Cognitive Pyschology: Sensation and Perception

Our experiences of the world through vision, touch, smell, taste, and hearing inform most everything that we believe to be true. This course is an introduction to the scientific exploration of how the senses and perception operate. We will look at the latest discoveries from the fields of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, methodologies, history, as well as currently unanswered questions. People tend to think, naively, that there is not much to perceiving the world: we simply open our eyes and, hey presto, the world appears. However, there is a huge amount of complicated processing going on (most if not all of it unconsciously), and it is these processes, which have been discovered through empirical investigation, that we will be looking at over the course of the semester./p>

Some representative questions we will be seeking to answer are: How do scientists go about studying sensations and perceptions? How is energy from light converted into the electrical signals that lead to vision? How do we see the world in three dimensions given the two- dimensional retinal image? How is color created by the brain and what is it for? What role does attention play in perception? How do movies create the perception of objects in motion? What are the physical and psychological qualities of sound? How important is embodiment to cognition? What are some of the physical and psychological factors that influence our sense of touch, including its sensitivity and perception?

Readings for this course will be from primary-source material (e.g. peer-reviewed papers) as well as secondary-source material (chapters from a textbook.) Students will be assessed by two exams (a mid-term and a final), papers amounting to 20 finished pages of writing, including one extended piece of writing on a topic that they decide early in the semester, and other assignments, including class discussion, homework, and active participation in class demonstrations.

Credits: 3.00

Course Code: SS 369

Instructor(s): Jason Clarke

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.