Programming with Python for Experiments and Simulations in Psychology

Course overview

This is a 40 hour training course on how to use the Python programming language to create custom programs for behavioral experiments, computational models of psychological processes, data processing, and statistical analyses. The course is targeted toward advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty in experimental psychology. No prior programming experience is assumed, but some experience in scripting languages such as SAS, MATLAB, or E-Basic will help.

Main text:
Downey, A. (2008). Think Python: An introduction to software design. Needham, MA: Green Tea Press.

Course outline

Module 1 - Basics
Module 2 - Program design and flow
Module 3 - Algorithms and strings
Module 4 - Data structures: Lists, dictionaries, and tuples
Module 5 - Reading and writing data files
Module 6 - Numeric and scientific computing with Python
Module 7 - Object-oriented programming (OOP)
Module 8 - Graphic Interfaces
  • Lesson 30 - Case study: Tkinter (Chap 19)
  • Lesson 31 - More about Tkinter
  • Lesson 32 - Other GUI tools
  • Hands on project: Programming an Experiment
Module 9 - Other Python libraries for behavioral scientists
  • PyEPL - The Python Experimental Programming Library
  • SymPy - A Python Computer Algebra System (CAS)
  • PyDSTool - simulation package for dynamical systems
  • Imaging
    • PIL - The Python Imaging Library
    • Visual Python
  • Interfaces to hardware and other software ackages
    • PyLink - Interface to EyeLink eye tracking hardware
    • RPy - Interface to the R programming language
    • RSPython - Another interface to R
    • PyMat - Interface to MATLAB
    • PYML - Interface to Mathematica


Python websites

Python Software Foundation (

Python Tutorial by Guido van Rossum

Python Language Reference Manual

Numpy Example List with Documentation


The University of Oklahoma
Human Learning and Memory Lab
Department of Psychology, 455 W. Lindsey, Room 705, Norman, OK 73019
Phone 405.325.2599 | Fax 405.325.4737 |

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Last updated: 10:30 Mon Sep 21, 2009

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