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PSYCH306: Sensation and Perception

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
This unit should take you 13.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 1.4: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 1.5: 3 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • describe the sensory systems, and distinguish between sensation and perception;
  • explain the primary functions of the five (5) primary sensory/perceptual systems;
  • describe the important evolutionary aspects of sensory/perceptual systems; and
  • describe the historical progression of thinking and research in sensation and perception.

1.1 What Do Sensing and Perceiving Do for Us?   1.1.1 The Ecological View   - Lecture: YouTube: UC Berkeley: Instructor John Kihlstrom’s “Sensation and Perception I” Lecture Link: YouTube: UC Berkeley: Instructor John Kihlstrom’s “Sensation and Perception I Lecture (YouTube)

 Instructions: On this web page, scroll down through the Lecture
Archive until you see the lecture titled “Sensation and Perception
I”. Click the “eye” icon to start the video. Drag the time slider to
the 3:37 mark to skip to the start of the actual lecture.   

 Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: The above video is reposted from the University of
California – Berkeley’s
[Webcast.Berkeley](http://webcast.berkeley.edu/). This video is
released under a [Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No
Derivative Works 3.0 Unported
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

1.1.2 Perception as Problem Solving   - Lecture: YouTube: UC Berkeley: Instructor John Kihlstrom’s “Sensation and Perception II” Lecture Link: YouTube: UC Berkeley: Instructor John Kihlstrom’s “Sensation and Perception II Lecture (YouTube)
           
Instructions: On this web page, scroll down through the Lecture Archive until you see the lecture titled “Sensation and Perception II”. Click the “eye” icon to start the video.

 Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: The above video is reposted from the University of
California – Berkeley’s
[Webcast.Berkeley](http://webcast.berkeley.edu/). This video is
released under a [Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No
Derivative Works 3.0 Unported
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

1.2 Reality Testing   1.2.1 Do Our Senses Convey Reality?   - Reading: David Rudd Cycleback’s “Eye/Brain Physiology and Human Perception of External Reality” Link: David Rudd Cycleback’s “Eye/Brain Physiology and Human Perception of External Reality” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page and read the main text. Focus on the concept that what we perceive may not always be the same as what is “there.”
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

1.3 An Overview of the Sensory Systems   1.3.1 The Eye and Vision   - Reading: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind: “Nervous system - Sight” Link: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind: “Nervous System - Sight” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page and read the main text. In addition, click the “Sight Animation” link and page through the animation using the yellow, right-pointing triangle. This will provide you with a basic overview of how the human visual system works.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

1.3.2 The Ear and Hearing (Audition)   - Reading: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind: “Nervous system – Hearing” Link: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind: “Nervous system – Hearing” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click the link above, read the entire page, and watch the “Hearing Animation.” This will introduce you to the auditory system.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

1.3.3 The Tongue and Taste (Gustation)   - Reading: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind: “Nervous system – Taste” Link: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind: ** “Nervous system – Taste” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entire linked page and watch the “Taste Animation.” This will introduce you to the gustatory system.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

1.3.4 The Nose and Smell (Olfaction)   - Reading: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind: “Nervous System – Smell” Link: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind: “Nervous System -- Smell” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entire linked page and watch the “Smell Animation.” This will introduce you to the olfactory system.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

1.3.5 The Skin and Touch (Somatosensation)   - Reading: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind: “Nervous System – Touch” Link: BBC’s Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind“Nervous System – Touch” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entire linked page. This will introduce you to the somatosensory system.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

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)   - Reading: New World Encyclopedia’s “Equilibrioception” Link: New World Encyclopedia’s “Equilibrioception” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page and read sections #1 and #2 of this topic. This will explain the specifics of our sense of balance.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

1.4 Evolutionary Processes in Sensation and Perception   1.4.1 The Theory of Natural Selection   - Web Media: PBS’s Evolution Library: “Evolving Ideas: How Does Evolution Really Work?” Link: PBS’s Evolution Library: “Evolving Ideas: How Does Evolution Really Work?” (Quicktime or Realplayer)
 
Also available at:
YouTube
 
Instructions: On this web page, choose either QuickTime or Real Player (QuickTime seems to work best) under the text “View in.” This will provide you with an excellent description of the processes of natural selection.

 Watching this video should take approximately 10 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
included on the above webpage.

1.4.2 How Natural Selection Shaped our Senses   - Web Media: The Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures for Children: Richard Dawkins, excerpt from “Growing Up in the Universe,” Episode #3, “Climbing Mount Improbable” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

[Submit Materials](/contribute/)

1.4.3 The Evolution of Perception   - Web Media: TED Talks: Beau Lotto’s “Optical Illusions Show How We See” Link: TED Talks: Beau Lotto’s “Optical Illusions Show How We See” (Adobe Flash)
 
Also available in:

[Quicktime](http://video.ted.com/talks/podcast/BeauLotto_2009G_480.mp4)  
    
 Instructions: Click the above link and the video will begin. Be
sure you have a good idea about how illusions, which are really
failures of our visual system, provide information on how the system
works.  

 Watching this video should take approximately 20 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
included on the above webpage.

1.4.4 The Brain, Perception and the Development of Separate Structures   - Web Media: NPR’s series, The Human Edge: “From Primitive Parts: A Highly Evolved Human Brain” Link: NPR’s series, The Human Edge: “From Primitive Parts: A Highly Evolved Human Brain” (HTML)
 
Also available in:
Adobe Flash Audio

[Mp3](http://public.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/me/2010/08/20100809_me_13.mp3?dl=1)  
    
 Instructions: Read the article listed above in the link. It is a
text transcript of an interview also available as audio on the
website. Additionally, you may click the “Listen to the Story” link
to listen to the audio. Pay close attention to the discussion of how
our brains have evolved into incredibly complex structures.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
included on the above webpage.

1.5 Historical Perspectives   1.5.1 The Beginnings of Sensation and Perception Research   - Reading: North Dakota State University: Professor Mark McCourt’s “Historical and Contemporary Sensory Science” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

[Submit Materials](/contribute/)
  • Reading: Thoemmes Press’ Classics in Psychology: Robert Wozniak’s “Gustav Theodor Fechner: Elemente der Psychophysik (1860)” Link: Thoemmes Press’ Classics in Psychology: Robert Wozniak’s “Gustav Theodor Fechner: Elemente der Psychophysik (1860)” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page and read the main text. Modern scientists consider Gustav Fechner one of the fathers of neuroscience. Be sure you understand why his contributions were so important.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.

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   - Reading: Stanford University’s Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “The Problem of Perception” Link: Stanford University’s Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “The Problem of Perception” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click the link above to navigate to the web page and read the main text. Make sure you have a good sense of the relationship between perceptual phenomena and philosophy.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use included on the above webpage.