Jeremy Caplan's teaching for 2020/2021:

Fall 2020 PSYCO 405/505: Individual differences in memory ability

(open to graduate and undergraduate students from all departments)

Description: Cognitive psychological approaches to memory typically focus on healthy younger adults. However, there are substantial people with superlative memory ability, as well as large numbers of people (e.g., in early stages of dementia) with markedly reduced memory function. The goal of this seminar is to read and contemplate research on these extreme populations to shed new insights into mathematical models and empirical phenomena typically developed in relation to more modal populations. Material will include behavioural, electrophysiological and neuroimaging approaches. The overarching learning objective is to gain mastery of the topic and exhibit this by proposing well motivated, original research in the area.

Pre-requisites: Substantial knowledge of experimental psychology of memory (such as PSYCO 350) some basic cognitive neuroscience (EEG and fMRI, such as PSYCO 375), and a good intuitive understanding of basic statistical tests, how to apply them and how to understand reports of those statistical tests. Simply having taken psychology courses previously is not a requirement. For qualified students, Psychology course pre-requisites will be waived (consult the Instructor). The following is a self-quiz you can try to assess your preparedness or identify areas to read up on:

  • Sketch and explain your favourite result experimental result in memory research
  • Name five factors (experimental or strategic) that influence memory success
  • What is a serial-position curve?
  • How do these tasks differ from each other: recognition, free recall, serial recall, cued recall
  • What is the difference between an incidental and intentional memory paradigm?
  • What is episodic memory, and how is it different from semantic memory?
  • What do EEG and fMRI measure? How does that relate to neuronal activity?
  • What are the spatial and temporal resolution of EEG and fMRI?
  • What is the difference between MRI and fMRI?
  • What is an ERP, and how does that relate to EEG?
  • Sketch your favourite EEG or fMRI result, and explain what we learn from it
  • What memory-related cognitive functions are typically attributed to the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex and the basal ganglia?
  • What does a t test actually test?
  • When do you need to use an ANOVA?
  • What is a Pearson correlation? What does it mean if a correlation is positive, zero or negative?
  • How can correlation or regression inform us about individual differences?

Check out the Alberta Cognitive Neuroscience group