In 1888, after studying in the leading European centers of a newly emerging discipline, future IU president William Lowe Bryan planted the seeds of the "new psychology" in his native state by setting up a single psychological laboratory in the IU Department of Philosophy. Then as now, the new field served as an interdisciplinary hub-literally occupying the space of both philosophy and science, with collaborative coursework with faculty in biology, sociology, and pedagogy and practical labwork with those in chemistry and physics. Its strong bent toward educational theory, the science of learning, and child development would set the stage for a future school of education and remain consistent pursuits in the department.
Now at the cusp of cutting-edge research, the psychological and brain sciences department finds itself at the cross-section of the nearly infinite number of disciplines currently brought to bear on the astonishing complexity of mind and brain.
That single, original laboratory-now the longest continuing psychology laboratory in the US-laid the ground for an expansive enterprise that now extends beyond a single building and into multiple research facilities. That laboratory’s single piece of equipment, a Hipp chronoscope used to measure human reaction-time in early experiments on sound, likewise paved the way for a host of sophisticated new experimental technology-neuroimaging techniques, tools for genetic analysis, virtual reality and other sophisticated internet technology designed to investigate the cognitive and physiological underpinnings of behavior and brain functions, social and developmental psychology, theories of cognition and contemporary neuroscience, all of which ignite the interests of the psychological and brain sciences department today.
At 125 years, at this pivotal moment from which to reflect on this past and anticipate the future, this anniversary creates an opportunity to launch the department into another 125 years of ground-breaking research and further establish its place and legacy as a major center for psychological and scientific investigation.
Join us as we celebrate what science historian James Capshew called in his centennial history of the department, "the legacy of the laboratory." Stay tuned throughout the year as we honor this 125-year milestone with special anniversary newsletters, social media callouts, and further invitations to rejoin and reconnect with the PBS community.
A brief history of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences from IU Psych on Vimeo.
And we've also dug up a series of pictures from the Department, the late 1970's.