Obtaining Knowledge. Lecture 7 Methods of Scientific Observation and Analysis in Behavioral Psychology and Neuropsychology.

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1 Lecture 7 Methods of Scientific Observation and Analysis in Behavioral Psychology and Neuropsychology 1.Obtaining Knowledge 1. Correlation 2. Causation 2.Hypothesis Generation & Measures 3.Looking into the Brain 4.Discussion: The 6 Golden Rules 1/47 Obtaining Knowledge Psychology is the science that investigates the representation and processing of information by complex organisms. Methods of psychology: Observation of behavior by Experiments Correlational Studies Questionnaires Measures: Behavior (reaction time, errors, ) Brain activity (PET, EEG, (f)mri) 2/47 Simple Observations Simple observing will not tell you anything about the human cognitive apparatus Consider for example the following observation: raised left hand, turned head, activation in parietal cortex What does this tell you about human information processing? Situations Nothing! because without information about the situation in which some observations were made one can not draw conclusions regarding cognition. Psychological investigations / observations are always conducted in certain situations. 3 /47 4/47 Appropriate Situations Situations must be adequate for those aspects of cognition which are being investigated Observing human behavior in a completely dark room will not help in gaining knowledge about human vision. Rule 1: Psychological observations must be carried out in appropriate situations. An Example I Question: How high is the human memory span for words? Method: Let a person read a list of 20 words; Wait 10 Minutes; Let the person write down all the words she can remember Result: The number of words correctly remembered by the person. Let s say 8 words are remembered. /47 6/47

2 An Example II Conclusion: Humans have a memory span of 8 words. Two Problems: Just one person. Confounding factors. Single Subjects The person observed may be atypical. Maybe the person has an extraordinary or especially poor memory for words compared to normal humans. Usually, in cognitive modeling one wants to model human information processing in general. Observing a single person normally is not sufficient. 7 /47 8/47 Samples Only by observing every human being it is possible to draw any certainly valid conclusions from the observation. This is, of course, not possible. As a compromise a particular subset of all humans, called sample, is observed. With statistical procedures it is possible to infer conclusions which hold for humans in general. Representative Samples Samples have to be representative. Counterexample: Observing memory span for words only with children of age 4 or below. This sample is not representing humans in general, i.e., not representative. Rule 2: Psychological observations must be carried out with representative samples. 9 /47 10/47 Unwanted Influences Two Problems: 1. Just one person. 2. Confounding factors. Order of words. Properties of words (length, meaning, ). Number of words studied. Prior knowledge of a person. Cognitive abilities of a person. Emotional and physiological state of a person. 11/47 12/47

3 Controlling Influences There are two ways to avoid / control for unwanted influences: 1.Keep them constant during the observation (all persons have the same prior knowledge). 2.Systematically vary them to explicitly observe their influence on the subject of investigation (Vary the number of words to study). Randomization Some unwanted influences may be hard to control, if at all. (emotional / physiological state) Solution: Choose different grades of the influence randomly and hope that they cancel each other out in the mean. Rule 3: Unwanted influences have to be minimized either by control or by randomization. 13 /47 14/47 Correlation Two properties are correlated the variation of one property is not independent of the variation of the other property. The more extraverted a person is, the more friends she will have. Extraversion and number of friends are correlated. Causal Relationship Two properties have a causal relationship the variation of one property consistently causes the variation of the other property. Causal relationship correlation Correlation causal relationship 15/47 /47 A Classic Psychologists tested high school students. Result Weight and mathematical skill are correlated. The higher the weight the better the math skill. We should eat more to improve our math skill! No, this is just a correlation. Age is the cause for both weight and math skill. Ensuring Causation Causal relationships between an influence and human behavior can only be inferred if: One can manipulate the grade of influence. One can avoid relevant unwanted influence. If these two conditions hold the observation is called an experiment. Otherwise it is called a correlational study. 17 /47 18/47

4 Importance of Experiments In understanding human cognition experiments are crucial. For example, it is not possible to pinpoint whether sex / gender influences spatial cognition abilities. Rule 4: Whenever possible observations should be experiments. Lecture 7 Methods of Scientific Observation and Analysis in Behavioral Psychology and Neuropsychology 1.Obtaining Knowledge 1. Correlation 2. Causation 2.Hypothesis Generation & Measures 3.Looking into the Brain 4.Discussion: The 6 Golden Rules 19/47 20/47 A Weather Forecast Predicting what is already at hand is not very informative. Hypotheses To verify whether the crucial aspects of cognition have been understood one must predict behavior before it takes place. Such predictions are derived from theories and are called hypotheses. Hypotheses are tested by experiments. Results which are in accord with the hypotheses support the underlying theory. 21 /55 22/47 Generating Hypotheses New theories / hypotheses might be generated from: Introspection. Experiments. Observing a single person. Regardless of the source of hypotheses they can only be checked by an additional experiment. Measures Behavior observations need to be formalized. Formalized observations are called measurements or dependent variables. There are roughly two classes of measurements: Behavioral. Neurological. Rule 5: Formulate clear and unambiguous hypotheses before conducting the experiment. 23/47 24/47

5 Behavioral Measures Reaction time. Accuracy (number of errors, quantitative deviation from the optimal solution). Speed and accuracy often trade off. Subjective ratings. Protocol of behavior (picked up object, turned head, ). Lecture 7 Methods of Scientific Observation and Analysis in Behavioral Psychology and Neuropsychology 1.Obtaining Knowledge 1. Correlation 2. Causation 2.Hypothesis Generation & Measures 3.Looking into the Brain 4.Discussion: The 6 Golden Rules 25/47 26/47 Electroencephalography (EEG) Recording electric activity from the surface of the brain Two main types: General activity patterns (e.g. synchronization patterns, sleep stages) Event related responses (ERP): Specific patterns elicited by certain stimuli. Time resolution is very good (scope of milliseconds). Localization is rather poor (large regions at best). Single Cell Recording Specific response patterns of individual neurons can be recorded in response to specific stimuli Simultaneous multiple cell recording; however, responses cannot be related to specific circuitry Electric stimulation can be used to suppress functionality of brain regions 27 /47 28/47 Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fmri) MRI vs. fmri MRI studies brain anatomy. Functional MRI (fmri) studies brain function. 29 /55 30/47

6 MRI vs. fmri fmri Activation high resolution (1 mm) MRI fmri low resolution (~3 mm but can be better) Flickering Checkerboard OFF (60 s) - ON (60 s) -OFF (60 s) - ON (60 s) - OFF (60 s) one image fmri Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) signal indirect measure of neural activity neural activity many images (e.g., every 2 sec for 5 mins) è blood oxygen è fmri signal Brain Activity Time ð Source: Kwong et al., /55 32/55 fmri Activation fmri Experiment Stages: Anatomicals Take anatomical (T1) images high-resolution images (e.g., 1x1x2.5 mm) 3D data: 3 spatial dimensions, sampled at one point in time 64 anatomical slices takes ~5 minutes Source: Posner & Raichle, Images of Mind 33/55 34/47 fmri Experiment Stages: Functionals Take functional (T2*) images images are indirectly related to neural activity usually low resolution images (3x3x5 mm) all slices at one time = a volume (sometimes also called an image) sample many volumes (time points) (e.g., 1 volume every 2 seconds for 150 volumes = 300 sec = 5 minutes) 4D data: 3 spatial, 1 temporal Activation Statistics Functional images ~2s fmri Signal (% change) ROI Time Course Time Condition first volume (2 sec to acquire) Condition 1 Time Condition 2... Statistical Map superimposed on anatomical MRI image Region of interest (ROI) ~ 5 min 35/47 36/55

7 Problems with fmri research Sample size, running fmri is expensive. Measure is correlational Localization is accurate but does not fit every brain. Choosing Measures Measures differ a lot in their capabilities and costs. Behavioral measures are usually less expensive and less time consuming. Only some measures allow to answer certain questions. For instance, EEG is well suited for investigating time courses but not for localization. Rule 6: Measure must be appropriate for the subject of investigation. 37 /47 38/47 Lecture 7 Methods of Scientific Observation and Analysis in Behavioral Psychology and Neuropsychology 1.Obtaining Knowledge 1. Correlation 2. Causation 2.Hypothesis Generation & Measures 3.Looking into the Brain 4.Discussion: The 6 Golden Rules Rules Six golden rules for psychological investigations: 1. Set up an appropriate situation. 2. Investigate a representative sample. 3. Minimize unwanted influences. 4. Do experiments. 5. Formulate hypotheses before the experiment. 6. Choose appropriate measures. 39/47 40/47 A Caveat Rules 1, 3, and 4 might yield highly artificial situations: Solving an extensive sequence of very similar tasks. Impoverished environment. Measured is the behavior of humans in such artificial environments. But: One wants model human cognition in general. It is unclear whether the observations made in an experiment will generalize well. A Dilemma Solving this problem would mean to make the observation situation less artificial. Unwanted influences; no causal relationships can be inferred. It is almost never possible to carry out a methodological sound experiment without artificial situations. The degree of artificiality has to be adapted to the aim of investigation. In the scope of cognitive modeling avoiding unwanted influences and inferring causal relationships is most important. 41 /47 42/47

8 Next Week Human Memory sensory memory short-term memory working memory long-term memory 43/47

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