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Physiological Roots of Psychology. The Zeitgeist of the 19th century. The nature of the observing organism Methods of physiology applied to philosophical questions Astronomy: Bessel’s personal equation Physiology: cortical localization of function Medicine: clinical autopsy methods

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Physiological Roots of Psychology


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the zeitgeist of the 19th century
The Zeitgeist of the 19th century
  • The nature of the observing organism
  • Methods of physiology applied to philosophical questions
  • Astronomy: Bessel’s personal equation
  • Physiology: cortical localization of function
  • Medicine: clinical autopsy methods
  • Electricity: an analogy and as stimulation
  • Research in sensory physiology
early experimental scientists physiologists psychologists
Early Experimental Scientists(Physiologists/”psychologists”)
  • Bell-Magendie Law
  • J.Muller (1801-1858): Theory of Specific Nerve Energies
  • H. von Helmholtz (1821-1894): Handbook of Physiological Optics; On the Sensations of Tone
    • Acoustics
    • Optics
    • Speed of nerve impulse
ernst weber 1795 1878
Ernst Weber (1795-1878)
  • De Tactu
  • Two-point threshold
  • Weber’s Law: just-noticeable difference (jnd)
gustav fechner 1801 1887 father of psychophysics
Gustav Fechner (1801-1887“Father of Psychophysics”
  • Elemente der Psychophysik (1860)
  • Absolute threshold (limen)
  • Differential threshold (jnd) S = K log R
absolute and difference threshold
Absolute and difference threshold
  • Just-noticeable difference: measures subjective magnitude of sensation.
  • Stimulus increases geometrically; sensation increases arithmetically
sensation plods along step by step while the stimulus leaps ahead by ratios woodsworth 1938
“Sensation plods along step by step while the stimulus leaps ahead by ratios.” (Woodsworth, 1938)
  • S = magnitude of the sensation
  • K = constant
  • R = magnitude of the stimulus
  • Stimulus increases geometrically; sensation increases arithmetically
absolute thresholds approx
Absolute Thresholds (approx.)
  • Vision
    • A candle flame at 30 miles on a clear night
  • Hearing
    • Tick of a wristwatch at 19 feet in a quiet room
  • Taste
    • One teaspoon of sugar in 2 liters of water
  • Smell
    • One drop of perfume in an average house
  • Touch
    • An insect falling on your cheek from a height of 1/2 inch
slide9
Values of Weber’s ConstantThe difference required for discrimination of a comparison stimulus from a standard.
  • Vision (brightness) 1/60
  • Weights 1/50
  • Temperature 1/30
  • Pressure on skin 1/7
  • Smell 1/4
  • Taste (salt) 1/3
psychophysical methods
Psychophysical Methods
  • Method of limits
  • Method of adjustment (“average error”)
  • Method of constant stimuli (right and wrong cases)
method of limits minimal change
Method of Limits (minimal change)
  • Each series of stimuli terminates when the limit--the point of change in judgment--is reached
  • Threshold varies over time
  • Drawbacks
    • errors of anticipation
    • errors of habituation
method of adjustment method of average error
Method of Adjustment (Method of average error)
  • Simultaneous comparison of a continuously variable stimulus with a standard
  • Least accurate
  • Fastest estimate
  • Average error and subject’s errors measure sensitivity
  • Drawback: doesn’t work with auditory stimuli
method of constant stimuli
Method of Constant Stimuli
  • Present standard and comparison stimulus in random order
  • Most accurate
  • Takes the longest