Office Hours: 

MTF 11:00 am
W 2:00 pm
R 9:00 am

November 6, 2002
The extra credit form is on the course home page.

Also, the schedule has been updated for class and lab to reflect what I have announced and where we are.

September 20, 2002
Here is the data and the graph from the spatial summation experiment that we collected in class.  I will try to keep this graph current with the data that I have.

September 19, 2002
For tomorrow's class, Friday September 20, please bring to class your data from the Spatial Summation Experiment in Chapter 4.

September 17, 2002
Which class member is this?  Whoever he is, he has torn up opponents for three pass reception TDs in two games.
Click on the image to see a larger version.

September 16, 2002
The draft glossary and references have been posted on the class homepage.

September 10, 2002
The syllabus has been updated to reflect the current course schedule.
  The current lab sequence on basic psychophysics has been extended and the lab for next week has been eliminated.  The assignments have been changed.  Also, I have removed one day of coverage from Krantz, Chapter 3.  All other dates stay the same.

Here and listed on the schedule for the labs is a PowerPoint outline showing how to do the ROC graph.  As PowerPoint; As web pages.

September 2, 2002
Welcome back from Christmas Break.  I hope you are well rested.   I am really looking forward to this class.  I hope you have as much fun as I know I will.

Look here for future announcements about the course


General Description:

Broadly speaking, the study of sensation and perception is the study of how an organism's brain knows what is going on around it. To help you appreciate the questions that scientists studying sensation and perception struggle with, think of the captain of a sea ship. What does that person need to know? The captain must be able to detect obstacles, storms, other ships, and weather conditions such as extreme heat that may effect the operation and safety of the ship. To perform these functions, the captain has radar, sonar and other systems to gain information about the outside environment. In addition, the captain must know about the operating condition of the ship, such as fuel level and temperature of the engine. Sensors have been placed in the ship to give the captain the needed information. In some sense you can consider your brain, or mind, as the captain of a ship. In the same manner as the captain, your brain does not have direct access to the information necessary to behave in an intelligent and effective manner. Thus, our sensory systems such as vision and audition are like the radar which gives your brain necessary information about the outside world. You also have sensory systems that obtain information about the state of your body such as your position relative to the ground.

Course Specific Objectives:

The objective of this course is to develop your understanding of how our sensory systems operate to gain this necessary information. We will emphasize those senses that gain information about the outside world. One of the difficulties with teaching Sensation and Perception is that we all intuitively "know" what we see, hear, etc. In addition, we have an implicit trust that what our senses tell us about is physical reality. This belief is held despite most people having extensive experience with illusions which illustrate the almost tentative nature of our information about the outside world. You will have to leave many of these intuitions behind, because there are many surprises in how our sensory systems actually operate.

Role of Course in the Major:

In the new major, this course is one of the options for a basic or 200 level experimental psychology course.  Experimental psychology traditionally has referred to those areas of psychology that have emphasized the laboratory and experimental methods for its research.  Thus, areas such as sensation and perception, cognition, and learning have fallen under this general rubric.  Many fundamental findings that drive most of our speculation about the nature of being a human being are based on findings in these areas.

As a result this placement of sensation and perception in the major, the course is designed to give you a fundamental introduction to experimental methods and ideas using this topic.  The other course at this level of the major is PSY222 neuropsychology.  Together these courses are often grouped under the rubric of biological psychology and, thus, present how biological knowledge and approaches have been used to facilitate understanding in psychology.  So while there are many non biological approaches to sensation and perception and they will be covered, there is a need to make sure you understand the basics of the nervous system and how this basic understanding yields important insights for psychology.

This course also needs to provide a foundation of basic experimental methods as used in the laboratory areas of psychology.  In the advanced course you will be expected to design your own experimental project in the area of that course and to execute that project.  So, the laboratory section is designed to help you get experience with the various components of how experiments are conducted in these areas of psychology so that you will be prepared to conduct your project in the advanced course. 

Objectives Connected to the Liberal Arts:

This course connects to the liberal arts in several ways.  Science is a traditional and fundamental area of study in the liberal arts.  Science is different from many of the other areas of knowledge by its apparent ability to build a body of knowledge that is to some degree cumulative and gains a very wide degree of acceptance by practitioners of that field.  It is these characteristics that has led to the claim that scientific knowledge is more objective that other disciplines.  But, science is not a fixed set of facts to be learned, but a constantly changing and evolving body of knowledge.  To understand science, in fact to understand any discipline taught here at Hanover, requires one to understand how the field learns and expands its horizon and critiques its past knowledge.  Thus, this class will emphasize the data and reasoning that leads researchers in sensation and perception to certain conclusions and in the class we will be asked to critique these data and the consequent reasoning.  In addition, according to our newly adopted academic vision plan, one feature of the liberal arts is that it prepares people "to lead deliberate, examined lives."  However, one facet of our lives that often goes little examined is how it is possible that we can sense and perceive the world around us and how these mechanisms that make sensation and perception affect our lives.  By making you aware of these mechanisms a more aware life is possible.


Material covered in any course that you take here at Hanover College represents more than a collection of facts or ideas loosely held together by the course title. There is an intricate structure to what is included and what is not included which makes that course content distinct from other courses. I find, however, that in the heat of a term students and faculty get caught up in the particulars of the day's lecture or fulfilling the next assignment and sometimes lose sight of how the specifics of the day fit into the overall structure of the course. It is a "lose sight of the forest for the trees" type of phenomenon. In order to help you understand and keep track of the overall structure of this course, I have prepared the following course outline. The reading assignments are listed within the outline so that you can see how the daily lectures relate to the overall structure of the course.

  1. Background
    1. Philosophical Basis of Sensation and Perception
    2. Week 1 M
      Sep 3
      Krantz, Chapter 1
    3. Biological Basis of Sensation and Perception
    4. Week 1 WF
      Week 2
      Sep 9
      Review Structure of Neuron
      Review Action Potential


  2. Vision
    1. The Physics and Anatomy of Vision
    2. Week 2
       Week 3 M
      Sep 16
      Krantz, Chapter 3
      Scans of the Eye
      Receptive Fields Tutorial: 
    3. Fundamental Limits of Visual Functioning
    4. Week 3
      Krantz, Chapter 4
      Effects of Receptor (Sampling) Density

      Week 4 M Examination #1
      Sep 23

    5. Form (Two-dimensional Structure)
    6. Week 4
      Sep 23
      Krantz, Chapter 5
      Fourier Analysis Tutorial
      Receptive Field as Edge Detector
    7. Chromatic Aspects of Vision
    8. Week 5 
      Sep 30
      Krantz, Chapter 6
      Demonstrations: Color Gamut and the CIE Diagram
    9. E. Motion Perception
    10. Week 6
      Oct 7
      Goldstein, Chapter 8
      Demonstrations: Induced Motion
    11. The Third Dimension (Depth)
    12. Week 6 F
      Week 7 W
      Oct 16
      Goldstein, pp. 225-247
      Vision and Art Tutorial

      Powerpoint Slides on Motion Parallax 
      Motion Parallax Example 

      Powerpoint Slides on Vergence 
      Powerpoint Slides on Binocular Disparity 

      Week 7 F Examination #2
      Oct 18

    13. Constancy and Illusions
    14. Week 8
      Oct 21
      Goldstein, 248-266
      Parts of Vision and Art Tutorial 
      Demonstration: Testing Emmert's Law, Size Constancy in a Photograph, Color Constancy, Mueller-Lyer Illusion


  3. Audition
    1. Physics and Anatomy of Audition
    2. Week 9 
      Week 10
      Nov 4
      Goldstein, Chapter 10
      Fourier Analysis Tutorial
    3. Perceptual Functions of Audition
    4. Week 10
      Week 11
      Nov 13 
      Week 12
      Nov 18
      Goldstein, Chapter 11, 12
      PowerPoint Slides:
      Missing Fundamental 
      Auditory Space

      Week 11 M Examination #3
      Nov 11

      Let us have a class discussion on which of the remaining units to cover.

  4. Other Senses
    1. Skin Senses
    2. Week 10  WF
      Week 11 MW
      Nov 11
      Goldstein, Chapter 13
    3. Chemical Senses (Gustation and Olfaction)
    4. Week 11 F 
      Week 12 M
      Nov 18
      Goldstein, Chapter 14


  5. Interaction of Senses (Orientation as an Example)
  6. Week 13 
    Nov 25
  7. Perceptual Development
    1. Development of Sensory Processes
    2. Week 14 MW
      Dec 2
      Goldstein Chapter 15
    3. Development of Sensory Integration
    4. Week 14 F Goldstein Chapter 15


Dec 9-13 Final Examination (During Final Examination Period)


Laboratory Schedule:

In all types of inquiry, the knowledge gained is fundamentally dependent upon the methods used to gain that knowledge. Therefore, the laboratory portion of this course is set up to allow you to both experience some fundamental phenomena and also to gain experience in how scientific questions are asked, answers sought and discoveries communicated. Below is the schedule of laboratories that are part of the course.

Week Laboratory Topic Assignment Type

Psychophysical Methods I: Thresholds (Read: Krantz Chapter 2) and Computation of Threshold



Psychophysical Methods II:
Signal Detection Theory and Magnitude Estimation (Read Ch 2) and Graphing with Excel

Problems and Graphs
PowerPoint outline showing how to do the ROC graph.  As PowerPoint; As web pages.


Psychophysical Methods III: Psychophysical Laws

Data Graphs with Interpretation (A mini results section)


Blakmore-Sutton Effect I : Turning demonstration into experiment

Small Groups: Present Data Interpretation
Do draft of stimulus section


Blakemore-Sutton Effect II: Analyzing Data relative to your hypothesis

Small Groups: Present Draft Stimulus Section
Problem Statement, Stimulus Section, Results, Summary


McCollough Effect I: Forming a Hypothesis

Small Groups: Present Data Analysis


McCollough Effect II:  Making Conclusions

Full Lab Report


Stereoscopic Size Constancy I: Making Quantitative Predictions



Stereoscopic Size Constancy II: Testing Quantitative Predictions

Small Groups: Present Quantitative Predictions



Stereoscopic Size Constancy III

Small Groups: Present Results
Lab report


Audition I:



Audition II:



Visit PSY220 Poster Session Tuesday 2-4:50

Assignments and Examinations:


There will be four examinations. The examinations will be a combination format of short answer items (such as identification) and longer essays. You should expect that the type of work required in the homework assignments will be required on the examinations. All examinations will be of a similar format. Also, all examinations will be cumulative because all later material builds on or relates to earlier material. Since each successive examination covers more material, each successive examination will be worth more according to the following chart.

Exam #1 75 points
Exam #2 100 points
Exam #3 125 points
Exam #4 200 points

Laboratory Assignments.

    There will be several types of laboratory assignments including problems, data analysis, graphing of results, and laboratory reports. These assignments are listed above in the schedule of the laboratories and will be described more in the labs where they are involved.  However, the labs have a cumulative set of purposes.  These purposes are two-fold: to develop skills at experimentation using the methods of sensation and perception and to develop skills at critically analyzing the results of these experiments.  Thus, assignments such as graphing may seem purely as a skill, but even here, how one graphs can greatly impact the way we interpret data.  Thus, understanding the impact of how a graph is constructed on interpretation can assist in a critical understanding of that data.

    The different types of assignments will be worth different point values depending on the size of the assignment.  The points will be given when the assignment is given out in lab.

    Small Group Discussions: As part of the fulfilling of your assignments, you will present what you have done to a group of me and two or three other students during the lab time.  The exact format will be discussed in class and settled on by all of us. 

Grading and Class Policies:

Class Participation:

Participation in and regular attendance of classroom activities and discussions will be worth 125 points. I expect each student to participate fully in discussions in class and laboratories. These discussions are integral to getting the greatest possible benefit from this class.

Late Policy:

An assignment is late 1 minute after the beginning of class. One letter grade will be subtracted for the first day late and another letter grade for each additional day, also beginning at the time of class plus one minute.


I grade on a point system which means that each assignment of the course is worth a certain amount of points towards the final grade. When you get an assignment back you will be given a grade with the points earned over the total number of points. Thus, you should be able to follow your progress in the course on your own.

Grades will be assigned as follows:




















< 60%