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Sensation and Perception

Purpose of Course  showclose

Sensation and perception are the processes by which we absorb information from environmental stimuli and convert it into data that our brains and bodies use to modify behavior. This course will introduce you to these two closely related, though distinct, processes. We will begin with sensation, the physical process by which we use our sense organs (i.e. tongues for taste or noses for smell) to respond to the environmental stimuli around us. Perception, on the other hand, refers to our interpretation of stimuli. It occurs through cognitive processing and enables us to use information in order to change our behavior. While these processes may seem simple, they are just the opposite: large portions of the brain are devoted to the seemingly straightforward processes of seeing and hearing, and entire sensory organs have developed in order to facilitate them. Further, while the brain is constantly using the information it gathers to make decisions, we are entirely unaware of this activity. Unbelievably, studying illusions is one of the easiest ways to learn about how we process stimuli (especially visual stimuli). We will accordingly devote a substantial amount of time to illusions later in this course.

In this course, you will not only learn how we use sensation and perception to understand the world around us, but identify the ways in which these processes can fail. We will take a close look at how we use specific behaviors in the presence of certain stimuli by learning about the biology of both the hearing system and the visual system (we will learn, for example, how the visual system measures light, how it sees color and motion, and how it recognizes distinct objects). We will conclude with a discussion of how the other senses (smell, taste, and touch) affect perception.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to PSYCH306. Below, please find general information on the course and its requirements.

Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of different free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction’s “Photoreceptors”
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction’s “Targets of the Optic Nerve
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction’s “Receptive Fields, from the Retina to the Cortex”
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction’s “The Various Visual Cortexes”
  • Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”
  • Pearson Education’s “LIVE!Psych: Virtual Tour of the Human Ear”
  • Pearson Education’s “LIVE!Psych: Virtual Tour of the Human Eye”
  • Sinauer Associates, Inc.’s “Sensation and Perception”
  • Stanford University: Professor Alex Huk’s “Object and Face Recognition: Lecture Notes”
  • Stanford University: Professor Alex Huk’s “Seeing Motion: Lecture Notes”
  • Stanford University: Professor Lera Boroditsky’s “Hearing I: Lecture Notes”
  • Stanford University: Professor Lera Boroditsky’s “Hearing II: Lecture Notes”
  • Stanford University: Professor Lera Boroditsky’s “Taste, Smell, and Touch: Lecture Notes”
  • Sumanas, Inc.’s “Receptive Fields in the Retina”
  • Sumanas, Inc.’s “Receptors in the Skin”
  • Sumanas, Inc.’s “Sound Transduction”
  • Sumanas, Inc.’s “Visual Pathways in the Human Brain”
  • UC Berkeley: Instructor John Kihlstrom’s “Sensation and Perception I” Lecture
  • UC Berkeley: Instructor John Kihlstrom’s “Sensation and Perception II” Lecture
  • YouTube: “The Electromagnetic Spectrum”
  • YouTube: BBC’s “Baby Synapse Connection”
  • YouTube: Brandon Pletsch’s “Auditory Transduction”
  • YouTube: Cassiopeia Project’s “Photon”
  • YouTube: Derek Owens’ “Physical Science 7.3a – The Nature of Light”
  • YouTube: Derek Owens’ “Physical Science 7.3b – Light Waves Part 1”
  • YouTube: Derek Owens’ “Physical Science 7.3c – Light Waves Part 2”
  • YouTube: Derek Owens’ “Physical Science 7.3d – Is Light a Particle?”
  • YouTube: Peter Vishton’s “Development of Infant Visual Tracking. Activity 1” from “What Babies Can Do: An Activity-Based Guide to Infant Development”

Requirements for Completion: To complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. You will also need to complete the Final Exam.

To “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 116 hours to complete. Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.



Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • describe the sensory systems;
  • distinguish between sensation and perception;
  • explain how sensory and perceptual processes shape our experience of “reality;”
  • explain the basic principles of classical psychophysics;
  • explain how sensation and perception relate to cognition;
  • explain how human sensory systems respond to energy in the physical environment (i.e. light waves, air pressure, chemical molecules, etc.), transforming it into a perceptual experience that the brain can understand (i.e. sight, sound, smell, etc.);
  • compare and contrast the major theoretical perspectives on sensation and perception, including direct perception, indirect perception, and the information processing perspective;
  • compare and contrast the five sensory systems in terms of their sensory/anatomical setup and perceptual organization;
  • explain the roles of evolution, development, society, prior knowledge, and inference in our perceptual judgments and our conscious experiences;
  • identify and define the leading terms, concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in the study of sensation and perception;
  • compare and contrast psychological principles, theories, and methods as they pertain to sensory and neurological systems;
  • critically read, understand, and evaluate scientific literature, understand and use scientific and technical vocabulary, and synthesize information from multiple sources.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    use either Windows XP, Mac OS X 10.4.x or, a more recent operating system;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft Office files and documents (doc, ppt, xls, docx, pptx, xlsx, etc.);

√    be competent in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook;

√    have completed PSYCH101and PSYCH202A.
 
*NOTE: Completion of PSYCH203/BIO101is recommended but not required.

Unit Outline show close


Expand All Resources Collapse All Resources
  • Unit 1: An Introduction to Sensation and Perception  

    You might call the study of sensation and perception the study of reality. When you take in and process sensory information, your brain is creating a picture of reality that enables you to go about your daily life, making decisions and performing actions. Over the course of their evolution, the human brain and the sense organs that deliver information to it have become increasingly adept at this. In this unit, you will learn about the sense organs, the information that they pick up, and the different ways the brain processes that information. We will also discuss this field of study more generally, looking at its historical development, its most commonly used methods, and a number of its current theories.

    Unit 1 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 1 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 1.1 What Do Sensing and Perceiving Do for Us?  
  • 1.1.1 The Ecological View  
  • 1.1.2 Perception as Problem Solving  
  • 1.2 Reality Testing  
  • 1.2.1 Do Our Senses Convey Reality?  
  • 1.3 An Overview of the Sensory Systems  
  • 1.3.1 The Eye and Vision  
  • 1.3.2 The Ear and Hearing (Audition)  
  • 1.3.3 The Tongue and Taste (Gustation)  
  • 1.3.4 The Nose and Smell (Olfaction)  
  • 1.3.5 The Skin and Touch (Somatosensation)  
  • 1.3.6 The Body Senses (Proprioception)  
    • Reading: New World Encyclopedia’s “Proprioception”

      Link: New World Encyclopedia’s “Proprioception” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page and read sections #1, #2, and #5 of this topic. Note the important differences between proprioception and kinesthesia, and also what happens when our proprioceptive sense is impaired.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

  • 1.3.7 The Sense of Balance (Equilibrioception)  
  • 1.4 Evolutionary Processes in Sensation and Perception  
  • 1.4.1 The Theory of Natural Selection  
  • 1.4.2 How Natural Selection Shaped our Senses  
  • 1.4.3 The Evolution of Perception  
  • 1.4.4 The Brain, Perception and the Development of Separate Structures  
  • 1.5 Historical Perspectives  
  • 1.5.1 The Beginnings of Sensation and Perception Research  
  • 1.5.2 Developments in the 20th Century: Modern Psychophysics  

    Note: The next unit will present you with a more detailed account of psychophysics, but it played an important role in the development of sensation and perception as a field, and is thus worth noting here.

    • Reading: Internet Psychology Lab’s “Visual Perception”

      Link: Internet Psychology Lab’s “Visual Perception” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the main page. Once there, click the top button in the column on the left of the main window labeled “Signal Detection.” On the subsequent page, read the brief introduction then click the “Signal Detection” text link in the middle of the page. Read each subsequent page, using the “Next” text link to move through the four pages. Do not do the Signal Detection Experiment at this time; instead, focus on why signal detection is an important phenomenon in the study of sensation and perception.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

  • 1.5.3 Philosophical Positions in Perception  
  • Unit 2: Psychophysics  

    The term “psychophysics” refers to the methods and techniques that researchers use when studying sensation and perception. This field is unique in that researchers rarely have directly accessible, hard evidence with which to work. Take, for example, the following question: “Is the color I think of as green the same color that others think of as green?” The researcher will have to come up with some unique research methods to find an answer to this highly subjective question. This unit will take a close look at psychophysics and its methodologies.

    Unit 2 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 2 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 2.1 What is Psychophysics?  
  • 2.1.1 Detection of a Stimulus  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 and the reading assigned for subunit 2.1 also cover this subunit

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Interactive Illustration 2.x: Basic Ideas”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Interactive Illustration 2.x: Basic Ideas” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page displaying a black, white, and grey “grating.” The grating is a series of dark and light vertical bars displayed across your computer screen. Click the text link “Instructions” in the upper left corner and follow the directions. As you increase the size of the movement with the slider at the bottom of the page, it should be easier for you to detect the horizontal movement of the grating. Keep doing this until you get a good feel for the relationship between your accuracy and the degree of movement you are trying to detect.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original from here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

  • 2.1.2 Discrimination of a Stimulus  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 and the reading assigned for subunit 2.1 also cover this subunit.

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Discrimination Threshold, or JND”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Discrimination Threshold, or JND” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above or the link on page #3 of the “Chapter 2” PDF document for the embedded activity called “Experiment 2.x: Discrimination Threshold, or JND.” If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page displaying a black, white, and grey “grating.” The grating is a series of dark and light vertical bars displayed across your computer screen. Click the text link “Instructions” in the upper left corner and follow the directions. There are 25 trials, and please continue the experiment until the program provides your results in graphical form on the last page. You should see that your accuracy increased with the size of the difference in movement of the two gratings. This is a basic discrimination experiment.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original from here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

  • 2.1.3 Psychophysical Experiments: How are they Conducted?  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 and the reading assigned for subunit 2.1 also cover this subunit.

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Interactive Illustration 2.x: Asking Questions”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Interactive Illustration 2.x: Asking Questions” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above or the link on page #5 of the “Chapter 2” PDF document for the embedded activity called “Interactive Illustration 2.x: Asking Questions.” If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page displaying a black, white, and grey “grating.” The grating is a series of dark and light vertical bars displayed across your computer screen. Click the text link “Instructions” in the upper left corner and follow the directions. As you progress through each trial, notice how your introspective feedback differs from the quantitative measurement.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original from here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

  • 2.1.4 Threshold Psychophysics  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 and the reading assigned for subunit 2.1 also cover this subunit.

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Absolute Threshold”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Absolute Threshold” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above or the link on page #3 of the “Chapter 2” PDF document for the embedded activity called “Experiment 2.x: Absolute Threshold.” If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page displaying a black, white, and grey “grating.” The grating is a series of dark and light vertical bars displayed across your computer screen. Click the text link “Instructions” in the upper left corner and follow the directions. There are 25 trials, and continue the experiment until the program provides your results in graphical form on the last page. You should see that your accuracy increased with the size of the movement. This is a basic detection experiment.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

  • 2.2 Psychophysical Methods  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit

  • 2.2.1 Method of Limits  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Method of Limits”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Method of Limits” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above or the link on page #7 of the “Chapter 2” PDF document for the embedded activity called “Experiment 2.x: Method of Limits.” If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page where you need to make a number of settings choices. Click the text link “Instructions” in the upper left corner and follow the directions. Please be patient; psychophysical methods require many trials. You may repeat the experiment with different settings as many times as you like.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

  • 2.2.2 Method of Constant Stimuli  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

  • 2.2.3 Method of Adjustment  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Method of Adjustment”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Method of Adjustment” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above or the link on page #9 of the “Chapter 2” PDF document for the embedded activity called “Experiment 2.x: Method of Adjustment.” If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page where you need to make a number of settings choices. Click the text link “Instructions” in the upper left corner and follow the directions. Please be patient; psychophysical methods require many trials. You may repeat the experiment with different settings as many times as you like.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

  • 2.2.4 Forced Choice Techniques  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

  • 2.2.5 Signal Detection Theory  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

  • 2.3 Psychophysical Laws  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

  • 2.3.1 Weber’s Law  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

  • 2.3.2 Fechner’s Law  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

  • 2.3.3 Stevens’ Law  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

  • 2.3.4 The Law of Magnitude Estimation  

    Note: The introductory reading assigned at the start of unit 2 also covers this subunit.

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Magnitude Estimation”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Magnitude Estimation” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above or the link on page #16 of the “Chapter 2” PDF document for the embedded activity called “Experiment 2.x: Magnitude Estimation.” If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page where you need to make a number of settings choices. Click the text link “Instructions” in the upper left corner and follow the directions. Please be patient; psychophysical methods require many trials. You may repeat the demonstration with different settings as many times as you like.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original from here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Magnitude Estimation 2”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Experiment 2.x: Magnitude Estimation 2” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above or the link on page #16 of the “Chapter 2” PDF document for the embedded activity called “Experiment 2.x: Magnitude Estimation 2.” If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page where you need to make a number of settings choices. Click the text link “Instructions” in the upper left corner and follow the directions. Please be patient; psychophysical methods require many trials. You may repeat the demonstration with different settings as many times as you like.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

  • Unit 3: The Visual System: Sensory Mechanisms  

    Earlier in this course, we spoke generally about different sense organs and the ways in which researchers can test them. We will now take a closer look at one of the most important sensory systems: vision. In its simplest terms, the eye translates light information into the complex pictures we see. The visual system includes the structures and processes that underlie our interaction with much of the world around us. Under normal circumstances, most of us consider vision our primary sense modality. With this in mind, we will first discuss the reception of visual information (sensation). The subsequent unit will cover how we use visual information once it has been received (perception).

    Unit 3 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 3 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 3.1 The Visual Stimulus: Properties of Light  
  • 3.1.1 What is Light?: Light as Both Wave and Particle  
  • 3.1.2 Photons  
  • 3.1.3 Wavelength  
  • 3.1.4 What is the Range of Light?  
  • 3.1.5 Range of Light: What Can Others See?  
  • 3.1.6 What Changes Light?  
  • 3.2 The Eye: Capturing and Focusing Light  
    • Reading: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Read from the section titled “The Eye” near the bottom of page 3.3 through “Comparing Eyes” on page 3.7. NOTE: This document is in a continuous state of updating. Please ignore the internal notes, such as “[need illustration here],” for example. Most of the referenced figures are included at the end of the document; it is okay if not all the figures are available.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

    • Assessment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Interactive Illustration 3.x: Basic Focusing” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above or the link on page #4 of the “Chapter 3” PDF document for the embedded activity called “Interactive Illustration 3.x: Basic Focusing.” If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page where you can demonstrate how the eye captures and focuses light. Click the text link “Instructions” in the upper left corner and follow the directions. Please be patient; psychophysical methods require many trials. You may repeat the demonstration with different settings as many times as you like.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original from here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

  • 3.3 Anatomy of a Human Eye  
  • 3.3.1 Basic Structures and Functions  
    • Web Media: LensShopper.com’s “Anatomy of the Eye”

      Link: LensShopper.com’s “Anatomy of the Eye” (Adobe Flash and HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page. On the diagram of the human eye, click each labeled structure and, in turn, read the description.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above document and webpage.

  • 3.3.2 What is the Blind Spot?  
  • 3.4 Diseases of the Eye  
  • 3.4.1 Glaucoma  
    • Reading: All About Vision’s “Glaucoma”

      Link: All About Vision’s “Glaucoma” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page and read the main text about the disease called glaucoma.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above document and webpage.

  • 3.4.2 Cataracts  
  • 3.4.3 Macular Degeneration  
  • 3.5 Optics  
  • 3.5.1 Visual Angle  
  • 3.5.2 Optical Power and the Accommodation of the Eyes  
    • Reading: The Physics Classroom’s “The Eye”

      Link: The Physics Classroom’s “The Eye” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page and read the main text. It is important to understand how the lenses in our eyes change in response to, or “accommodate,” various visual stimuli and general visual conditions.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above document and webpage.

  • 3.6 The Retina  
  • 3.6.1 Rods and Cones  
  • 3.6.2 Light and Color Vision  
  • 3.7 Transduction of Visual Information  
  • 3.7.1 Conversion of Light Energy  
  • 3.7.2 Photon Absorption  

    Note: The reading and assignments beneath subunit 3.7.1 cover this subunit. Pay particular attention to the information at the target of the link on the right titled cascade of chemical reactions in these photoreceptors.”

  • 3.7.3 Electrical Response of the Photoreceptors  

    Note: The reading and assignments beneath subunit 3.7.1 cover this subunit. The figure at the bottom of the main web page describes this process.

  • 3.7.4 Rhodopsin  

    Note: The reading and assignments beneath subunit 3.7.1 cover this subunit. 

  • 3.8 Light and Dark Adaptation  
  • 3.8.1 Time to Adaptation: Gradual Processing  
  • 3.8.2 Importance of Rods and Cones  

    Note: The reading and assignments beneath subunit 3.8.1 cover this subunit. See especially the section titled The Duplex Theory of Vision,” which begins on page #4. This explains how our color vision and night vision require two different receptor systems.

  • 3.8.3 The Retina in Light and Dark Adaptation  

    Note: The reading and assignments beneath subunit 3.8.1 cover this subunit. See Dark and Light Adaptation, starting on page #7 for information on how rods and cones respond to changes in overall light levels.

  • 3.9 Visual Pathways in the Central Nervous System: How Does the Information Get to the Brain and Where Does it Go?  
  • 3.9.1 Photoreceptor Signals  
  • 3.9.2 Retinal Ganglion Cells  
  • 3.9.3 Parallel Pathways and the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (LGN)  
  • 3.9.4 The Primary Visual Cortex (V1)  
  • 3.9.5 Secondary Visual Areas  
  • Unit 4: The Visual System: Perceptual Mechanisms  

    In this unit, we will look at how humans are able to see and interpret complex stimuli like color, motion, and multiple dimensions. Note that not all animals are capable of seeing these stimuli; the human ability to do so has been instrumental in our evolution. Over the course of this unit, keep in mind what you have learned about the different aspects of our visual pathways, asking how they might play a role in the interpretation of these stimuli.

    Unit 4 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 4 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 4.1 Color  
    • Reading: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Read chapter 6. NOTE: This document is in a continuous state of updating. Please ignore the internal notes, such as “[need illustration here],” for example. Most of the referenced figures are included at the end of the document; it is okay if not all the figures are available. ADDITIONAL NOTE: This reading applies to all subsections of section 4.1.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

  • 4.1.1 What is Color? Light Intensity and Wavelength  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 4.1.2 Wavelengths and Perception: The Creation of Color  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 4.1.3 The Difference Between Lights and Pigments  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 4.1.4 Different Colors  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 4.1.5 Chromatic and Achromatic Color  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.1 also covers this subunit. This information is mostly in section III about the idea of color opponency. It is very important to understand this concept.

  • 4.1.6 Brightness vs. Saturation  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.1 also covers this subunit. Colors can have both intensity (brightness) and richness/depth (saturation). The first section of the assigned reading covers these concepts.

  • 4.2 Seeing Color  
  • 4.2.1 Trichromacy Theory  
  • 4.2.2 The Importance of Metamers  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.2.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 4.2.3 Opponent-Process Theory  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.2.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 4.2.4 Color Constancy  
  • 4.2.5 Opponent and Double-Opponent Processes  
  • 4.2.6 Deficits of Color Perception  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.2.1 also covers this subunit. See section IV, paying special attention to the relationship between color blindness and the opponent process theory of color vision.

  • 4.3 Motion  
  • 4.3.1 What is Motion: Change in Position over Time  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.3 covers this subunit. Motion has direction and speed. Additionally, we can classify motion according to type. Be sure to review the various types of motion carefully.

  • 4.3.2 Simple Translation  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.3 covers this subunit. This type of motion has to do with the simple picture that arrives at your retina.

  • 4.3.3 Complex vs. Apparent Motion  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.3 covers this subunit. As the name suggests, apparent motion is not really motion at all. Be sure to consider why such phenomena help us understand motion perception.

  • 4.3.4 Stroboscopic Motion  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.3 covers this subunit. This kind of motion also is not real motion. Can you imagine a world in which we could not experience stroboscopic motion?

  • 4.3.5 Aftereffects of Motion  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.3 covers this subunit. Understand why watching movement in one scene can lead to the perception of movement in another, static scene.

  • 4.3.6 Optic Flow  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.3 covers this subunit. Optic flow is about how images move across your retina as you move through the world. You should understand how this helps us navigate through our daily lives.

  • 4.3.7 Induced Movement  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.3 covers this subunit. Have you ever felt like you were moving when the car next to you began to move? What does this phenomenon suggest about our perception of movement?

  • 4.3.8 Object Motion  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.3 covers this subunit. Not all motion perception involves the movement of objects, but this is still one of the major features of how we perceive movement.

  • 4.4 Seeing Motion  
  • 4.4.1 Motion Detectors in the V1  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.4 covers this subunit. This portion of the reading covers the cortical processing of movement by detector cells in the primary visual cortex.

  • 4.4.2 Directionally-Selective Receptors  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.4 covers this subunit. Be sure to watch the linked movie (see the link movie in section 2) for a demonstration of motion aftereffect.

  • 4.4.3 The Extrastriate Area and Pattern Cells  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.4 covers this subunit. Area MT in the extrastriate contains movement-sensitive cells called pattern cells. Follow the various links in section 3 for additional information and demonstrations.

  • 4.4.4 Extrastriate Area and Motion Aftereffects  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.4 covers this subunit. Not all motion perception involves the movement of objects, but this is still one of the major features of how we perceive movement.

  • 4.4.5 Observer Motion: Relative Motion to Observer  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.4 covers this subunit. Follow the link in section 5 to see the optic flow field for a pilot landing a plane.

  • 4.4.6 Changing Light Pattern in the Retina  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.4 covers this subunit. J.J. Gibson had an interesting perspective on the perception of movement. Try to integrate this with our earlier discussion of Gibsons ideas about sensation and perception.

  • 4.4.7 Eye Movements  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.4 covers this subunit. Be sure you understand why it is important that our eyes move almost continuously.

  • 4.4.8 Corollary Discharge  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.4 covers this subunit. Be able to answer the following question: Although our eyes are almost constantly moving, how do we perceive a basically steady world?

  • 4.5 Seeing in Three Dimensions  
    • Reading: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Read chapter 8. NOTE: This document is in a continuous state of updating. Please ignore the internal notes, such as “[need illustration here],” for example. Most of the referenced figures are included at the end of the document; it is okay if not all the figures are available. ADDITIONAL NOTE: This reading applies to all subsections of section 4.5.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: In turn, click on each of the interactive illustrations in chapter 8 and follow the directions. Please ignore the internal notes, such as “[need illustration here],” for example. Most of the referenced figures are included at the end of the document; it is okay if not all the figures are available. ADDITIONAL NOTE: This assignment applies to subsections 4.5.1-4.5.7.

      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

  • 4.5.1 From 2-D Images to a 3-D Construction  

    Note: The reading and assignment assigned beneath subunit 4.5 cover this subunit. See especially section 1, which introduces the concept of depth as a perceptual phenomenon.

  • 4.5.2 Monocular and Binocular Information  

    Note: The reading and assignment assigned beneath subunit 4.5 cover this subunit. Is it possible to perceive depth if you have vision in only one eye? Be sure you are able to address this question.

  • 4.5.3 Depth Clues  

    Note: The reading and assignment assigned beneath subunit 4.5 cover this subunit. Not all motion perception involves the movement of objects, but this is still one of the major features of how we perceive movement.

  • 4.5.4 Disparity: The Different Views of our Eyes  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.5 covers this subunit. How does the fact that each of our eyes has a slightly different view of the world provide information on depth? What do you see when you close first one eye and then the other?

  • 4.5.5 Uncrossed vs. Crossed Disparity  

    Note: The reading and assignment assigned beneath subunit 4.5 cover this subunit. The reading covers this topic about halfway down on page #8.

  • 4.5.6 Correspondence Problems: Diplopia and Binocular Rivalry  

    Note: The reading and assignment assigned beneath subunit 4.5 cover this subunit. Sometimes the images the brain receives from the two eyes do not "merge" properly. See page #10 of the assigned reading.

  • 4.5.7 Stereovision in the Brain  

    Note: The reading and assignment assigned beneath subunit 4.5 cover this subunit. This perceptual phenomenon is referred to as stereopsis in the assigned reading, and is covered starting on page #7.

  • 4.5.8 Disparity-Selective Neurons  
  • 4.5.9 Size and Shape Constancy  
  • 4.6 Object Recognition  
  • 4.6.1 Early Models: Template Matching and Feature Analysis  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.6 covers this subunit. See section 1 for a general discussion on these early models of object recognition.

  • 4.6.2 Geon Theory  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.6 covers this subunit. This is not about a race of aliens from Star Trek! Researchers view geons as combinations of the basic building blocks necessary for object recognition.

  • 4.6.3 Single-Model Axis, Component Axes and 3D Model Match  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.6 covers this subunit. Be sure to understand the assumptions and limits of these ideas about object recognition.

  • 4.6.4 View-Dependent Recognition  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.6 covers this subunit. This idea is that object recognition depends on the context. It is easier to recognize an object in a familiar context as opposed to a novel context. Think about your own experiences as you read about this idea.

  • 4.6.5 Gestalt Theories and Perceptual Organization  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.6 covers this subunit. The Gestalt idea is that you cannot separate the parts from the whole. When we look at a wooded mountainside, we see the forest first, and not the individual trees. According to the Gestalt (German for the whole) view, the relationship between the parts guides our perception of the whole.

  • 4.6.6 Is Facial Recognition Special? The Importance of Familiarity  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.6 covers this subunit. There is good evidence suggesting that humans are hard wired to recognize faces. Think about whether you have observed this in infants and small children.

  • 4.6.7 Agnosias: Impaired Recognition  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 4.6 covers this subunit. As always, perceptual failures can help us discover how normal” perception works. Think about what the various agnosias might tell us about object recognition.

  • 4.7 “Failures” of Visual Perception: Visual Illusions  
  • Unit 5: The Auditory System  

    We will now turn to the auditory system. We will begin by discussing the complexity of the sound stimulus, noting that sound comes in many forms (think of music, speech, and other complex sounds), all of which our brains are capable of understanding. You will learn the properties of sound, and discover how these properties relate to what we hear. We will also review the biology of the ear, identifying different pathways of the brain that enable us to hear.

    Unit 5 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 5 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 5.1 Properties of Sound  
    • Reading: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Read pages 10.2 to 10.5. NOTE: This document is in a continuous state of updating. Please ignore the internal notes, such as “[need illustration here]," for example. Most of the referenced figures are included at the end of the document; it is okay if not all the figures are available. ADDITIONAL NOTE: This reading applies to all subsections of section 5.1.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

  • 5.1.1 Sound as a Physical Stimulus  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 5.1.2 Amplitude  

    Note: The readings assigned beneathsubunits 5.1and 5.1.1 also cover this subunit. It is important to understand the difference between measuring perceptions and measuring actual physical attributes. What perceptual experience is dependent on the amplitude of a sound wave?

  • 5.1.3 Frequency  

    Note: The readings assigned beneath subunits 5.1 and 5.1.1 also cover this subunit. What perceptual experience is dependent on the frequency of a sound wave?

  • 5.1.4 Loudness and Amplitude  

    Note: The readings assigned beneath subunits 5.1 and 5.1.1 also cover this subunit. Be sure to consider if there is truly a one-to-one relationship between amplitude and the perceptual experience called loudness.

  • 5.1.5 Pitch and Frequency  

    Note: The readings assigned beneath subunits 5.1 and 5.1.1 also cover this subunit. Be sure to consider if there is truly a one-to-one relationship between frequency and the perceptual experience called pitch.

  • 5.1.6 Phase  

    Note: The readings assigned beneath subunits 5.1 and 5.1.1 also cover this subunit.

  • 5.1.7 Timbre  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 5.1.8 The Human Ear: The Outer Ear  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.1 also covers this subunit.

    • Interactive Lab: Pearson Education’s “LIVE!Psych: Virtual Tour of the Human Ear”

      Link: Pearson Education’s “LIVE!Psych: Virtual Tour of the Human Ear” (Shockwave)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page. The animation has three (3) parts. On the first page, listen to the directions and then roll your mouse over each labeled structure to see a description. When you are finished, click the right-pointing triangle at the lower right to move to screen 2 of 3, and watch the animation. When you are finished, click the right-pointing triangle at the lower right again to move to the final screen (3 of 3), and watch the animation. NOTE: This web media applies to all subsections of section 5.1.8-5.1.11.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above document and webpage.

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Fundamentals of Audition”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Fundamentals of Audition: Illustration 10.x The Ear” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page that gives you a schematic view of the working of the ear. Start the sound with the button at the bottom of the screen (the sound does not actually play through your speakers in this demonstration), and then watch the changes as you use the Frequency slider to change the frequency. To zero in on a specific part of the ear, choose from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen. NOTE: This assignment applies to all subsections of section 5.1.8-5.1.11.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

  • 5.1.9 Pinna  

    Note: The readings assigned beneath subunits 5.1 and 5.1.8 also cover this subunit. What would happen if we lost an ear? Be sure you understand the important role of the pinna in the perception of sound.

  • 5.1.10 The Auditory Canal  

    Note: The readings assigned beneath subunits 5.1 and 5.1.8 also cover this subunit. Why do you think there are so many raw nerve endings in our auditory canals? Do you think it is important for us to know when something is in our ear?

  • 5.1.11 The Tympanic Membrane (The Eardrum)  

    Note: The readings assigned beneath subunits 5.1 and 5.1.8 also cover this subunit. As you read this section, consider what might happen if the eardrum became thick and scarred by repeated ear infections over time.

  • 5.2 The Human Ear: The Middle Ear  
    • Interactive Lab: Pearson Education’s “LIVE!Psych: Virtual Tour of the Human Ear”

      Link: Pearson Education’s “LIVE!Psych: Virtual Tour of the Human Ear” (Shockwave)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page. The animation has three (3) parts. On the first page, listen to the directions and then roll your mouse over each labeled structure to see a description. When you are finished, click the right-pointing triangle at the lower right to move to screen 2 of 3, and watch the animation. When you are finished, click the right-pointing triangle at the lower right again to move to the final screen (3 of 3), and watch the animation. NOTE: This web media applies to all subsections of section 5.2.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above document and webpage.

    • Assignment: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Fundamentals of Audition”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception: Fundamentals of Audition” (JAVA)
       
      Instructions: If you have installed the JAVA plug-in (see page #2 of this course), clicking the embedded link will open a page that gives you a schematic view of the working of the ear. Start the sound with the button at the bottom of the screen (the sound does not actually play through your speakers in this demonstration), and then watch the changes as you use the Frequency slider to change the frequency. To zero in on a specific part of the ear, choose from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen. NOTE: This assignment applies to all subsections of section 5.2.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

  • 5.2.1 The Ossicles: Malleus, Incus and Stapes  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.2 covers this subunit. These smallest bones in the body are truly a miracle of evolution. Be sure you understand how the geometry of their arrangement helps focus the movement of the eardrum onto the oval window.

  • 5.2.2 Ossicles and Vibrations  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.2 covers this subunit. Consider the effect of the incorrect operation of the ossicles. Many people have scar tissue in their middle ears from repeated infections. How might this affect the vibration of these structures?

  • 5.2.3 How the Ossicles Amplify Sound  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.2 also covers this subunit.

  • 5.3 The Human Ear: The Inner Ear  
  • 5.3.1 The Cochlea: Scala Tympany, Scala Vestibuli and Cochlear Partition  
  • 5.3.2 The Organ of Corti  
  • 5.3.3 Hair Cells: Inner vs. Outer  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.2 also covers this subunit.

  • 5.3.4 Auditory Transduction  
    • Web Media: Sumanas, Inc.’s “Sound Transduction”

      Link: Sumanas, Inc.’s “Sound Transduction” (Adobe Flash)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page. Choose the “Narrated” or “Step-Through” link to view the animation. Although the first parts of the animation are redundant to other subunits, be sure to watch this flash video in its entirety.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above document and webpage.

  • 5.3.5 Higher Order Auditory Structures  
  • 5.3.6 Cortical Auditory Pathways  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.5 covers this subunit. Be sure you have a good understanding of the basic pathway for carrying auditory signals from the inner ear to the cortex of the brain.

  • 5.4 Pitch Perception  
  • 5.4.1 Traveling Wave  
  • 5.4.2 The Base vs. the Apex of the Basilar Membrane  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.4 also covers this subunit. Why do you think sound has different effects on different parts of the basilar membrane? Focus on this question as you view and listen to the demonstration.

  • 5.4.3 Tonotopic Map  
  • 5.4.4 Frequency Tuning  
  • 5.4.5 Timing Code for Pitch: The Cochlear Microphonic  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.4.4 covers this subunit. Be sure to have a good understanding about why the frequency of action potentials is not sufficient to signal the pitch of a sound wave.

  • 5.4.6 Phase Locking  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.4.4 covers this subunit. How does phase locking solve the problem if signaling the pitch of a sound?

  • 5.4.7 The Periodicity of Pitch  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.4.4 covers this subunit. Make sure you are very clear about the effect of the missing fundamental.

  • 5.4.8 Masking Critical Bands and the Missing Fundamental  
  • 5.5 Loudness  
  • 5.5.1 Firing Rate Hypothesis  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.5 covers this subunit. In some ways, the idea of neural firing rate as a perceptual signal is an issue for the perception of both pitch and loudness. Make sure that you understand how it relates to both pitch and loudness perception.

  • 5.5.2 Number of Neuron Hypothesis  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.5 covers this subunit. If firing rate doesnt do the job of signaling loudness, should we perhaps look to the raw number of neurons that are stimulated?

  • 5.5.3 Critical Bands and Band-Limited Noise  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.5 covers this subunit. As you read this section, think about why we refer to band-limited auditory stimuli as noise.

  • 5.5.4 The Zwicker Loudness Matching Experiments  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.5 covers this subunit. According to Zwicker, what is the relationship between loudness and the total energy stimulating the basilar membrane?

  • 5.5.5 Neural Code for Pitch and Loudness  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.5 covers this subunit. This reading summarizes how we think pitch and loudness perception actually work. It is critically important to understand the mechanisms of each.

  • 5.5.6 Adaptation and Damage  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.5 covers this subunit. As you read this section, are you aware of the sound of the air conditioning or heating fan in the room? Does the computer you are using make any kind of hum? What does it mean if ambient sounds that we are unaware of go unnoticed until we pay attention to them?

  • 5.6 Auditory Space Perception  
    • Reading: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Read from “Auditory Space Perception” on page 11.13 to “Speech” on page 11.19. NOTE: This document is in a continuous state of updating. Ignore the internal notes, such as “[need illustration here],” for example. Most of the referenced figures are included at the end of the document; it is okay if not all the figures are available. ADDITIONAL NOTE: This reading applies to all subsections of section 5.6.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

  • 5.6.1 Monaural Cues  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.6 covers this subunit. One of the reasons we have more than one ear is to enrich our ability to perceive sound in space. It helps us localize sounds, for example. Is it possible to receive cues about things like sound localization with only one ear?

  • 5.6.2 Binaural Cues  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.6 also covers this subunit.

  • 5.6.3 Interaural Phase Difference  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.6 also covers this subunit.

  • 5.6.4 The Complexities of Two Ears: Precedence Effect  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 5.6 also covers this subunit.

  • 5.7 Complex Auditory Phenomena  
  • 5.7.1 The Perception of Tone  
    • Reading: Internet Psychology Lab’s “Tone Perception”

      Link: Internet Psychology Lab’s “Tone Perception” (JAVA and HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the main page. Read each subsequent page, using the “Next” text link to move through the eight (8) pages. You must have previously installed the JAVA plug-in described on page #2 of this document.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

  • 5.7.2 Auditory Scene Analysis  
  • 5.7.3 Music  
  • Unit 6: Smell, Taste, and Touch  

    In this unit, we will discuss the three remaining senses: smell, taste, and touch. Though we will only spend one unit on these three senses, each is complex and important; however, we use them less frequently than sight and sound. This unit will discuss the ways that taste, smell, and touch are anatomically related and explain why they are useful to us as humans. Pay special attention to the fact that both taste and smell are chemical senses, in that they give us information about the chemical composition of our surroundings.

    Unit 6 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 6 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 6.1 Taste  
  • 6.1.1 The Importance of Taste: The Testing of Food  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 6.1.2 The Four Types of Papillae: Filiform, Fungiform, Foliate, and Circumvallate Papillae  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.1 covers this subunit. As you read this section, consider why different areas of the tongue have different types of papillae.

  • 6.1.3 Taste Buds, Taste Cells and Taste Pores  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 6.1.4 Taste Transduction  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.1 covers this subunit. As previously discussed, transduction in sensory systems is the morphing of an external stimulus into neural energy, or action potentials. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how chemicals in the mouth are transduced into electrochemical energy in neurons.

  • 6.1.5 The Chorda Tympani Nerve  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.1 covers this subunit. As you read this section, consider why different neural pathways serve different parts of the tongue.

  • 6.1.6 The Glosso-Pharyngeal Nerve  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.1 also covers this subunit.

  • 6.1.7 The Vagus Nerve  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.1 covers this subunit. As you read this section, consider why there are taste buds in areas other than the mouth.

  • 6.1.8 Specificity vs. Distributed Encoding  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.1 covers this subunit. How is the issue of specificity vs. distributed coding similar to the coding of auditory information?

  • 6.1.9 The Sensation of Taste: The Importance of Smell and Texture (Touch) on Taste  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.1 covers this subunit. Why do people sometimes hold their nose when having to eat or swallow something that tastes bad to them?

  • 6.2 Smell  
  • 6.2.1 The Importance of Smell: Distinguishing Substances Before Contact  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.2 also covers this subunit.

  • 6.2.2 Animal Use of Smell vs. Human Use of Smell  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.2 covers this subunit. What are pheromones? Why are they less important for humans than they are for many other animals?

  • 6.2.3 Olfactory Mucosa  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.2 covers this subunit. As you read this section, consider how the olfactory mucosa is similar to the basilar membrane in the cochlea.

  • 6.2.4 Olfactory Receptor Neurons  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.2 also covers this subunit.

  • 6.2.5 Cilia and Olfactory Receptor Proteins  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.2 covers this subunit. What visual receptor characteristic is similar in function to olfactory receptor proteins?

  • 6.2.6 Olfactory Transduction  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.2 covers this subunit. Be certain that you have a good understanding about how chemical stimulation from odors is transformed into neural energy.

  • 6.2.7 Glomeruli  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.2 covers this subunit. Where do the glomeruli sit in the neural pathway? From where do they receive their signals, and to where are their signals sent?

  • 6.2.8 What is an Odotope?  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.2 covers this subunit. Be sure you understand the definition and significance of odotopes.

  • 6.2.9 Pheromones and Odorless Molecules: Fear, Moods, and Attraction  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.2 covers this subunit. What are some of the possible roles of pheromones in human behavior and interaction?

  • 6.3 Touch  
    • Reading: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Read chapter 12. NOTE: This document is in a continuous state of updating. Ignore the internal notes, such as “[need illustration here],” for example. Most of the referenced figures are included at the end of the document; it is okay if not all the figures are available. ADDITIONAL NOTE: This reading applies to subsections 6.3.1-6.3.4.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

  • 6.3.1 Stimulus Properties: Pressure, Temperature, and Discrimination  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.3 also covers this subunit.

  • 6.3.2 Adaptation  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.3 covers this subunit. Before reading this sentence, were you aware of the pressure of your buttocks on your chair? Were you aware of the feel of your clothes on your skin, especially things like underwear and socks? As you read this section, consider why you generally are not aware of such things.

  • 6.3.3 Cortical Pathways  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.3 also covers this subunit.

  • 6.3.4 Sensitivity of Receptors and Size in Cortex  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.3 covers this subunit. As you read this section, consider why it makes sense that more sensitive areas of the skin are served by larger portions of the cortex.

  • 6.3.5 The Homunculi  
  • 6.3.6 Pain: Localized vs. Referred Pain  

    Note: The reading assigned beneath subunit 6.3 also covers this subunit.

  • Unit 7: Perceptual Development  

    In this final unit, we address one of the most interesting of all topics in sensation and perception; that is, how do these processes develop and change over our lifetime? It should be apparent that perception both requires sensory experience and that it changes as past perceptions influence how we respond to novel stimulation. The ultimate point is that sensation and perception are not static mechanisms; they are always in a state of dynamic flux, sometimes strengthening our awareness of the world around us and sometimes causing interference. Although these systems change over time, we are never more eager for stimulation, nor more sensitive to potential harm, than in the first years of life. Much of the research on perceptual development focuses on this critical period.

    Unit 7 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 7 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 7.1 Some Context: Nature versus Nurture  
    • Reading: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception”

      Link: Hanover College: Professor John Krantz’s “Experiencing Sensation and Perception” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Read the introductory sections of chapter 15. NOTE: This document is in a continuous state of updating. Ignore the internal notes, such as “[need illustration here],” for example. Most of the referenced figures are included at the end of the document; it is okay if not all the figures are available.
       
      Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of John Krantz, and can be viewed in its original form here. Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

    • Reading: Colby College: M. E. Arterberry’s “Perceptual Development”

      Link: Colby College: M. E. Arterberry’s “Perceptual Development” (PDF)

      Instructions: Near the top right of the page, find the link “Perceptual Development” under the header “Browse Sample Content.” Read the introductory section.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage and document.

  • 7.2 Visual Development  
  • 7.3 Auditory Development  
  • 7.4 Development of Touch  
  • 7.5 Other Senses  
  • 7.6 The Important Relationship Between Perceptual and Cognitive Development  
  • 7.7 Later Life  
  • Final Exam  

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