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Indiana University Bloomington
James T. Townsend Lab
Department of Psychology
Home > Coursework and Student Training

Courses and Seminars, taught primarily at the graduate level:

1. Mathematical psychology, especially:
A. Signal detection theory including the statistical decision as well as the ideal observer accounts.
B. Multidimensional signal detection theory and general recognition theory.
C. Methodologies that identify mental mechanisms of cognitions and decision making based on response times including parallel vs. serial processing, counting models, diffusion models and probability mixtures, stopping rules, independence vs. dependence, and limited vs. limited vs. super capacity.

2. Dynamic systems theory:
A. Linear and nonlinear dynamic systems.
B. Stability theory.
C. Catastrophe theory.
D. Chaos theory.
E. Topological dynamics.

3. Foundational measurement:
A. Scale types.
B. Representation theorems.
C. Uniqueness theorems.
D. Conjoint measurement.
E. Interfaces with psychometrics, psychophysics, statistics, and mathematical modeling.

4. Differential geometry:
A. Curvature of spaces.
B. Geodesic distances.
C. Non-Euclidean metrics.
D. Tangent maps.

5. Seminars on:
A. Face and emotional expression perception.
B. Configural vs. non-configural cognition.
C. Advanced dynamics.


Jim Townsend is the primary advisor for several graduate students in the areas of Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science and on the faculty committees or serving as co-advisor for several students in Clinical Science. Clinical science graduate students and postdoctoral fellows regularly attend reading groups on quantitative modeling held in the Townsend Laboratory of Mathematical Psychology.

Townsend has been training students and postdocs since 1966, both as major advisor and co-advisor. His numerous Ph.D.s and postdoctoral fellows have assumed positions in academia and industry.

One of his early Ph.D.s, F. Gregory Ashby, is a leading figure in mathematical modeling, especially categorization and, more lately, in modeling neuropsychological processes in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's syndrome. He is currently Professor of Psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara.

A former postdoctoral fellow from the Townsend lab is Dr. Michael Wenger, Associate Professor of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University. He won the APA Young Investigator Award and is currently a Co-PI with Townsend on a major NIMH research grant on modeling configurality and gestalt perception.

A recent postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Ami Eidels, is now a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle. Dr. Eidels is also Co-PI of the Newcastle Cognition Lab.

Dr. Robin Thomas earned her Ph.D. with Townsend in the mid-90s, won the APA Young Investigator Award, and is now Associate Professor of Psychology at Miami University, Ohio.

Dr. Jesse Spencer-Smith, a recent Ph.D., won a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the famed Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois and has accepted a position in the Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Mario Fific, another recent Ph.D., completed a postdoctoral research position with Dr. Robert Nosofsky at Indiana University. Dr. Fific is currently a research scientist at the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

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Last updated: 27 February 2024
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