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Unit of study_

PSYC3013: Perceptual Systems

How do we know what’s out in the world? Indeed, how do we know anything at all? Sensing the world around us and turning that into a reliable representation that can guide behaviour and knowledge is fundamental to everything we do. The acts of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ seem effortless and instantaneous, yet perception poses enormous challenges and is probably the most complex problem the brain must solve. In this course, you will learn how we see colour and movement, how we perceive surfaces and know materials, and how a robust perception must combine other senses such as sound, vision and touch, or taste and smell? You will also learn about the limits of perception, and surprisingly, how much it uses guesswork, prediction and filling-in to compensate. This unit draws on multiple perspectives (behaviour, neurophysiology, modelling, neuroimaging) to answer these questions and deepen your understanding of perception. The lecturers are all research-active leaders in the field and present the latest work on these research topics. Students will gain conceptual tools for evaluating the empirical and theoretical worth of recent research in perception and the tutorial component will involve working in small groups to formulate a hypothesis and develop a simple experiment to test it by collecting and analysing data. Students thus gain practical research experience that gives them valuable insight into the scientific process as it exists both in professional work and in empirical research project for Honours.

Code PSYC3013
Academic unit Psychology Academic Operations
Credit points 6
(PSYC2010 or PSYC2910 or PSYC2011 or PSYC2911 or PSYC2016) and PSYC2012

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. have a deep understanding of various areas of visual perception and a familiarity with auditory and tactile perception, too.
  • LO2. gain an understanding of the various research methods used in perceptual research and an understanding of the computational and neurophysiological underpinnings of perceptual processes.
  • LO3. gain an understanding of perceptual science, its methods, and how to present it to others.
  • LO4. (i) develop knowledge of several of the perceptual problems the brain must solve (such as combining information from distinct senses) (ii) Appreciation of common processing principles for how the brain solves perceptual problems (such as adaptation) (iii) Conceptual understanding of the limits on human perception and how they relate to the underlying mechanisms (such as acuity) (iv) Understanding of specific perceptual phenomena and how they arise as a consequence of processing architecture, especially in vision and audition (v) Basic knowledge of methods and measures commonly used in perception research (vi) Ability to understand and evaluate empirical studies in perception
  • LO5. (i) develop an understanding of the major methods of perceptual research (ii) Critically assess research findings and related theories in these areas (iii) Design and conduct basic studies to address perceptual questions: frame research questions; undertake literature searches; critically analyse theoretical and empirical studies; formulate testable hypotheses; operationalise variables; choose an appropriate methodology; make valid and reliable measurements; analyse data and interpret results; and write research reports.
  • LO6. (i) demonstrate an attitude of critical thinking that includes persistence, open---mindedness, and intellectual engagement. (ii) Evaluate evidence & information; differentiate empirical evidence from speculation. (iii) Think about how perception might be achieved mechanistically (iv) Evaluate issues using different theoretical and methodological approaches. (v) Use reasoning and evidence to recognise, develop, defend, and criticise arguments.
  • LO7. (i) develop an awareness of the applications of the theories and findings in the area. (ii) Apply psychological concepts, theories, and research findings to problems in everyday life and in society. (iii) Understand major areas of applied Perceptual Psychology.