Overview

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Overview notes

Each week we looked at a paper. You can think of the papers as illustrating a set of important

  • topics - different areas of cognitive psychology
  • concepts - important uses and abuses of experimental evidence
  • practices - for readers, each lecture I tried to emphasise one important aspect of how a cognitive psychologist reads papers


Weeks 1&2: Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, H. L. (2008). The critical importance of retrieval for learning. Science, 319(5865), 966-968.

  • topic: learning
  • concept: inventing a phenomenon; notice how the authors go from a simple observation to an experimental test
  • practice: you must force yourself while reading to get to grips with all tables and notation, however complex. This is often the heart of the paper


Week 3: Attwood, A. S., Scott-Samuel, N. E., Stothart, G., & Munafò, M. R. (2012). Glass shape influences consumption rate for alcoholic beverages. PloS one, 7(8), e43007.

  • topic: perception
  • concept: why you need a theory; only by having a theory can you speculate about how your phenomenon may generalise
  • practice: you must translate quantities in technical units or percentages into amounts that make intuitive sense to you


Week 4: Stafford, T., Elgueta, H., Cameron, H. (2014). Students’ engagement with a collaborative wiki tool predicts enhanced written exam performance. Research in Learning Technology, 22, 22797. doi:10.3402/rlt.v22.22797

  • topic: reasoning, learning
  • concept: correlation is not causation; an important confound. There is no substitute for experimental control
  • practice: I discussed 'extra mile thinking', considering the implications of different possibilities: "what if, what if not"


Week 5: Hagemann, N., Strauss, B., & Leißing, J. (2008). When the referee sees red…. Psychological Science, 19(8), 769-771.

  • topic: performance
  • concept: each experiment is part of an (ongoing) research programme, you can investigate research which came before and which follows
  • practice: thinking about mechanism of action (and which people involved are the site of the mechanism of action)


Week 6: Nettle, D., Nott, K., & Bateson, M. (2012) “Cycle Thieves, We Are Watching You”: Impact of a Simple Signage Intervention against Bicycle Theft. PloS one, 7(12), e51738.

  • topic: social cognition, evolutionary cognition
  • concept: importance of choice of control condition
  • practice: dissecting conclusions into component claims


Reading week (7)


Week 8: Tsay, C. J. (2013). Sight over sound in the judgement of music performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(36), 14580-14585.

  • topic: perception and judgement
  • concept: ceiling effects
  • practice: putting claims in context, balanced against common sense understanding


Week 9: Snowball, A., Tachtsidis, I., Popescu, T., Thompson, J., Delazer, M., Zamarian, L., Zhu, T., Cohen Kadosh, R. (2013). Long-Term Enhancement of Brain Function and Cognition Using Cognitive Training and Brain Stimulation. Current Biology, 23, 987–992. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.04.045Ed

  • topic: cognitive neuroscience, numerical cognition
  • concept: speed-accuracy trade-offs, logic of statistical inference
  • practice: not being afraid of highly technical work - it often has the same flaws as less technical work


Week 10: ten Brinke, L., Stimson, D., & Carney, D. R. (2014). Some Evidence for Unconscious Lie Detection. Psychological science, 25(5), 1098-1105.

  • topic: the unconscious
  • concept: interpretation; often the weakness of a study is not that it was done wrong, but that the conclusions based on it are exaggerated
  • practice: the vital important of thinking about cognitive architecture