinical applications of developmental psychology. The area chosen (in consultation with the instructor) will focus on the causes, detection, and/or treatment of developmental disorders. The student will write a major paper on the topic selected and present a seminar to the class.

4070.  Research Experience in Developmental Psychology.  The course will be a practical introduction to research in child development and will cover all of the critical aspects of conducting real-life scientific research including the generation of research ideas, research methodology, data analysis, quantitative methods, ethical issues, critical analysis, proposal writing and formal written and oral presentation of research findings. The course will consist of lectures and discussion sessions supplemented with live research interactions with infants and young children in day care, observational, and laboratory settings. These interactions will form the basis of a series of laboratory assignments.

4150.  Selected Topics in Social Psychology.  Psychology and The Law. This course will cover the relationship between psychology and the law. Forensic psychology research will be evaluated critically each week. Some topics include criminal and geographic profiling, deception detection, interrogations, cognitive interviewing, eyewitness testimony, jury decision-making, correctional psychology and treatment, and risk assessments. Students will be required to read and discuss peer-reviewed research, provide critical appraisals of the media coverage of various forensic psychological practices and experiments, update wikipedia entires, and engage in debates. A detailed course outline will be provided during the first day of class.

4170.  Research Experience in Social Psychology.  This course will cover some of the main methods that social psychologists use to gather data and test hypotheses. Advantages and disadvantages of each method will be discussed and illustrated with examples, mostly from the study of attitudes and social perception. Classes will be devoted to demonstrations of research techniques and methods of data analysis.

4452. Selected Topics in Cognition.  Reading.  A survey of the development of reading from the earliest stages of learning letter-sound associations to highly skilled reading. The cognitive weaknesses that accompany dyslexia and how they contribute to reading difficulties is also discussed.

4500. Selected Topics in Psychology. The psychology of human mating systems: Are humans naturally monogamous? Mating systems (e.g., monogamy, polygamy) are shaped by how evenly resources (wealth) are distributed and whether biparental care (care provided by two parents) increases offspring survival or quality relative to uniparental care. We will consider human mating systems from evolutionary, neuroscience, genetic, hormonal, developmental and social perspectives. Classes will involve a combination of discussion/lectures and student presentations of primary literature. Students will be evaluated on their oral and written presentations of journal articles, on their research papers and on their contributions to the discussions. We will use the book 'Sex at Dawn' to contrast popular press and scientific views of human mating systems.

4501. Selected Topics in Psychology.  The Psychology of Money and Financial Behaviour.  Money is a critical aspect and motivator of human thought and human behavior. However, the human relationship with money and money-related objects (e.g., consumer possessions, monetary investments, real estate) is an understudied area within modern day psychology. This is very surprising given the central role that money plays in determining much of our behavior. For many people, the acquisition, investment, or the disposal (spending, giving) of money is the prime underlying motivator of much daily behavior and is associated with a host a human emotions, decision making processes, personality characteristics and behavioral attributes such as power, status, achievement, and self-esteem. It is also a central aspect of some forms of human psychopathology such as money related addictions (hoarding, spending), criminality, and excessive gambling. This multidisciplinary course will cover all aspects of human behavior (neurological, motivational, social, cognitive, personality and psychopathological) that interact with the intense human desire to obtain, retain, invest, and dispose of money and related possessions.

Spring/Intersession 2013

4500. Selected Topics in Psychology I. The psychology of human mating systems: Are humans naturally monogamous?  Mating systems (e.g., monogamy, polygamy) are shaped by how evenly resources (wealth) are distributed and whether biparental care (care provided by two parents) increases offspring survival or quality relative to uniparental care. We will consider human mating systems from evolutionary, neuroscience, genetic, hormonal, developmental and social perspectives. Classes will involve a combination of discussion/lectures and student presentations of primary literature. Students will be evaluated on their oral and written presentations of journal articles, on their research papers and on their contributions to the discussions. We will use the book 'Sex at Dawn' to contrast popular press and scientific views of human mating systems.

4651.  Selected Topics in Abnormal Begaviour 1.  The course features a review of both chemical addictions and process addictions. Students develop an understanding of the biological, cultural and social factors that are associated with addictions as well as various treatment models. This course includes an experiential activity in which students are involved in a community service learning activity where they learn first hand the affect of addictions on people's lives.

Spring/Intersession 2012

4500. Selected Topics in Psychology I. The psychology of human mating systems - are humans naturally monogamous? Mating systems (e.g., monogamy, polygamy) are shaped by how evenly resources (wealth) are distributed and whether biparental care (care provided by two parents) increases offspring survival or quality relative to uniparental care. We will consider human mating systems from evolutionary, neuroscience, genetic, hormonal, developmental and social perspectives. Classes will involve a combination of discussion/lectures and student presentations of primary literature. Students will be evaluated on their oral and written critiques of journal articles and on their research papers. We will use the book 'Sex at Dawn' to contrast popular press and scientific views of human mating systems.

Spring/Intersession 2011

4151. Selected Topics in Social Psychology II. This course reviews current and classic theory and research on the processes by which people exert influence on one another’s behaviour, beliefs, emotions, and attitudes. Topics of study include conformity, compliance, obedience, and persuasion. The course will focus on both the theoretical and applied implications of social influence research. Students will read, present, discuss, and debate original theoretical and empirical articles. In addition, students will generate novel research ideas and design a research project exploring one or more facets of the social influence domain.

Winter 2011

4151 (Section 001). Selected Topics in Social Psychology II. The study of health and wellness can involve the application of a variety of disciplines including psychology, anthropology, sociology, epidemiology, medicine, and economics. The primary purpose of this course is to explore various contributions of social psychology by considering the application of a wide range of social psychological theory within the context of illness prevention, health promotion, and the health care system itself. These theories can extend from rather individualistic notions of health and wellness (e.g., schemas and attitudinal mechanisms) to concepts associated with characteristics of the broader social environment (e.g., sense of community and social capital). Also of interest will be how social psychological studies in health and wellness are designed and carried out, particularly in terms of definitions of wellness and outcome measures.

4151 (section 002). Selected Topics in Social Psychology II. This course reviews current and classic theory and research on the processes by which people exert influence on one another’s behaviour, beliefs, emotions, and attitudes. Topics of study include conformity, compliance, obedience, and persuasion. The course will focus on both the theoretical and applied implications of social influence research. Students will read, present, discuss, and debate original theoretical and empirical articles. In addition, students will generate novel research ideas and design a research project exploring one or more facets of the social influence domain.

4251: Selected Topics in Learning II. The focus of this course will be on animal models of episodic memory. We will begin with a discussion of exactly how episodic memory should be defined. We will then discuss various animal models of episodic memory and the controversy surrounding whether episodic memory can be studied in animals. And finally, we will examine behavioural neuroscience techniques for investigating episodic memory in animals. Particular emphasis will be placed on the possible role of hippocampal place cells in episodic memory. Students will read, present and discuss original theoretical and empirical articles.

4850. Selected Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience. The focus of this course is on social and affective neuroscience; research aimed at understanding the neural mechanisms that mediate mammalian social and emotional behavior. The first part of the course will focus on affiliative behavior, e.g. mating and parental behavior. These are called affiliative because they bring animals together in mutually beneficial relationships. Questions include those about motivation, e.g. what are the conditions that lead animals to seek and maintain social contact? Social contacts may be brief, e.g. mating, but may lead to long-lasting attachments, as in species such as vole and human where mating leads to life-long pair-bonding. The second part of the course considers the nature of emotions and their neural mechanisms. Animal research laid the foundations for this field, but human brain imaging methods, e.g. fMRI have led to a recent rapid increase in studies directed at understanding the neural basis of human emotions. There is no textbook. Readings will include review papers and research reports.

Fall 2010

4050. Selected Topics in Developmental Psychology I. This course will focus on autobiographical memory. Specifically, we will look at the way in which memory for our own life stories help define our identity and self concept, we will look at infantile amnesia or the inability of people to recall their very earliest years, and we will look at the factors that affect autobiographical memory such as gender, culture, and parent-child relationships (including how parents and children talk about past events and the emotional relationship they have). In addition, we will look at some pragmatic issues related to autobiographical memory, particularly eyewitness memory in a forensic context and how memories of child witnesses can be distorted or implanted. Students will read and discuss original theoretical and empirical articles.

4250: Selected Topics in Learning. The course will examine animal models of learning and memory with a particular focus on the role of the hippocampus in memory. Topics to be covered include the Cognitive Map Theory, Configural, Relational and Contextual Theories of hippocampal function, Procedural versus Declarative memory, and Episodic memory. Students will read, present and discuss original theoretical and empirical articles.

Share