Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

9.63 teaches principles of experimental methods in human perception and cognition, including design and statistical analysis. The course combines lectures and hands-on experimental exercises and requires an independent experimental project. Some experience in programming is desirable. To foster improved writing and presentation skills in conducting and critiquing research in cognitive science, students are required to provide reports and give oral presentations of three team experiments. A fourth individually conducted experiment includes a proposal with revision, and concluding written and oral reports.

Course Requirements

Class Format

There is no final exam for this course. The "final" is Paper 3.

The mid-term held in Ses #21 is an open book exam.


Wolfe, J., et al. Sensation and Perception. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2005. ISBN: 9780878939381.

McBurney, Donald H., and Theresa L. White. Research Methods. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004. ISBN: 9780534524180.

Francis, Greg, et al. CogLab on a CD. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003. ISBN: 9780534640675.


Paper 1 is a literature review based on about 10 articles (about 2500 words) and Paper 2 is a research report about an experiment which is a single-factor design with controls (about 2500 words). The final paper (Paper 3) is a research article about an experiment with two-factors, with controls (related to Project 2, about 4500 words).

Problem sets consist of 4 CogLab reports (2-3 pages each) and 1 Science newspaper article on your project. CogLabs are short experiments (5 to 15 min.).

All papers are written individually. All research projects are done in groups of 1-3 students.


You have two free late days (24 hour periods each) that you may use between Paper 1 and Paper 2 as needed. Please notify us if you are taking late days. After you have used up your late days, you will lose 5% per day on an assignment. If you turn in anything over 3 days late, we do not guarantee that we will be able to grade it. Please be sure to talk to us as soon as possible in any such case; we don't want to hand out any grades of 0! Paper 3 (final paper) must be turned in on time, no exceptions, so that we can get the grades in on time. CogLab data and reports must be turned in on time, no exceptions. The data is important to your classmates who are presenting and it is vital that you not get behind on turning in these short experiments.


Paper 1 (Literature review) 10
Paper 2 (Experiment 1) 10
Paper 3 (Final) 15
4 CogLab summaries 20 (5 points per CogLab)
Science newspaper article 5
Oral presentation of literature review (Paper 1) 4
Oral presentation of experiment 1 (Paper 2) 4
Oral presentation of experiment 2 (Paper 3) 4
Oral presentation of CogLab 4
Mid-term exam (in class) 20
Participation in class 8

MIT Literature Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism—use of another's intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else's work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student's own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the style guides available at the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.


1 Introduction and project presentation  
2 Variables and controls–signal detection theory  
3 Single subject design and t-test CogLab 1 (Visual Search) data due

Factorial design I and interaction

CogLab 1 (Visual Search)–oral presentation

5 Factorial design II and ANOVA CogLab 1 (Visual Search) written report due
6 How to write a research paper Literature list of references due
7 How to write a news article and how to give a talk  

Project: literature review

Oral presentation of articles of project

9 Correlation and advanced data analysis CogLab 2 (Apparent Motion) data due
10 Paradigms of perception: psychophysics Paper 1 due: literature review

Paradigms of perception: mid to high level perception

CogLab 2 (Apparent Motion)–oral presentation

12 Paradigms of attention: selected and divided attention CogLab 2 (Apparent Motion) written report due
13 Paradigms of attention: visual search CogLab 3 (Attentional Blink) data due

Issue spotters

CogLab 3 (Attentional Blink)–oral presentation

15 Advanced paradigms in visual cognition Paper 1 rewrite due

Cognitive neuroscience methods

Check project statistics in class

17 Project: oral presentation of experiment 2  
18 Computational neuroscience methods

Paper 2 due

CogLab 3 (Attentional Blink) report due

CogLab 4 (Prototypes) data due

Research Report due 5 days after Ses #18


Computational vis. cog: visual search

CogLab 4 (Prototypes)–oral presentation

20 General review

CogLab 4 (Prototypes) written report due

CogLab 5 (Blind Spot) data due

21 Mid-term exam Paper 2 rewrite due 2 days after Ses #21
22 Statistics project 3 A science newspaper short article due
23 Project: oral presentation of experiment 2 CogLab 5 (Blind Spot) report due
24 Special topic  
25 Discussion of final paper Paper 3 due