New Psychology Lab Stirs Aging Mem Hall Into Life

Workmen Turn Cavernous Unused Cellar into Fluorescent-Lighted Home For Modern Laboratory of Reorganized Psychology Department; Wartime Psycho-Acoustic Plant Was First Step in Project

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In preparation for the removal of Professor Boring's offices and equipment, the larger part of the basement of memorial Hall is now a dynamo of construction, with electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and masons turning the musty old caverns into modernistic, glass bricked offices and halls. Where once NROTC students disassembled artillery pieces and fired on the small rifle range, office, shops, conference rooms and an animal room for white rats, are being marked off with cement blocks and plaster. The old kitchen, which fed over a thousand college men a day, from 1874 to the late Twenties, when the now gloomy home of final examinations was the College Commons, is now turning into psychology library, an undergraduate laboratory and a lecture room seating 100 students.

Fitting a modern laboratory into the construction ideals f the 1870's has been no easy job, as Stevens can well testify, Regardless of the opinions of latter day aspiring architects and Fine Arts students, Memorial Hall was built to last. Basement partitions measure four to five feet thick and are built of slabs of rock as well as brick. Pneumatic drills have been needed more than once to put in doors, ventilators, and staircases, as called for in the blueprints. The only visible change on the exterior of this monument will be the main entrance to the Laboratory, which will be on the left side of the main south entrance to the first floor. Few things have been overlooked in this undertaking which includes a pantry adjacent to the seminar room as part of a program of applied "psychology." According to Professor Boring, students generally respond favorably to this type of stimulus and the atmosphere is set for lively intellectual exchange.

Looking to the long range plans and the future, professor Boring remarked that "this is a period in which Psychology is being re oriented at Harvard." He said that he felt that the division of the department was beneficial, and he hoped that the groups in the Memorial Hall establishment would work in close harmony on their various research projects. In spite of what appears to be a further departmentalizing of science, the work in the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory, for example, has called on the talents of doctors, engineers, physicists, as well as psychologists. Further Research Planned

Though plans for research in the physiological and psychological divisions are as yet indefinite because of the readjustment and lack of critical personnel, the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory is looking forward to intensive basic research in aural rehabilitation for deafness in war causalities of which there are 40,000. "The ultimate aim of this work is to find out how the car works," Professor Stevens remarked and added that a great deal was still unknown in this field of research.

Another remarkable development of wartime research was a microphone so tiny that it could be inserted into the car to determine the intensity of sound at various points near the surface of the eardrum. A further discovery was that hearing aids are not improved by being adjusted to particular frequencies depending on the individual's type of hearing loss. It was found that complete amplification of al levels of sound was more satisfactory to those suffering frm partial deafness In spite of this probing in the tender zones of the car, and the exposure of some subjects to noise approaching 140 decibels (a point at which sound becomes highly painful) no subjects suffered permanent hearing disability. Conscientious Objectors who offered themselves for this experimentation proved invaluable, Stevens stated.

With a new lease on life in the form of 50 percent more working space and recognition of its scientific nature, the department will put into operation this winter a laboratory, which in its anticipated 30 years of service, may well bring developments which would be as starting to people today as the intricate devices in Memorial hall would appear to the venerable professors who moved into the first planed psychology laboratory atop Emerson Hall in 1905.