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PSYB51H3 Lecture Notes - False Alarm

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Matthias Niemeier

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PSYB51: Lecture 01
Early philosophy of perception
Philosophy is where psychologically originate from it is fairly new science
19th century- philosophy & physiology creating psychology & psychophysics
oPsychophysics are set of tools & methods major scientific tools that are
used in certain areas psychology (science side) basically trying to describe
phenomena in psychology in mathematical sense w/ accuracy
Plato's allegory of the cave
Idea expressed in Matrix comes from Plato
All humans are just like prisoners & tied to that spaces by some walls thats
where they will be in their entire life they have small opening where light
comes in & cast shadows and echoes this is what prisoner knows
oour reality is defined (restricted) by our senses reality is limited, we
dont really see all what is out there
it is limited based on what we are able to perceive (based on senses)
CURRENT UNDERSTANDING: perception & senses of reality are products of
evolution our perception is determined by what is really important for us
oimportance of type of energy in the environment determines which senses have
oe.g. plants dont have neurons dont have reflex which include having
receptors w/ neuro-circuits w/ at least 2 neurons to some muscles BUT they
react to some sort of stimulation
for this plant only way to perceive the world is through the sense of touch 
important because via this they could catch fly & survive
Humans have different more type of senses have different reality
oE.g. animals different from humans that use different senses to navigate &
survive in the world bees use ultraviolet & snakes sense body heat (infra-
red) & dogs much better smell , auditory senses & birds have magnetic senses
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Have different types of receptors (or much richer receptors in certain sensory)
oSometime- our limitations in certain senses have to do w/ experiences & training
e.g. Ben Underwood who lost his eye-sight early in life w/ help &
training the senses made click sound & used type of a echolocation to locate
oSummary: though there is limitations in what we perceive perhaps its not
necessary or important to perceive or senses those that are outside of our
most of what we perceive depends on events (or energy ) that changes, not
what it is constant in the world & reality is restricted to things we can
perceive NOT JUST THIS
Something forgotten? Heraclitus philosopher (older than Plato)
you can never step into same river twice... everything is always changing
everything is always changing
Idea that perceiver cannot perceive the same event in exactly the same
manner each time experiencing because:
oExperience/ Learning - the first event changes the way we experience the
same event a second time
E.g. Demo 3: (goes for adaptation as well) depending on what you
learn before (mouse vs. face) you perceive differently the second time
oAdaptations temporary change in receptors reduction in response
caused by prior/ continuing stimulation (perception quickly comes to
ignore anything that stays same for very long)
E.g. Demo 1: reduction in color response this is an adaptation at a
very low levels
E.g. Demo 2: RS: if stare female face for a period of time the middle
face (computation average of male& female face) seems like male OR
LS: if stare male face for period of time the middle face seems like
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oBoth together are creating changes to way you perceived the same event
different the second time
Eludes to the fact we are better at perceiving change
Democritus (460-370 BCE) another philosopher
took some object broke that into 2s later took those pieces & broke
them into 2s and so on at some point it will be impossible to break
them into 2s he called that part atoms & further went to sate there is
different atoms for everything such as chair atoms etc. (this part of was
World is made up of atoms that collide w/ one another
believed that sensations are caused by atoms leaving objects and making
contact with our sense organs
oe.g. some chalk atoms interacting w/ our eyes (the atoms of our eyes)
(this is not true - at least for light we see photons from some light
source bouncing off object not peeling off them)
but there is some truth to it smell (olfaction)- comes close to his
theorizing where molecules peeling off & interacting w/ our senses
oour senses should be trusted because perception is result of physical
interaction b/w world and our bodies
primary qualities = directly perceived (weight + texture)
secondary qualities = requires interaction b/w atoms from objects and atoms
in perceiver
oThe book makes connection w/ these two to low-level & high level
perception thats pushing it too far
Concept of sensory transducers (modern term) = receptor that converts
physical energy from environment into neural activity 1st step of perception
(sensation) this idea goes back to him but confirmed in 19th century by
It is the idea that the mind produces ideas that are not derived from external
sources, that we have innate abilities that are not learned
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