State-of-the-Art Research Labs
Our laboratories allow psychology students to put in-class instruction immediately into practice using the latest technology.
Human Social Cognition and Behavior Lab (HSCB Lab)
The HSCB Lab at Cedar Crest College includes a variety of useful technology, including:
Computer workstations. The four computer stations in the HSCB Lab are equipped with various software, enabling students the opportunity to develop a variety of research projects.
SuperLab software. This software program allows student-researchers to present stimuli to participants in the form of text, images, sounds and/or video. The researcher can then use the software to record the participants’ responses via a specially designed response board or a standard keyboard. By utilizing this program, students develop programming skills and understand how to create a protocol for collecting data. In addition to being professionally used and respected, SuperLab also offers researchers a means of conducting research that is more environmentally sound than traditional paper-and-pencil surveys and questionnaires, which require the use of large amounts of paper.
Meeting and “focus group” space. A portion of the HSCB Lab can be reconfigured for small groups, presentations, lab meetings and more. With a computer and projector available, this area is ideal for students who wish to do research using a "focus group" format.
An observation room. One of the HSCB conference rooms includes a wall with a one-way mirror that allows students to observe subtle aspects of behavior displayed by people engaged in conversation.
Game-play units. The HSCB Lab has a separate enclosed space that houses two Xbox 360 units, each attached to a 42" plasma-screen TV. Students can utilize this space to examine various aspects of game play behavior.
The highly sensitive instruments in this lab can effectively measure the effects of various internal or external stimuli (i.e., thoughts, words, images, environmental factors), on physiological activities (i.e., heart rate, blood pressure, muscle activity, etc.). Do TV images produce stress inducing (or calming) effects that we may not realize? Can repeated exposure to certain images affect the cardiovascular system? Are there certain thoughts that can trigger a stress response in the absence of a threat? These instruments allow student-researchers to explore the connection between thoughts and emotions and the corresponding physiological responses.
They also enable students to collect objective data regarding mind-body interactions. This data can then be juxtaposed against subjective data (for example, questionnaires), particularly for research purposes. A number of psychology students at Cedar Crest College have utilized psychophysiology instruments as a part of their senior research projects on human behavior, the findings of which were presented at the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges’ Psychology Conference.
Some of the instruments in the psychophysiology measure:
- Cardiac activity
- Peripheral temperature
- Electrodermal activity
- Electromyographic activity
- Blood pressure
- Blood-pulse volume
- Respiratory activity
Animal Learning and Behavior Laboratory
Working with live animals is a unique and rich learning experience that few colleges offer. The Animal Learning and Behavior Laboratory houses a small colony of Long Evans rats that students work with throughout the semester. No rats in this lab are harmed: The rats are used for behavioral research only and are not exposed to any harmful or experimental products.
During the semester, students are responsible for socializing and training their rats on a variety of tasks. For example, each student might be given the task of teaching their rat to perform a small trick such as running through an obstacle course or jumping through hoops. Students also conduct research projects in such areas as habitat usage, feeding behavior, circadian rhythm, and associative conditioning.
The lab is equipped with four operant chambers that are interfaced with computers. Currently, students work with their rats in these operant chambers to apply concepts they learn in class, including schedules of reinforcement, extinction, spontaneous recovery, and more. Students will gain additional experience in empirical procedures for studying associative behavior, cognitive and spatial mapping, and procedural distinctions between operant and instrumental conditioning through the use of mazes and puzzle boxes.
At the end of the semester, many rats are adopted by their student-caretakers, and the remaining animals are adopted out to loving homes in the local community.