Psychology 448B/538B

Introduction to Programming for the Behavioral Sciences

Autumn 2015

Home Library of Functions The Book




Guthrie Annex, 3


Tuesday, Thursday 10:00-11:50


Ione Fine


Guthrie 233




Office Hours

2.30-3.20 Tues & Thurs or by arrangement

Useful Links:

Catalyst DropBox (For submitting homework, UW students only)


Course Objectives:

This class is a tutorial for programming techniques in Matlab that are particularly relevant to researchers in behavioral sciences. The class will give a researcher with no or little experience in programming the tools they need to design and program their own experiment, do basic analysis, and plot their results. For example, it will include classes on experimental design, stimulus presentation, experimental timing, graphical user interfaces, curve fitting, randomization techniques, basic statistics, and customized data plotting, debugging and code optimization techniques.


Students will be evaluated through their performance on (roughly) weekly homework assignments (65%) and a course project due at the end of the academic quarter (35%).


Homework Assignments:

Homework assignments associated with each chapter will be posted online through the Catalyst Drop Box.

You should submit homework assignments in the form of Matlab m-files. These should be posted into the Catalyst drop box, either as scripts (with initial comments describing how to call the script) or functions. To receive full credit, the script or function must run from the command line without creating any erorrs and produce the desired output. Be sure to try out your script from the command line (after typing clear all) before submitting it. Common problems include using an invalid file name (e.g. spaces or '-' symbols in the name), and forgetting to clear the memory ('clear all') before testing the script.

If you get stuck on a homework problem, be sure to email me for help (which I will monitor) or schedule an appointment. Often a quick answer from me will save you hours of frustration.

Course Project:

Course projects are due on the last day of class (December 6th). Your project can be on any number of topics, but should demonstrate that you've learned the basic concepts of programming in Matlab. The sophistication of your project will depend on the extent of your programming experience coming in to this class, so grading will be based on how much you've learned, rather than how your project compares to the other students' projects.

The topic must be approved ahead of time by me, so please be sure to discuss possible topics with me during the quarter. Topics include an elaboration of one or more of the homework assignments, or an implementation of an idea related to your research.

I are happy to work closely with you on your project. Please do not hesitate to schedule office hours with me.