These will be updated as the semester goes on; always check back the week before an exam.

Test 1:

  1. What is the difference between a pure tone and a musical tone?
  2. Why are pianos and guitars thought of as musical instruments, but crumpling paper is not? (Contrast them in terms of the nature of the sound they produce.)
  3. Given that clarinets and guitars are producing the same kind of sound (i.e., musical sound), why do they still sound different? *not on test
  4. Describe the relationship between the fundamental frequency and its overtones.
  5. Why does a pure tone stimulate only a small part of the basilar membrane? Why does a musical tone stimulate separate and discrete parts of the basilar membrane?
  6. Contrast the activity on the basilar membrane when A220 (fundamental at 220 Hz) is played with when A440 is played. Use this to explain why they are perceived as being “equivalent”; ie. same note different octave.
  7. Consider a tone that has a fundamental frequency of f. Write down the harmonic series for that tone in terms of f. Consider a higher tone that has a fundamental frequency of 3/2 f. Now describe why these two tones (f and 3/2f) are perceived as consonant from the point of view of activity on the basilar membrane. Now describe what is happening on the basilar membrane when certain tones are perceived as dissonant.
  8. Describe the construction of the equal tempered scale. How is this construction consistent with the frequency encoding of the basilar membrane?
  9. Describe the ‘compression’ system used by the basilar membrane and why it is advantageous. How does this compare to other sensory modalities?
  10. What is the difference between discrimination and categorization (i.e., naming)? What is the point that Miller in “7 plus or minus 2” was making about limits on our ability to categorize?
  11. How is the psychological experience of color different from the spectrum of light (light as a linear ordering of frequency)?
  12. Describe the conjecture connecting category number to circular geometries of psychological space. Give examples and counterexamples if you know of any.
  13. Why can the psychological experience of notes be described in terms of a spiral?
  14. What is symmetry? How is symmetry used in musical composition? Note this is a big question.
  15. From the “Music Perception and Octave Generalization in Rhesus Monkeys” reading: What were the results of experiment 2? Briefly discuss the implications of experiment 2 for universal principles of music composition; i.e., How does this experiment make it clear that there may be universal principles?

Test 2:

  1. What are the four structures in light that the frog perceives? What is the ecological significance of each of those? If a frog is in a terrarium with dead flies, why won’t it eat them?
  2. What is the key difference between the way the frog perceives the world and the way a human perceives the world?
  3. How is adjacency on the retina mapped into cortex? (Hint: Refer to receptive fields.)
  4. What is the relationship between perceptual organization and “next to” relationships in cortex?
  5. What are some differences between a retinal image and what is perceived?
  6. Which senses are spatially organized in cortex and which aren’t?
  7. What dimension of audition is mapped in a “next to” relationship in the cortex?
  8. What property of our environment might explain why smell is different from our sense of vision and hearing? How does our experience of smell differ from touch, vision, and audition?
  9. Describe some (three or four) Gestalt laws for perceptual organization.
  10. Give an explanation in terms of the perceptual laws of organization for the fact that camouflage works. Why does motion break camouflage?
  11. What is the difference between a melody and a bunch of notes? (Hint: Refer to Gestalts)
  12. Why might the use of meaningless stimuli be less than optimal in the study of human memory?
  13. Describe Baddeley’s model of working memory. Describe potential problems associated with the three primary components of his memory model.
  14. What is change blindness? What are its implications for spatial working memory? What might we be relying on instead of spatial working memory?
  15. Describe the basic finding that reading rate and percent recall are correlated as a function of word length (measured as number of syllables). How would Baddeley interpret this finding?
  16. What is the central problem discussed in the RadioLab segment Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat (esp. regarding the “filing cabinet” or “hard drive” metaphor for memory)?
  17. Why are serial position recall functions (accuracy versus serial position) U-shaped? What are the primacy and recency effects, and what is the standard interpretation of them in terms of long-term and short-term memory?
  18. What is negative priming?
  19. What is semantic priming?
  20. Describe the phenomenon of priming in terms of an implicit short term memory system.

Test 3:

  1. Describe the discrimination procedure. What does it reveal about the way a rat perceives time?
  2. Describe the pacemaker model of timing. What are some potential problems with this model?
  3. Describe the peak procedure for measuring the properties of animal timing. (Hint: Rat and pigeon reinforcement study)
  4. What do these studies reveal about how time intervals are judged?
  5. Do you know exactly when 20 seconds has passed without counting? If you don’t, then how do you think a pigeon (or rat) knows?
  6. Describe in detail the experiment Perin did that showed that rats that suffered longer delays between bar press and food reward also learned less about the causal nature of the bar press.  This includes a full description of the experimental design and the independent and dependent variables.
  7. Plot the delay-of-reinforcement gradient with realistic numbers on the x axis that marks the delay interval.  What does the y-axis measure – what is the dependent variable?
  8. What kinds of human experiences exemplify perceptual organization in time?
  9. Describe Margaret Schleidt’s study. Describe strength of the ethological approach and the important implications of its findings.
  10. What happens to perceptual scene formation when the individual stimuli are spaced more than 2 seconds apart?
  11. How do composers use symmetry to create interest in music? How do composers effectively create nested hierarchies in music?
  12. In what sense does music imitate nature?