PSYC 3210 :: Laboratory Report - Behavioral Data Analysis

Objective

To present the methods and results of your behavioral training experiments in a simplified version of a scientific paper.

Due Date: Wednesday, 9/28, at the beginning of class

Background

Although scientific results are communicated in many forms, including posters, presentations, articles, and reviews, the primary research paper is carefully scrutinized before publication by scientists in the field and serves as the definitive record that will be referenced by future wokers. Results only become findings when they are published in a peer-reviewed journal. Research papers all have the following components:

Assignment

Your task is to present your behavioral experiments using a simplified version of a research paper that focuses on the Methods and Results sections. Our goal is to work on clear, concise writing and clear, aesthetically pleasing figure design. Each student must write his or her own report, but group members may assist each other with data analysis and making figures.

Your paper must describe the following experiments:

  1. Hopper training
  2. Discrimination training
  3. Category generalization and feature tests

Your report will comprise the following sections:

Methods

In this section, explain the nuts and bolts of of the experiment. Use the Herrnstein et al (1976) paper we discussed in class as a model. Give the subject species, and describe the training/test apparatus and the location(s) where the experiments were performed. Give each experiment its own subsection, and in each subsection give a detailed description of

  1. The organization of the trials
  2. The stimuli or experimental manipulations
  3. What you (or the computer) measured in each trial
  4. Any statistical tests used to make comparisons

Your goal is to be clear, precise, and complete, while not including extraneous information. For example, you should note that some of the discrimination training took place in an open classroom with other birds also undergoing training, but it’s not necessary to say what room and building we were in.

Results

In this section, tell the reader what the results of the experiments were. Each experiment should have its own subsection. In each subsection, clearly state the hypothesis being tested, the specific predictions, and describe the results. Your results section will have the following figures:

  1. Hopper training: line plot of response speed (distance divided by latency) versus trial number. Follow the convention with time series data, which is to plot time on the abscissa (horizontal axis).
  2. Discrimination training: line plot of average response accuracy or average response rate versus trial block, with separate lines for S+ and S- stimuli. Lines must be different colors or styles and either labelled in the figure or in the caption. Make sure to report block size in the figure caption.
  3. Category generalization/features: spectrograms of all probe stimuli. This should be a single figure with the spectrogram of each stimulus shown in a separate panel. You can use screenshots from Audacity. The time, frequency, and intensity scales need to be the same for all panels.
  4. Category generalization: bar plot of average accuracy for each stimulus presented during the probe test, including the original training stimuli. Bars should be clearly labeled and ordered in a logical manner, not alphabetically. Indicate which stimuli are significantly different from chance with stars above the histogram bar and note what p value you used as a cutoff in the caption.

For experiment 1, use the data your group collected and recorded in class. For experiments 2-4, use the data recorded by the computer. Instructions for retrieving the data are in the Data visualization and Behavioral probe experiments practica.

Important: you are NOT required to use R, ggplot, or any specific program to run analyses or prepare figures. However, most of what you need to do, you’ve already learned in R, so it ought to be fairly easy to work in that environment. If there’s anything you’re having a hard time figuring out how to do, don’t hesistate to contact the TAs or the instructor. Additional figure guidelines:

For this exercise, do not interpret results in the Results section. Your goal is to clearly communicate what you were testing and what happened.

Discussion

In the discussion, very briefly (one paragraph of 100 words max) summarize the results of your experiments, and describe whether or not they supported your hypothesis. If for any reason you were unable to obtain sufficient data to test the hypothesis, indicate this and say why.

Additional notes and resources

Your report should be no longer than 11 pages and no shorter than 8, including figures. Use 1.5 line spacing and 12 point, Times New Roman font. Submit on paper at the beginning of class 9/28.

Balance precision and conciseness, and avoid writing that sounds scientific but is not in a natural voice. For example, “The training of the starling’s discrimination ability was accomplished through operant conditioning” is a deeply obfuscated way of saying, “Starlings learned to discriminate between songs through operant conditioning”. For more information, check out these useful guidelines on sentence structure in scientific writing.

Grading Rubric