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Laura Snodgrass, Ph.D.
Sensation & Perception Sensation & Perception
Statistics Statistics
Experimental Experimental
Cognitive Cognitive


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Text: Statistics: An Integrated Approach 4th Ed. by H.R. Shiffman.

Goals: This course meets the “science” perspective and thus one of the major goals is to introduce you to the kinds of questions that scientists ask and the methods that they use to answer those questions. Sensationa and Perception is the topic within science that we will use as a model.

Statistics itself has many interesting applications and connections. Understanding “S&P” is important for the advertising (what draws people’s attention to one type of packaging over another, does subliminal advertising work, how does music influence shoppers); the arts ( how do people respond to music, what makes one piece of music sad and another happy; how do painters produce realistsic looking pictures, how people respond to the emotional connotations of color, how to mix colors to produce stage lighting); film (how to give depth to the film image, the effects of camera angle and duration on perception); medicine (pain perception, perceptual abnormalities can be used to diagnose several illnesses and diseases); and a variety of other areas that I will touch on in the course. Our study of “S&P” will also overlap with many other areas of Psychology. We will talk about the hallucinations of shitzophrenics, changes in perception over the lifespan, emotional responses to perceptual experiences, and how perception is related to our experience of reality.

We will spend some time talking about the techniques that scientists use to investigate perceptual questions; psychophysics, single-cell recordings, preferential looking, speeded discriminations, and others. Most of the class will be devoted to the questions that perception researchers ask, and the answers that we have so far. There are many, many unanswered , or only partially answered, questions. One of the things that most fascinate me about perception is the many conundrums. For example, our best current theory about color perception indicates that we cannot possibly see brown.

I expect you to master a large body of material. You must learn a great deal of anatomy and the major theories within each subtopic. Details are important and you cannot give vague “in the ball park” answers. I grade strictly on the percent of material that you have mastered (improvement does not count). However, I will expend lots of effort helping you to master what I think is the most important material. I will provide study guides for every test. If you answer the questions on the study guide, you will have all the information you need for the exams (if it is not covered on the study guide, it is not on the exam). I also expect you to run an experiment. This will help to give you a feel for the scientific method and give you some experience writing like a scientist. This is an opportunity to ask and answer your own perception question.

Expectations: I expect you to attend class. In class we will do numerous demonstrations and often whole laboratory experiences. The labs reinforce or give you direct experience with the lecture material and I hope that they will make the material both easier to understand and more memorable. Although this is primarily a lecture course, I do expect participation. Your participation consists of being actively involved in the lab exercises, asking questions during class, being prepared and asking questions on review days and taking part in small group activities.

I expect you to write out the answers to the study guide questions. It does not work to just think the answers in your head. Read the book in order to answer the study guide - the only parts of the book that you need to know are the answers to study guide questions. There is very little reading required for this course, but there is a GREAT DEAL of studying required. Get started early and keep on top of the material!

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