Doing Psychophysiology - Howard Iver Thorsheim

Doing Psychophysiology

By Howard Iver Thorsheim

  • Release Date: 2016-03-01
  • Genre: Neuroscience


Whether you are a beginning or advanced student, a beginning or veteran educator, or are engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in other endeavors, Doing Psychophysiology: Getting Started is a quick and snappy start to topics, methods and skills of psychophysiology neuroscience. Psychophysiology neuroscience is the study of the interaction among cognition, emotions, and behavior in diverse contexts. Nine chapters including thirty-nine very brief and multi-touch, highly interactive, media-enhanced modules serve as helpful stepping stones that quickly guide you through the eBook to examine, think critically about, and better understand selected topics in psychophysiology neuroscience.

To you the Student: Psychophysiology is the neuroscience study of the two-way interaction of your mental and emotional processes on the one hand, and their influence on your physical body on the other hand, all within the many daily environmental contexts you find yourself. Throughout the eBook, you are encouraged and assisted to build on your own interests, whatever they are, and link them with psychophysiology and your course. 

To you the Educator: This eBook expands upon and disseminates practical applications of results from two NSF-supported research projects presented in author Thorsheim’s chapter, “Experimental Psychology,” in The Oxford Handbook of Undergraduate Psychology Education (Dunn, 2015).  The content of the Oxford Handbook chapter informed the conception and development of this eBook as an initial spark to engage students and increase their sense of competence in psychophysiology topics, principles, methods, and supportive research-oriented skills.  The eBook builds upon and reinforces understanding of the interrelationship among science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) in the context of psychophysiology mind-body neuroscience.

Judicious selection of content for the brief eBook accommodates your planning time to select portions that support your teaching style and learning goals for your students. Students can easily complete reading assigned portions of the brief eBook along with main course assignments. As an engaging supplement to your course materials, the eBook can serve in a part or entire class period, as an outside-of-class resource in a flipped classroom model, in a structured- or self-paced lab, and also serve in a research lab to provide an introduction to selected psychophysiology topics to augment focused research activities.

The eBook: Approximately 150 richly illustrated leaves (1 or 2 leaves per 82 double pages) make up the enhanced and highly interactive eBook (one or two pages per landscape format page), plus media and an interactive glossary of over 100 technical terms. The author, members of his student team, and renowned researchers demonstrate selected topics, methods and skills for doing psychophysiology. The information is rendered through colorful graphic narratives, illustrative embedded video and audio narration, plus hyperlinks to additional resources. Three virtual video lab tours are included in the e-book, which introduce you to the teams of students and research directors describing their research at the University of Bergen fMRI lab in Bergen, Norway (Kenneth Hughdal), the Davidson College lab in North Carolina (Julio Ramirez), and the Oberlin College lab in Ohio (Al Porterfield). The psychophysiology issue of weightlessness in the environment of outer space and its impact on humans is another of many special features in the eBook. A unique feature is a never-before published audio interview between the author, his students, and Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins about his personal perspectives on life in space after serving as Command Module pilot orbiting the moon as part of the first lunar landing mission along with Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Commander, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. 

Psychophysiology findings have developed so rapidly, and with such remarkable implications, that some findings may at first sound like science fiction, but they are science fact! In this innovative eBook Thorsheim presents selected topics, methods, and research skills of psychophysiology.  Throughout the eBook you are invited to connect your interests with every topic, helping you to learn more about the interactions of your own active brain and active mind: what you like to think about; what you like to do; and how you feel in the many daily environments you live in.

Aspects of five physiological systems serve as the foci of the eBook, which include your cardiovascular, neuromuscular, visual, autonomic nervous system, and central nervous system. Within the context of those systems, the eBook introduces important research topics: research ethics; theory and hypothesis; independent and dependent variables; basic experimental design; exemplar experiments and how to conduct pilot projects; the importance of teamwork and skills for working together in a group; constructing knowledge through collaboration in reading scientific articles; cooperating to write a paper; and collaboration in developing and presenting posters to tell a research story. To connect you with current research the eBook provides links to interesting and useful information about professional organizations, plus references that also illustrate selected formats of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 

The eBook provides a quick start with selected quantitative analysis topics in psychophysiology: electrocardiogram; electroencephalogram; electrooculogram; electromyogram; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); and event related potentials (ERPs). The eBook introduces the importance of understanding, identifying and controlling sources of artifacts that can mask or perturb measurements. “Lab lore” is defined as the accumulated knowledge you gain from experiences that make for an effective lab, with illustrative exemplars: “Why use gloves?” “The amazing electrode,” and “Why use alcohol prep pads?”

The eBook concludes with next steps, including a tool for demonstrating how to connect psychophysiology and psychology topics that can be generalized to any course topics. A Suggestions-to-Author Mailbox is provided for you to share ideas that occur to you when you read the eBook, such as additional content you would like to see in the next edition, and creative approaches you may suggest for the eBook. 

I hope you will enjoy interacting with this engaging and useful eBook!


Howard Iver Thorsheim is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, USA.

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