Psychology 129 - Sensory processes

TR 4:40-6, Art 217

Instructor: Bruno A. Olshausen,
Office hours: TR 6-7, Young Hall, room 268J, x2-4207; or by appointment: x7-8749.

T.A.: Tonya Jacobs,
Office hours: MW 3-4:30, SSH 1324, x49439

Text: Sekuler & Blake, Perception, McGraw-Hill, fourth edition.

Prerequisite: Psychology 101, Introduction to Psychobiology, or equivalent.

Grading: Based on bi-weekly assignments (40%), two midterms (15% each), and
final (30%).


Tues. 1/8 Introduction. Goals of the course. Introduction to sensation and perception.
Neural mechanisms: action potentials and synapses; relating neural mechanisms to
perception and behavior. Chapter 1

Thurs. 1/10 Vision. The nature of light; electromagnetic waves; spectra; refraction; image
formation; the eye; receptors and neural processing; dynamic range and lightness
constancy. Chapter 2

Tues. 1/15 Visual information processing. Retinal ganglion cells; receptive fields;
parvo- and magno-cellular streams; sensitivity and resolution; resolution as a
function of eccentricity; vision in insects and spiders. Chapters 2/3

Thurs. 1/17 Visual cortex. Visual pathways; area V1; topographic organization; columnar
organization; orientation selectivity; ocular dominance; image representation.
Chapter 4

Tues. 1/22 Cortical processing streams. ‘What’ and ‘where’ streams; modularity and
specificity of cortical function; hierarchical organization of visual cortex; cortical
mechanisms as revealed through adaptation. Chapter 4

Thurs. 1/24 Form perception. Spatial-frequency, multi-scale image analysis; spatial constrast
sensitivity function. Chapter 5

Tues. 1/29 Color. Spectra; color composition; trichromacy. Chapter 7

Thurs. 1/31 Color perception. Color opponency; disorders of color perception; color
constancy. Chapter 7

Tues. 2/5 -- Mid-term #1 (in class, 1 hour) --

Thurs. 2/7 Space perception. Perception of depth; monocular depth cues: shape and size
constancy, occlusion, perspective, texture gradients, motion parallax; binocular
vision and stereopsis. Chapter 8

Tues. 2/12 Motion. Motion perception; neural mechanisms for computing motion; motion
after-effects (the ‘waterfall illusion’); optic flow; structure from motion.
Chapter 9

Thurs. 2/14 Object recognition. The problem of segmentation; Gestalt
grouping laws; the binding problem; visual attention; top-down processing.
Chapter 6

Tues. 2/19 Audition. The nature of sound; focusing and amplification of sound via the outer
and middle ear; the cochlea; function of the basilar membrane; hair cells and
sensory transduction; tonotopic organization. Chapter 10

Thurs. 2/21 Auditory information processing. Frequency analysis; cortical
representation and plasticity; principles of auditory grouping and sound localization.
Chapter 10/11.

Tues. 2/26 Music perception. Pitch perception; timbre; music; Chapter 11

Thurs. 2/28 Speech perception. Phonemes; speech segmentation; speech recognition.
Chapter 11

Tues. 3/5 -- Mid-term #2 (in class, 1 hour) --

Thurs. 3/7 Touch. Mechanoreceptors; RA and SA fibers; somatosensory cortical
representation; sensitivity and acuity; ‘phantom limbs.’ Pain receptors and neural
pathways; gate control theory. Chapter 12

Tues. 3/12 Smell and Taste. Olfactory receptors and neural processing; classification of
odors. Taste receptors and taste perception. Chapter 13

Thurs. 3/14 ?

Sat. 3/23 -- Scheduled Final exam (10:30-12:30) --
**Note: may be moved to last day of class, 3/14**