Steven L. Buck
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.
We'll explore both the perceptual aspects and neural substrate of the five major senses - vision, hearing, cutaneous, taste, and smell - with the strongest emphasis on vision and hearing.
Student learning goals
1. Students will understand that perceptions are inferences about the outside world created by the brain and are not just veridical representations. Students will also understand that the brain makes these best guesses based on a selective sampling by sensory receptors of the state of the physical world. This inferential process is guided both by experience and by genetics and evolution.
2. Students will understand the basic structure and function of the gustatory system, olfactory system, somatosensory system, visual system, and auditory system.
3. Students will understand how receptors in each of these sensory systems transduce specific types of energy from the outside world into neural signals. Students will also understand how these signals are coded and transformed through the various stages of the sensory neural pathways.
4. Students will develop an appreciation of properties common to all sensory systems, and properties shared by sensory systems and other brain systems.
5. 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, or may differ, across cultural, ethnic, gender, geographic, or other boundaries.
General method of instruction
Lecture/discussion Discussion sections
Prerequisite: 2.0 in PSYCH 202; 2.0 in PSYCH 209.
Class assignments and grading
Four exams (three midterms, one final) Three 1-page papers
Best three of four exams (150 point max) Three papers (45 points max) Bonus assignment TBA (5 points)