Matlab for Psychologists – 3-day intensive course at the University of Nottingham

I’ve just come across a fantastic-looking 3-day course running at the University of Nottingham called ‘Matlab for Psychologists‘. The curriculum looks like it starts from the very basics at the beginning of the course, and works up to some fairly advanced material by the end of the three days. The summer course has just finished, but there’s another one due to run in September.

Without a doubt, if you’re a PhD student or post-doc at the beginning of your research career, learning Matlab is certainly one of the most useful things you could possibly learn. You can use it for… well… everything really, since it’s a true, general-purpose programming language, albeit wrapped up in a semi-friendly GUI. Presenting stimuli with the psychophysics toolbox is one really popular usage in psychology research, as is general statistical analysis and plotting, and of course analysing fMRI data with the mighty SPM. If I was a PhD student I’d be begging my supervisor and/or department for the £375 to pay for this course – it’s likely to be some of the best money you’ll ever spend on your education.

The course is run by Antonia Hamilton of Nottingham University, and she also has some really good Matlab resources on her website here.

One other thing – while googling ‘Matlab for Psychologists’ I also came across this book with the same title, which was just published a few months ago. Not a whole-hearted recommendation as I haven’t read it, but it looks like it might be worth checking out if you’re keen to give Matlab a try and can’t get to the course.

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About Matt Wall

I do brains. BRAINZZZZ.

Posted on July 5, 2012, in Experimental techniques, Programming, Software, Study Skills and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. And if I were a PhD student I’d learn a true general purpose language such as Python which has much more to offer, including a zero price tag and really powerful packages for running experiments such as Psychopy (which is developed, ironically, in the very U of Nottingham).

    More seriously though, I am actually a PhD student and do program in Python but keep wondering why it is not yet as widely used in academia. I really doubt Matlab is in any way superior and, in fact, in our lab we’re working hard to help everybody switch to Python.

    • Hi Jonas,

      You really do make an excellent point actually – Python is a really good option for all kinds of purposes. I’m not as familiar with it to be honest – although I have started playing with PsychoPy recently and will probably be using it for a project in the autumn – generally I think it’s really an outstanding piece of experimental software.

      The big advantage with Matlab (as I see it) is the heavy optimisation for matrix computation – this makes it perfect for brain-imaging applications, and if you’re intending to do something like fMRI using SPM I’d still encourage students to learn a bit of Matlab. The downside (as you mention) is of course the price. I’m sure you’re right though, and that Python is probably a better, friendlier option for general-purpose tasks.

      Nice wiki on your lab-page too by the way! Some really good info on all kinds of things there. Thanks for reading.

      • Indeed, I must admit I still use Matlab+SPM for my fMRI analyses, though the main reason is not speed but rather that everybody else in the lab use this combination 🙂 But I could as well use AFNI or FSL and then I’d be free from Matlab+SPM.

        Regarding matrix optimization, there was this comparison done some years ago with a basic conclusion that Python with Numpy is at least as fast as Matlab.

        Thanks for cudos on our wiki. (We’re still developing it.) I think many people are simply intimidated to start on Python when everybody else uses Matlab, so extensive tutorials like this one might lower the threshold.

  2. Also check out NiPy, http://nipy.sourceforge.net/software/projects/ I don’t know much about it but I know a bloke who does! This is a tad embarrassing given that they work around the corner from me…. http://nipyworld.blogspot.com/

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