Saul Sternberg


Professor of Psychology
Office: 332C, 3401 Walnut Street, C-Wing
Brief Biography
Curriculum Vitae

About Seth Roberts (pdf file) picture Seth & Saul (CBC TV Interview, 2006)

Courses and Seminars

Four most recent:

Psychology 399: Independent Research on The Role of Acoustic Feedback in Piano Playing
[a research course for undergraduates].
Description (pdf file)

Psychology 600-302: Proseminar on Human Information Processing
[a seminar for graduate students]

Psychology 357: Experiments in Cognitive Science: Human Information Processing
[a laboratory course for undergraduates].
Link to Class Web-page (and Syllabus)

Psychology 751-302: Topics in the Psychology of Human Attention
[a seminar for graduate students].
Syllabus (pdf file; Acrobat Reader needed)


RT Experimentation (A manual for students)
pdf file (Acrobat Reader needed)

Some Pretty RT Data (To accompany the above manual)
pdf file
More Pretty RT Data
Figure and Caption

MP3 File of Minnesota Public Radio Interview (25 min, 14 MB)
mp3 file

Ftap: A flexible tool for running experiments on music performance and timing, using MIDI and Linux


Human experimental and mathematical psychology.

Visual encoding, attention, and retrieval;
Perception of time and temporal order;
Production of rhythmic patterns;
Control of movement sequences in speech production and typewriting;
Memory search;
Reaction time methods and models;
Decomposition of complex mental processes.


Cognitive Science:

Scarborough, D. & Sternberg, S. (Eds.) (1998)
Invitation to Cognitive Science, Volume 4: Methods, Models, and Conceptual Issues.
MIT Press. Pp. 1-xiv, 1-950.
Description and Table of Contents

Structure of Mental and Neural Processes:

Sternberg, S. & Backus, B. T. (2015) Sequential processes and the shapes of reaction-time distributions
Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (2014) Reaction times and the ex-Gaussian distribution: When is it appropriate?
Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (2013) The meaning of additive reaction-time effects: Some misconceptions.
Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 744. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00744
Text (pdf file)
Enlarged Figure (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (2011) Modular processes in mind and brain. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 28, 156-208.
Table of Contents (pdf file)
Text (pdf file)
Table Giving Features of the Examples (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (2003) Process decomposition from double dissociation of subprocesses. Cortex, 39, 180-182.
(Contribution to Cortex Forum on Double Dissociation. See
(pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (2001) Separate modifiability, mental modules, and the use of pure and composite measures to reveal them.
Acta Psychologica, 106
, 147-246.
Full Article [pdf file; Initial pages (142-146) contain table of contents, lists of examples, tables, figures, equations.]
List of Examples
Analysis of Examples
General Discussion
Primary References

Sternberg, S. (1998) Discovering mental processing stages: The method of additive factors.
In D. Scarborough & S. Sternberg (Eds.) op. cit., Pp. 703-863.

Roberts, S. & Sternberg, S. (1993) The meaning of additive reaction-time effects: Tests of three alternatives.
In D. E. Meyer & S. Kornblum (Eds.) Attention and Performance XIV: Synergies in Experimental Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, and Cognitive Neuroscience. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press. Pp. 611-653
Full Text (pdf file)

Max V. Mathews, David E. Meyer, & Saul Sternberg (1975) Exploring the speed of mental processes.
Bell Laboratories Record, 53, 148-156.
(10.5 MB pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (1973) Evidence against self-terminating memory search from properties of RT distributions.
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, St. Louis, November 1973.
Text (pdf file)
Enlarged Figures

Sternberg, S. (1969) The discovery of processing stages: Extensions of Donders' method.
In W. G. Koster (Ed.), Attention and performance II. Acta Psychologica, 30, 276-315.
Full Text (pdf file)
Update (2009) (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (1964) Estimating the distribution of additive reaction-time components.
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Psychometric Society, October 1964.
Text (pdf file)

Visual Processing and Working Memory:

Sternberg, S. (2016) In defense of high-speed memory scanning.
(Draft: Comments invited.)
(pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (1998) Inferring mental operations from reaction-time data: How we compare objects.
In D. Scarborough & S. Sternberg (Eds.), op. cit., Pp. 365-454.

Pantzer, T. & Sternberg, S. (1998) Effects of display size on mean RT: Serial versus shared-capacity parallel operations.
Poster presented at the Psychonomic Society Meeting, Dallas, November.

Sternberg, S., Knoll, R.L. & Turock, D.L. (1985) Direct access by spatial position in visual memory: 1. Synopsis of principal findings. .
AT&T Bell Laboratories Technical Memorandum.

Sternberg, S. & Knoll, R.L. (1985) Transformation of visual memory revealed by latency of rapid report. AT&T Bell Laboratories Technical Memorandum.

Sternberg, S (1975) Memory scanning: New findings and current controversies. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 27,1-32.
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. & Scarborough, D. L. (1971) Parallel testing of stimuli in visual search.
In A. Gydikov, V. Bakalska, et al. (Eds.) Visual Information Processing and Control of Motor Activity
(Proceedings of the International Symposium, July23rd-26th, 1969 of the Institute of Physiology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences).
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (1969) Memory-scanning: Mental processes revealed by reaction-time experiments.
American Scientist, 57, 421-457.
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (1969) Two invariances in retrieval of contextual information from memory.
Paper presented at EPA, April 1969.
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (1967) Two operations in character recognition: Some evidence from reaction-time measurements.
Perception & Psychophysics, 2, 45-53.
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (1967) Retrieval of contextual information from memory. Psychonomic Science, 8, 55-56.
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. (1966) High-speed scanning in human memory. Science, 153, 652-654.
Full Text (pdf file)

Motor Control:

Sternberg, S., Monsell, S, Knoll, R.L., & Wright, C.E. (1978) The latency and duration of rapid movement sequences: Comparisons of speech and typing.
In G. E. Stelmach (Ed.) Information Processing in Motor Control and Learning. New York: Academic Press. Pp. 117-152.
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S., Wright, C. E., Monsell, S, & Knoll, R.L. (1980) Motor programs in rapid speech: Additional evidence.
In R. A. Cole (Ed.) Perception and production of fluent speech Erlbaum Associates. Pp. 507-534.
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S., Knoll, R.L. Monsell, S. & Wright, C.E. (1988) Motor programs and hierarchical organization in the control of rapid speech. Phonetica, 45, 175-197.
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S., Knoll, R.L., & Turock, D.L. (1990) Hierarchical control in the execution of action sequences: Tests of two invariance principles.
In M. Jeannerod (Ed.) Attention and Performance XIII. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, Pp. 3-55.
Contents and Full Text (pdf file)

Time Perception and Production:

Sternberg, S. & Pantzer, T. (1997) Timing of repeated movements: Test of a two-stage model.
Paper presented at the Psychonomic Society Meeting, Philadelphia, November.

Sternberg, S. & Knoll, R. L. (1984) Perception, production, and imitation of time ratios by skilled musicians.
In J. Gibbon & L. G. Allan (Eds.) Timing and Time Perception. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 423, Pp. 429-441.
Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S., Knoll, R.L. & Zukofsky, P. (1982) Timing by skilled musicians.
In D. Deutsch (Ed.) The psychology of music. New York: Academic Press. Pp. 181-239.
Contents and Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. & Knoll, R. L. (1973) The perception of temporal order: Fundamental issues and a general model.
[Dedicated to the Memory of Robert R. Bush]
In S. Kornblum (Ed.) Attention and performance IV. New York: Academic Press. Pp. 629-685.
Contents and Full Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. & Knoll, R. L., & Gates, B. A. (1971) Prior entry reexamined: Effect of attentional bias on order perception.
Paper presented at the Psychonomic Society Meeting, Philadelphia, November.
Bell Labs Technical Memorandum MM71-1221-17.
Text (pdf file)

Fraud in Science:

Roberts, S. & Sternberg, S. (2003) Do nutritional supplements improve cognitive function in the elderly?
(Letter to the editor of Nutrition, with response from R. K. Chandra)
Text (pdf file)

Sternberg, S. & Roberts, S. (2006) Nutritional supplements and infection in the elderly: Why do the findings conflict?
Nutrition Journal, 5:30. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-5-30.
Text (pdf file)


Paper-and-Pencil "Memory Search" Experiment
plot (pdf file)

Multiplicative Time Distortion
Plots (pdf file)

Means and Variances of Self-Terminating Search:
Effects of Mixing Search Rates Over Trials.
plots (pdf file)

Bricolo et al. (2002): Inferred Search Time Variances.
plots (pdf file)

Variability versus Effect Size in Reaction-Time Experiments.
table (pdf file)

Contribution to Attention and Performance XX (Functional Neuroimaging of Visual Cognition)
Separate Modifiability and the Search for Processing Modules: Text (pdf file)
Figure 1 (TMS example) (pdf file)
Figure 2 (fMRI example) (pdf file)

Reaction-time data relevant to fMRI example (pdf file)
Main Effects in fMRI example (pdf file)

Manual Pages for Parasite System
Parasite Man1 Pages (Commands)
Parasite Man2 Pages [Subroutines (system calls)]
Parasite Man3 Pages [Subroutines (library)]
Parasite Man4 Pages [Special Files (low-level device access)]

Information about PsychLab
PsychLab doc, src, lists

Email: My ID is "saul"; put after the at-sign

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