In the Spring semester, I teach PS/NE212 – Introduction to MATLAB Programming for Research in Psychological & Brain Sciences.
This course is intended for students who have not already mastered a computer programming language. It will be most useful for students who recognize that programming is a part of the broader skill set needed to conduct research in Psychology and Neuroscience. In the course, the MATLAB ecosystem serves as a vehicle for learning computer programming concepts that are useful in the context of applications of computer programming to scientific research.
Three broad categories of such applications are: (1) conducting computer-controlled experiments; (2) conducting computer-assisted data and signal processing, including statistical analyses; and (3) conducting computer-assisted simulations of natural systems, e.g., functional brain circuits. The goal of the course is to help all students acquire basic skills that will enable them to use MATLAB for these three categories of applications. However, whereas applications (1) and (3) are open-ended, and highly specialized according to the agendas/methods of particular research labs, application (2) – computer-assisted data and signal processing, including statistical analyses – involves skills that are more universally applicable. Therefore, application category (2) will be given the most attention.
Other courses (e.g., NE204, CN510, CN530, NE330, NE340, NE360) often include further exposure to MATLAB for application (3), and undergraduate and graduate opportunities in research laboratories often involve further exposure to MATLAB for application category (1).