COGS 160A: Language Research: A Practicum (Winter 2015)

T/Th 12:30-1:50pm
CSB 272 and the BCL

Course website:


Coulson (Professor)

Office: CSB 161

Course Description

This course involves 6-10 hours per week of hands-on experience working in a cognitive science laboratory focused on issues related to language and reasoning. Students will get to observe and participate in all aspects of research, including experimental design, stimulus construction, data collection, and data analysis. (Scheduling is fairly flexible; we do our best to schedule lab time around existing schedules for course, work, and athletics/hobbies.) The bulk of time will most likely be spent on data collection using some combination of the following techniques: reaction time studies, dual task studies, eye-tracking and event –related brain potentials. After getting a feel for the different techniques used in language research, most students will focus on a single project that is close enough to completion that you will be able to write a short research paper on it. Besides conducting research, students are expected to participate in weekly lab meetings (Tuesdays 12:30-2pm) in which we discuss language research in the wider community (UCSD and beyond). We will also have some meetings on Thursdays 12:30-2pm to learn about analyzing EEG and running statistical analyses. Course requirements involve participation in research activities in the lab, participation in lab meeting, and the completion of research paper that describes a research project the student has worked on. This is a great course for someone interested in graduate study in this area of cognitive science – or anyone who wonders what goes on in a cognitive science laboratory.


[1] Bellebaum, C., & Daum, I. (2008). Learning‐related changes in reward expectancy are reflected in the feedback‐related negativity. European Journal of Neuroscience, 27(7), 1823-1835.

[2] Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (2000). Emotion and motivation. Handbook of psychophysiology, 2, 602-642.

[3] James, O., & Van Ryzin, G. G. (2017). Motivated Reasoning about Public Performance: An Experimental Study of How Citizens Judge the Affordable Care Act. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 27(1), 197-209.

[4] Lockwood, G., Hagoort, P., & Dingemanse, M. (2016). How iconicity helps people learn new words: neural correlates and individual differences in sound-symbolic bootstrapping. Collabra.

[5] Regel, S., Gunter, T. C., & Friederici, A. D. (2011). Isn't it ironic? An electrophysiological exploration of figurative language processing. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(2), 277-293.

[6] Verhoef, T., Walker, E., & Marghetis, T. (2016). Cognitive biases and social coordination in the emergence of temporal language. Submitted for the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

[7] Wu, Y.C., Chinh, B., & Coulson, S. (2015). Visuo-spatial Working Memory and the Comprehension of Iconic Gestures. In: Noelle, D. C., Dale, R., Warlaumont, A. S., Yoshimi, J., Matlock, T., Jennings, C. D., & Maglio, P. P. (Eds.) (2015). Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society, pp. 2673-2678.

[8] Wu, Y. C., & Coulson, S. (2010). Gestures modulate speech processing early in utterances. Neuroreport, 21(7), 522.

[9] Paper writing 101

Course Details and Policies

COGS 160 is evaluated by letter grade. Completing project duties, fulfilling required hours, participating in lab meetings, and producing a quality end-of-quarter paper is all you need to earn an A.

Course Schedule

Week Date Topic Readings MeetingPlace
1 Tue Jan 10 Welcome to lab!

CSB 272

Thu Jan 12 Introduction to EEGLAB


2 Tue Jan 17 Multimodal Discourse Comprehension: Verbal vs Visuospatial WM
CSB 272

Thu Jan 19 Introduction to R


3 Tue Jan 24  Iconicity & Temporal Concepts [6]
CSB 272

Thu Jan 26 Running ANOVA in R


4 Tue Jan 31 Feedback Related Negativity (FRN) & Learning [1]
CSB 272
Extra1, Extra2, Extra3
Thu Feb 02 Measuring ERP Amplitude with ERPLAB


5 Tue Feb 07 Multimodal Discourse Comprehension: ERP Indices
CSB 272

Thu Feb 09 Analyzing ERP Amplitudes with R


6 Tue Feb 14 ERPs to Iconic Signals
CSB 272

Thu Feb 16 Linear Regression in R


7 Tue Feb 21 Psychophysiology of Affect
CSB 272

Thu Feb 23 Measuring Inter-Coder Reliability


8 Tue Feb 28 Understanding Sarcasm
CSB 272

Thu Mar 02 Introduction to Brainstorm


9 Tue Mar 07 Motivated Reasoning and Belief Updating
CSB 272

Thu Mar 09 Linear Mixed Effects Models in R


10 Tue Mar 14 Writing a Research Report
CSB 272

Thu Mar 16 'Office Hours' in BCL