Course Exam – Sensation and Perception (PSYC 333)

Athabasca University’s Centre for Psychology has been hard at work again! Update your AU course catalogue to include another new psychology course entitled, Sensation and Perception (PSYC 333). Scheduled to open in mid-December, Sensation and Perception focuses on the human brain and explores how the brain is involved in “receiving and processing information from the environment.” After completing Sensation and Perception (PSYC 333), you will have gained new insights on taken-for-granted sensations like smell, taste, hearing, vision, and others.

A three-credit course in the Social Sciences, Sensation and Perception (PSYC 333) consists of 16 units, each of which is guaranteed to amaze you (in my opinion)! In the first unit, you will be introduced to the concepts of sensation and perception and how they differ. You will also realize the “importance of perception and the perceptual process,” indicates course professor Dr. Gilbert. Over the next two units, you will discuss brain structures that are responsible for perceptual processes. You will also “describe receptors and neural processing,” as well as the importance of brain structures in perception (like the lateral geniculate nucleus and the striate cortex). Dr. Gilbert mentioned that Unit 4 involves learning about visual processing and the “significance of the binding problem.” Over the next two units, you will learn how you perceive objects and colour, focusing on the “perceptual organization of objects,” according to Dr. Gilbert, as well as the current theories of colour vision.

Once you have mastered these concepts, you will proceed to understanding how the brain detects depth and size, as well as movement and action. You will discuss depth cues (such as monocular and binocular), and have fun experimenting with illusions. Additionally, Dr. Gilbert indicates that you will become familiar with “neural feature detectors” in the brain, as well as the “visual control of action and neural pathways for perception and action.” The next several units focus on auditory principles and how the brain translates the spoken word into meaningful messages. You will learn the physiology of the body’s auditory system, the “characteristics of sound localization” and the “dimensions of speech perception,” according to Dr. Gilbert. Units 13 and 14 detail the cutaneous and chemical senses. In the last two units, Dr. Gilbert indicates that the “development of the perceptual system” is discussed, with special emphasis on the “consequences of damage to the visual and auditory systems.”

Your evaluation in PSYC 333 consists of five quizzes (worth 5 percent each), a term paper (worth 35 percent), and a final exam (worth 40 percent). Dr. Gilbert indicates that the term paper is about 10-13 pages (up to 4000 words) long and deals with a topic related to sensation or perception. Suggested topics include plasticity, changes in perception associated with brain damage, how the brain develops perceptions, and topics surrounding pain. However, you also have the option of choosing a different topic for your term paper that is still related to the course material.

Start off the New Year with a resolution to learn about how your brain enables you to hear, see, smell, and taste. Enrol in Sensation and Perception (PSYC 333)! For more information, visit the course syllabus at www.athabascau.ca/html/syllabi/psyc/psyc333.htm

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