Course Syllabus for "PSYCH306: Sensation and Perception".

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.

Learning Outcomes

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

Course Requirements

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.

Course Information

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:

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.

Course Overview

  • 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.

  • 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
    This unit should take you 10.5 hours to complete.

    ☐    Subunit 2.1: 3.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 2.2: 3.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 2.3: 3.5 hours
    Unit2 Learning Outcomes
    Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
    • explain the basic principles of classical psychophysics; and

    • describe the fundamental methods of classical psychophysics.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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
    This unit should take you 25.5 hours to complete.

    ☐    Subunit 3.1: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 3.2: 2.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 3.3: 3.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 3.4: 2 hours

    ☐    Subunit 3.5: 2 hours


    ☐    Subunit 3.6: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 3.7: 3.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 3.8: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 3.9: 3 hours

    Unit3 Learning Outcomes

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

    • explain the basic properties of the visual stimulus (light);
    • explain the important visual sensory structures and their function(s);
    • identify and describe the differences between visual sensation under low and normal light intensity levels; and
    • identify the basic visual sensory pathways in the central nervous system.
  • 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  
  • 3.3 Anatomy of a Human Eye  
  • 3.3.1 Basic Structures and Functions  
  • 3.3.2 What is the Blind Spot?  
  • 3.4 Diseases of the Eye  
  • 3.4.1 Glaucoma  
  • 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  
  • 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
    This unit should take you 20.5 hours to complete.

    ☐    Subunit 4.1: 3.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 4.2: 3.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 4.3: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 4.4: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 4.5: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 4.6: 2.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 4.7: 2 hours

    Unit4 Learning Outcomes

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

    • explain the fundamental aspects of the perception of color;
    • explain the fundamental aspects of the perception of movement;
    • explain the fundamental aspects of the perception of depth;
    • explain the relationship between visual perception and cognition; and
    • explain how visual illusions reveal important details about visual perception.
  • 4.1 Color  
  • 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  
  • 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
    This unit should take you 17 hours to complete.

    ☐    Subunit 5.1: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 5.2: 2 hours

    ☐    Subunit 5.3: 2 hours

    ☐    Subunit 5.4: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 5.5: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 5.6: 2 hours

    ☐    Subunit 5.7: 2 hours
    Unit5 Learning Outcomes

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

    • explain the basic properties of the auditory stimulus (sound);
    • explain the important auditory sensory structures and their function(s);
    • explain the fundamental aspects of the perception of loudness;
    • explain the fundamental aspects of the perception of pitch;
    • explain the fundamental aspects of the perception of the location of sound sources; and
    • describe the basic auditory sensory pathways in the central nervous system.
  • 5.1 Properties of Sound  
  • 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.

  • 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  
  • 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  
  • 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  
  • 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  
  • 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
    This unit should take you 10.5 hours to complete.

    ☐    Subunit 6.1: 3.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 6.2: 3.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 6.3: 3.5 hours
    Unit6 Learning Outcomes

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

    • explain the basic properties of olfactory, gustatory, and somatosensory stimuli;
    • explain the important sensory structures and their function(s) for each of these three sensory systems;
    • explain the fundamental aspects of the perception of taste;
    • explain the fundamental aspects of the perception of smell;
    • explain the fundamental aspects of the perception of touch; and
    • describe the basic auditory sensory pathways in the central nervous system.
  • 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  
  • 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
    This unit should take you 18.5 hours to complete.

    ☐    Subunit 7.1: 2 hours

    ☐    Subunit 7.2: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 7.3: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 7.4: 2 hours

    ☐    Subunit 7.5: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 7.6: 3 hours

    ☐    Subunit 7.7: 2.5 hours
    Unit7 Learning Outcomes

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

    • explain the major issues in the “nature versus nurture” controversy as it relates to perceptual development;
    • describe the major developmental issues associated with each of the five (5) primary sensory systems; and
    • explain the relationships between perceptual and cognitive development.
  • 7.1 Some Context: Nature versus Nurture  
  • 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  
  • Unit 8: Final Exam