Psych Department Colloquium – Fri 11/16 at 2 pm in Hauser 029

We’ll be hosting the first research colloquium of the semester, with our own Dr. Oskar Pineño demonstrating the Skinner box he’s built.  The colloquium will be Friday, Nov. 16 at 2pm in Hauser 29.  Refreshments will be served.  

Building a low-cost and open-source Skinner box using an iPod Touch and an Arduino micro-controller

Oskar Pineño, Psychology Department, Hofstra University

Abstract: The operant chamber, most commonly known as the Skinner box, remains the standard instrument for the experimental study of animal behavior. However, the high cost of this device from regular providers makes it difficult, or even unaffordable, for many young researchers to set up an animal laboratory. The price of this device might also be a problem for psychology instructors wishing to provide their students with hands-on experience with the basic principles of animal behavior. Fortunately, recent technological developments have made it possible for anyone with knowledge in programming and electronics to build this equipment from scratch with relative ease. In this talk, Dr. Pineño will introduce his own “Skinner box,” made using an iPod Touch and an Arduino micro-controller. This box, although rather limited still in its current capabilities, has multiple advantages: it costs a fraction of the standard Skinner box, it is made of components that can be reused for other projects at any time, and it can be modified and/or expanded when necessary. Also, it is open source, which means that anyone is invited to build it, change it, and improve it. Following an informal discussion on this “Skinner box,” Dr. Pineño will discuss future plans and ideas for this and other projects employing this technology.

Biosketch: Oskar Pineño is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hofstra University. His main area of interest is the study of learning and behavior both in humans and nonhuman animals, but he is also greatly interested in cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, and computational models of cognition and behavior.

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