University of California Davis
Perception PSY 131
Session 1 Section 1
Units 4 CRN: 52631
Lecture: 184 Young Hall Time: M-T-W: 14:10-15:50
Instructor: Chris T. Tromborg, Ph.D.
Office: 268 F Young Hall Time: M-T-W-Th: 13:00-14:00
Phone: 1-530-754-8298 e-mail: email@example.com
Text: Sensation and Perception: An integrated approach (5th ed.)
By Harvey Richard Schiffman
(John Wiley and Sons: 2006). ISBN: 978-0471-249-306
Perception is a 4 unit upper division course. Prerequisites include Psychology 1, Psychology 41,
Psychology 101, or consent of the instructor. The course format includes two two-hour lectures and
one one -hour exam period each week. Lectures are augmented with extensive video support. This
course embraces a physiological perspective: It focuses on the processes of sensation (reception-
transduction-encoding) and perception (integration-organization) which allow organisms to extract and
utilize information from their surroundings. The course begins with a historical retrospective into the
development of the philosophy of science, the scientific method, and early perspectives on
psychophysics and perception.
The course considers the importance of evolution, development, instinct, learning, and disease as the
processes of vision, audition, olfaction, gustation, and mechanoreception are explored, though vision
and audition are emphasized. The anatomy of the visual system, color perception, perception of form,
perception of movement, visual development, and visual defects are explored.
Similarly, the auditory system, the perception of speech, appreciation of music, and diseases of the
auditory system are presented. Controversies related to the relative importance of innate versus
acquired factors in perceptual processes are also considered.
The instructor will employ a comparative approach in surveying the course materials, utilizing a multitude
of cross-taxonomic examples to illustrate the fundamental principles of perception.
Upon completion of this course, students should possess an improved appreciation for the
complexity of the mechanisms underlying bottom up (physiological) and top down (psychological)
processes--and how their integration produces perception.
More precisely, you should be able to:
~ Articulate how the scientific method is used to investigate the relationships between the nervous
system and perception.
~ Differentiate between the various techniques and approaches employed by scientists in various areas
of psychophysics and perceptual science.
~ Employ critical thinking skills to assess the merits of claims made by proponents and opponents of
research in perception presented in the popular press.
~ Explain individual variation in patterns of perception.
~ Analyze and describe some of the current theories used to explain the complexity of human vision and
~ Compare human perception with that of non-human species and describe the methods used to
demonstrate species similarities and differences.
~ Connect the role of neurological structures and psychological disorders to related perceptual
~ Develop strategies for using your knowledge of perception to improve the understanding of others
whom you interact with about the processes of perception.
~ Encourage creative approaches toward developing adaptive aids to promote independence in special
There will be five equally weighted 50 point exams. Please purchase form #2000. The lowest
of the scores from the second, third, or fourth exam will be dropped during the calculation of the final
Exams absolutely must be taken on the Thursdays when scheduled except for compelling
reasons (to be determined by your professor).
The tests will consist of objective (multiple choice) items, derived from both the textbook and the
lecture. There is simply too much material in the assigned readings to be covered during the time
allocated for lecture. Consequently, students are expected to read all assignments before each lecture
and are advised to read beyond the minimum assignment. This facilitates more productive, illustrative
discussion in class.
Responsibilities and Suggestions for Success
Psychobiology, Biology, Physiology, Sensory Processes, Animal Cognition, or Environmental
Awareness would provide students with a useful background for this course.
Attendance is important. You are encouraged to attend class: Students who do not attend lecture
during the first week will be dropped from the course. Thereafter, students missing more than eight
hours of lecture may be dropped from the class. It is your responsibility to officially obtain a withdrawal
from this course. Failure to do so may result in an F grade.
Please attempt to arrive to class on time and plan to remain for the duration of the lecture to minimize
disrupting others. Students should not engage in conversations unrelated to course materials during
Students are encouraged to remain current in the readings in order to facilitate discussion in class.
Prepared students are able to present informed questions that can clarify points of confusion for
themselves and others.
You should consider bringing your book to class and then to participate in class discussion. Failure to
participate will be reflected in your performance on exams and in your final grade.
Outside of class, students should attempt to work together on course materials, including studying for
Students must take exams when they are scheduled. A student missing an exam will receive zero
points and this score will be treated as their low exam score, which is not entered into the consideration
of the final grade.
Students missing two exams or receiving a grade of D or lower on two exams are likely to be
automatically dropped from the class.
Students must arrive within fifteen minutes of the beginning of the exam, after which the exam is closed:
You have up to 60 minutes to complete exams.
No electronic devices may be used within the context of exams unless authorized by your professor,
and then only for compelling reasons.
Cheating on exams will be rewarded with a grade of F and subsequent disciplinary actions.
Students with learning or other disabilities should speak to the instructor, who will place them in contact
with the Disability Resource Center or other student services.
Please deactivate all casual communications devices within the classroom.
There is no "+-" grading.
200-180=A; 179-160=B; 159-140=C; 139-120=D; 119 and below=F.
Tentative Course Schedule
The term begins on June 21 and concludes on July 30. The final day of instruction is July 29.
July 4 is a national holiday.
We reserve the right to alter schedules as the course proceeds.
June 21-24: Introduction to the Course & Your Textbook
Perspectives of the Instructor
Introduction to Sensation & Perception
Ch. 1 pg. 1
Basic Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology
Basic Concepts in Evolutionary Biology
Ch. 2 pg. 23
Introduction to Visual Perception
June 28-July 1: Exam One
The Visual System
Ch. 3 pg. 46
Fundamental Visual Functions and Phenomena
Ch. 4 pg. 89
Comparative Perceptual Processes
How other animals perceive the world
June 28-July 1: More vision
Ch. 5 pg. 116
Visual Pattern and Form Perception:
Basic Processes of Perceptual Organization
Ch. 6 pg. 142
July 5-8: Exam Two
Higher Processes of Perceptual Organization
Ch. 7 pg. 168
Perception of Movement
Ch. 8 pg. 194
Perception of Space: Monocular and Binocular Vision
Ch. 9 pg. 218
July 12-15: More Damned Vision
Constancy & Illusion
Ch. 10 pg. 250
Ch. 11 pg. 287
July 19-22: Exam Three
The Auditory System
Ch. 12 pg. 315
Fundamental Auditory Functions and Phenomena
Ch. 13 pg. 347
Auditory Pattern Perception: Sound as Information
Ch. 14 pg. 361
July 26-29: Exam Four
The Orienting Sense
Ch. 15 pg. 398
The Skin Senses
Ch. 16 pg. 412
July 26-29: Other Sensory Modalities
The Chemical Sense of Taste
Ch. 17 pg. 449
The Chemical Sense of Smell
Ch. 18 pg. 468
The Perception of Time: Protensity
Ch. 19 pg. 491
Comparative Psychophysical and Perceptual Studies
Course retrospective and Review
July 30: End of Summer Session I
We reserve the right to alter schedules as the course proceeds.