The PsychSim5 Activities
Purpose: To provide a more comprehensive synopsis of the origins of psychology, the early history of psychology as a discipline, and the major themes in twentieth century psychology.
Summary: This activity will take you on a tour through the history of psychology. You will learn how psychology grew out of philosophy and medical physiology, and will become acquainted with some of the pioneers of psychology as a scientific discipline.
Purpose: To describe the common measures of central tendency and variability and demonstrate their use in summarizing a data set.
Summary: This activity introduces you to the basic statistics that researchers use to summarize their sets of data. You will learn how to produce a distribution of scores and how to graph the distribution. After descriptions of the measures of central tendency (mode, median, and mean) and variability (range and standard deviation), you will be able to manipulate the scores in a distribution to see how each score affects the descriptive statistics for that distribution.
Purpose: To explain how research on split-brain patients has helped us understand the special abilities of the two halves of the brain.
Summary: This activity describes what researchers have learned about the special abilities of the left and right sides of the brain. After a brief review of the way that information is carried from the main sensory channels to the brain, you will test the responses of a simulated “split-brain” patient to demonstrate that, for most right-handers, the main language center is located in the left hemisphere, while the right hemisphere is specialized for spatial tasks. Then you will carry out the same experiments with a simulated “normal” individual to explore the functioning of the hemispheres in an intact brain.
Purpose: To explain an important new research area that bridges the fields of evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology.
Summary: In this activity you will explore one of the brain mechanisms believed to foster the evolution of human language and culture. The focus of the activity is a simulated experiment in which you will play the role of a researcher who is recording from “mirror neurons” in the premotor cortex of monkeys as they perform various tasks or watch others perform those tasks. The results will demonstrate that mirror neurons are involved in observational learning, and may have played a major role in the evolution of language and culture.
Purpose: To describe Piaget’s theory on the growth of intelligence and simulate the performance of three children of different ages on some of Piaget’s tasks.
Summary: After presenting background information on Jean Piaget, this activity explains some of the basic concepts of his theory, including schemas, operations, and assimilation/accommodation. Next, Piaget's stages of cognitive development are described and illustrated with examples. In the last segment, you act as the experimenter, testing 4-, 7-, and 13-year-olds on Piaget's conservation and seriation tasks.
The Auditory System
Purpose: To explain how we hear and how the physical nature of the sound wave determines the quality of the sound experience.
Summary: This activity covers the characteristics of sound that are important for hearing, and describes the structure of the ear and auditory pathway. You will be asked to locate the parts of the ear on a drawing. The activity simulates the transmission of a sound wave through the outer, middle, and inner ear and shows how the cochlea converts the mechanical energy to neural impulses. Next, it explains the concepts of frequency, amplitude, and waveform and shows how these aspects of the sound wave are related to the experience of pitch, loudness, and timbre.
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