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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Microcomputers in psychological experimentation, headturn: a case study Pidcock, Brian


Mass market microcomputers are often used in conducting psychology experiments. Despite steadily falling prices and widespread use of these microcomputers in many areas, there are significant obstacles to their universal use in psychological experimentation. The specialized needs of experimentation are often poorly served by mass market systems, yet the small size of the psychology market precludes the development of low cost, specialized hardware and software. The "Headturn" technique, an experimental protocol for studying sound and speech recognition in infants, was taken as an example of an experimental procedure that has evolved as the computer tools have evolved. This evolution is traced and the current state of the "Headturn" technique is documented and analyzed. The next step in the evolution of the "Headturn" technique has been designed and implemented to take advantage of current mass market components, capitalizing on the lessons learned using earlier versions of the system. Timing is one example where the needs of the experimenter are not readily met by mass market components. Different options for improved timing in the "Headturn" procedure were explored and implemented. Timing limits relative to experimental needs are discussed.

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