The materials on this page are the copyright of the Bodleian Libraries and the Oxford University Department of Experimental Psychology.
Before Computer Science
Electro-mechanical instruments were used for recording physiological responses of participants. Some psychologists designed their own devices to carry out their research (Kenneth Craik, William McDougall). Their instruments would then be manufactured by C.F. Palmer Ltd, one of the major commercial firms supplying physiological apparatus for experimental science. Instruments for psychology appeared in their 1934 catalogue.
Sykes, A.H. (1995) A short history of C.F. Palmer (London) Ltd, physiological instrument makers. Journal of Medical Biography, Vol. 3, Part 4, pp. 225-231.
Click here to view its whole collection of psychological instruments.
Computers are used to measure brain activity in a number of brain imaging techniques. These techniques allow researchers to see how areas of the brain are responding when a participant performs specific cognitive tasks. They are non-invasive and facilitate observation and “measuring the human brain at work”.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Button Box - This technique allows behavioural responses (reaction time, accuracy) to be collected from a psychological or psychophysical task with high precision.