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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Ione Fine
PSYCH 333
Seattle Campus

Sensory and Perceptual Processes

An overview of each of the major senses with emphasis on the structure and function of sensory systems and the relation of the underlying biology to perceptual processes and behavior. Prerequisite: minimum 2.0 grade in PSYCH 202; 2.0 in PSYCH 209.

Class description

Most of us think of sensation and perception as easy. We see, feel, hear, touch and smell effortlessly, whereas other mental functions like language and memory seem much more difficult and prone to disorders. But the fact that sensory processing seems easy is extraordinary. Did you know that about half of your brain is devoted to sensory perception? Perhaps perception seems so easy because we have so much 'neural hardware' devoted to it.

Student learning goals

Students will broaden, deepen and reinforce the basic working knowledge about the structure and function of the nervous system acquired in Psych 202.

Students will develop a basic working knowledge of classical psychophysics.

Students will develop a basic working knowledge about the structure and function of the gustatory system, olfactory system, somatosensory system, visual system, and auditory system.

4. Students will develop an understanding of the relation between biological systems, neural processing mechanisms, and perception. This will include understanding the how biological factors influence aspects of human perception that are shared across, or may differ across, cultural, ethnic, gender, geographic, or other boundaries.

Students will develop an appreciation of properties common to all sensory systems, and properties shared by sensory systems and other brain systems.

Students will develop an understanding of the study of sensory systems and processes within the historical context of the field, and potential future directions of the field. This includes understanding the tentative nature of knowledge, tolerating ambiguity, and using skeptical inquiry to discover discrepancies and/or gaps in current knowledge.

General method of instruction

The course will be based on Sensation and Perception (7th edition) by E. Bruce Goldstein. Lecture material will generally follow the textbook, but there will be material in the book that's not in the lectures, and vice versa.

Recommended preparation

Psych 202 or equivalent.

Class assignments and grading

There will be four components to your grade. Three are exam components, consisting of two mid-term exams and a cumulative final. Exams will cover material from the book, lectures, and quiz sections. In addition, there will be a fourth non-examination component that will consist of a short research paper (You will be asked to write a short "magazine article" for laypeople about a piece of current research on sensation or perception.) and a research presentation.

Examination components will make up 66% of your grade. You will be allowed to "drop" the score on your worst exam. Non-exam components will make up the remaining third of your grade.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Ione Fine
Date: 02/03/2009