350 Homework Assignments

Fall 2006

Assignments will be posted as they are assigned.

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Homework #5: Sleep Article and SleepJournal

Your responses are due at the beginning of class on Thursday,December 7th.

* many thanks to a colleague at Clemson University who developed aprevious version of these assignments.


1. Read the following article by Dr. Dement (click on link) andanswer question.

What All Undergraduates Should Know About How Their Sleeping LivesAffect Their Waking Lives (by Dr. Dement)


After reading the article, answer the following question: What wasthe most surprising thing you learned from the article? Why?

2. Sleep Journal and Spoon Test Chart:

For 5 consecutive days (including two weekend days), record thefollowing on a chart:

  1. a. The day / date
  2. b. Time you tried to fall asleep for the night
  3. c. Best estimate of when you actually fell asleep
  4. d. Time that you woke up in the morning
  5. e. Amount of nightly sleep (time d minus time c)
  6. f. Amount of sleep debt from that night (8 hours minus time e)

Do the spoon test (see below for instructions) 2 times a day for 2consecutive days (you choose which days). For each spoon test, recordthe following information on the chart:

Spoon test times to record:

  1. a. The day / date
  2. b. Time that you closed your eyes with the intention of falling asleep
  3. c. Time that the falling spoon hit the plate
  4. d. Sleep onset time (time c minus time b). If the spoon never dropped, just enter >20 minutes
  5. e. Information on whether or not you felt you were asleep when the spoon hit the plate.


3. Evaluate your data with respect to the two text theories(recuperation and circadian) and the theory of sleep debt fromDement.

4. List a specific change that would be reasonable and possiblefor you to make that would improve your sleeping behavior.

The Spoon Test

Decide on two times during the day when you can be somewhere whereyou can either sit back in a chair (recliner) or lie on a couch orbed in a darkened, quiet place (no TV, no music, no friends, etc.)and try to go asleep. The times need to be at least two hours apartand at least two hours after awakening in the morning and at leasttwo hours before your bedtime at night.

Before actually trying to go to sleep, make sure that a digitalclock is easily visible from your resting place, and get a metalspoon and a large plate. Place the plate next to your resting placeso that you can comfortably dangle your hand over the over the sideof the bed, chair, couch, etc. When you get ready to try to go tosleep, look at the clock and focus on the time so that you willremember what time it was when you closed your eyes. Then lightlygrasp the spoon and dangle it with your finger tips pointing downover the plate. Immediately close your eyes and try to go to sleep.If/when you actually enter Stage 1 sleep, you should experience arelaxation of muscle tone that will allow the spoon to slip out ofyour hand. With luck, you will hear the noise of the spoon hittingthe plate. Immediately sit up and look at the clock and note thetime. Record the time you closed your eyes and the times that youropened your eyes after hearing the spoon hit the plate. Also recordwhether or not you thought you were asleep at the time that the spoondropped out of your hand. Just your own assessment…. Did youthink you were asleep or not? If the spoon hasn't dropped after 20minutes, quit trying to go to asleep.

Homework #4: Brain Damage / NeuropsychDisorders

This assignment is due at the beginning of class on Tuesday,November 21st..

1. Pick a specific type of brain damage orneuropsychological disease from Ch.10 of your textbook.

2. Imagine that you or a family member has this type ofbrain damage. What are 5 specific life situations / daily activitiesthat would be impacted by this type of brain damage?

3. Give an example of one "hot" new approach toprevention/treatment/cure for this type of damage? This should besomething not in the textbook -- do an Internet search and findsomething from within the past year.

Evaluate your information about this new approach (i.e. Is thesource of the information a good / reliable one, e.g. editorial /personal testimony / scientific journal article / newsstory…)?

Would you (or your family member) be willing to try this newapproach? (In other words, Is it ready for human testing yet? Is itinvasive / painful / has side effects, etc.)?

** When turning in the homework, attach a copy of the Internetarticle / pages. Make sure the URL is clearly printed on them.

Homework #3: Attention / Perception

This assignment will be due in class on Thursday, October26th.

Read the section of Chapter 7 on Selective Attention (Section 7.6,pp. 181 - 193).

Go to the following web site. http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/djs_lab/demos.html

View the following movie clips and answer the questions given foreach.

Part A. Scroll to the Change Blindness Examples. Go to:Changes across cuts in a motion picture (It is the second choiceunder the change blindness examples). This clip is most similar tothe experiment described in your chapter and illustrated in Figure7.26.

1. How many differences did you notice in the scene as theperspective changed?

2. How many times did you watch the video clip in order to noticethat many changes? How is this demo similar to the one described inthe book?

3. How is it different?

Part B. Scroll down the page to the Inattentional BlindnessExamples. Watch one of the transparent demo clips (one of the firsttwo) and one of the opaque demo clips from the four options in thefollowing group Sustained inattentional blindness -- selectivelooking (This is the first set of choices under the InattentionalBlindness examples further down on the page.) Your task when youwatch is to count the number of times the students in the whiteshirts (or black -- take your pick) bounce the ball.

1. After watching both versions -- did you notice the unusualevent in either one? If you only noticed it in one of the clips, whydo you think you didn't notice it in the other? If you noticed it inboth, was one more obvious? Why? If you didn't notice it in either,watch them again, but this time don't count the number of times theball bounces. Did you notice it now? Answer the above questions onceyou notice it.

2. Explain what you think is happening in these clips with respectto attention and perception. (Remember the definition of perceptionwe gave in class.)

Part C. General Questions:

1. How are the two types of clips (change blindness andinattentional blindness) similar?

2. How are they different?

3. Think of an example that might happen in your daily life thatwould be like an example of change blindness.

4. Think of an example that might happen in your daily life thatwould be like an example of inattentional blindness.


Homework #2

Pick a complex activity such as driving, walking across campus,participating in a sport, etc.

Describe how 8 of the following brain structures might be activewhile you perform that activity. Note: some brain structures may bemore active under certain conditions (rain versus sunny conditions,seeing a friend along the way, scoring a point, respectively), whileother brain structures might be active regardless of the conditions.If specific conditions influence activation, then identify theconditions as part of your answer.




Reticular Formation





Corpus Callosum

Frontal lobe of cortex

Parietal lobe of cortex

Occipital lobe of cortex

Temporal lobe of cortex

This assignment will be due at the beginning of class onTuesday, September 26th.

Homework #1

Read the article, "InNew Tests for Fetal Defects, Agonizing Choices."

Answer the following questions and bring them to class onThursday, September 7th.

1. Describe your gut reaction to the article. This descriptionshould include some introspection, not just a simple statement. Thus,use 3-4 sentences when describing it.

2. Review some of the major points made in the article (not thespecific examples that follow the points). Pick one that you findmost thought-provoking and explain why (use 3-4 sentences). Note:often items are thought-provoking because you have never consideredthem before, or because they are somewhat or greatly different fromyour current standpoint. It does not necessarily mean that you willchange your standpoint by evaluating / thinking about them.

3. Flip through your textbook and find a specific topic (not justa chapter name) that could somehow relate to issues described in thisarticle. Identify the topic and tell why you think it relates.

4. Find a more current article (not just a commercial web site) onthe web that somehow relates to this article. Print it out so you canturn in (make sure the URL is clearly shown on the article). Explainhow it relates.

We will have some lecture on Thursday, September 7th, but at least30 minutes of class will be devoted to some discussion over thesetopics.

The point of this exercise is to discuss how this topic relates tomultiple areas of biopsychology. The point is not to change anyone'spersonal beliefs about fetal testing or abortion. I will expecteveryone to listen politely and respectfully to others' comments andviewpoints. This discussion will occur in a university classroomwhere we should be able to talk about any topic in an educatedmanner. This topic and related items are currently in the nationalspotlight, and our society will be reacting to these issues andconsidering policies related to them. It will benefit all of us tothink about the wide range of issues and perspectives related to thetopic.