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PSY 280 L09.12 - Intro to Perception

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Matthias Niemeier

PSY 280 – P ERCEPTION M. N IEMEIER 09/12/12 [email protected] Office: SS 4001, W 1:15-2:15 TAs: Lok-kin Yeung, Robin Nguyen Evaluations: - 2 midterms, 2h each (30% each) - Final exam, 3h (40%) o Per exam, there is equal weights on Short Answers and Multiple Choice  3 out of 4 short answers  60 MCs  Missed exams need a doctor’s note  **FINAL EXAM IS CUMULATIVE - Optional 1% for volunteer research participation o Sign up at “What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell. What you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. This is the world that you know.” --- Morpheus’ answer to Neo in The Matrix, 1999 - Sensation: the ability to detect a stimulus and, perhaps, to turn that detection into a private experience - Perception: the act of giving meaning to a detected sensation Early Philosophy of Perception - Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” o Our conception of reality is critically dependent on information gathered through our senses - What we perceived is limited, there is a duality to it - Perception and your sense of reality are the products of evolution: o Survival o Importance of type of energy in the environment determines which senses have developed  I.e., we might not see the entire reality but we probably don’t need to worry too much - Plato: Our understanding of reality is restricted to the things that we can perceive - Heraclitus: “You can never step into the same river twice” o Panta Rhei = everything flows  Idea that perceiver cannot perceive the same event in exactly the same manner each time • I.e., however much some situations may seem to be alike, they are still very much different in the smallest ways  Experience / Learning  Adaptation – a reduction in response caused by prior or continuing stimulation  Change o In perception, (only) change matters… - Democritus: the world is made up of atoms that collide with one another o Sensations are caused by atoms leaving objects and making contact with our sense organs o  Perception is the result of the physical interaction between the world and our bodies - Sensory transducer: a receptor that converts physical energy from the environment into neural activity Nativism and Empiricism - Nativism: the idea that the mind produces ideas that are not derived from external sources o Plato: truest sense of reality comes from people’s minds and souls - 2000 years later … Descartes’ dualist view of the world: both mind and body exist o Mind-body dualism: the idea positing the existence of two distinct principles of being in the universe ~ spirit / soul and matter / body  E.g., Descartes - Monism: the idea that the mind and matter are formed from, or reducible to, a single ultimate substance or principle of being - Materialism: the idea that physical matter is the only reality, and everything including the mind can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena. Materialism is a type of monism - Empiricism: the idea that experience from the senses is the only source of knowledge o Hobbes believed that everything that could ever be known or even imagined had to be learned through the senses o Locke sought to explain how all thoughts, even complex ones, could be constructed from experience with a collection of sensations Dawn of Psychophysics - Fechner invented psychophysics, thought to be the true founder of experimental psychology o Pioneering work relating changes in the physical world to changes in our psychological experiences - Panpsychism: the idea that all matter has consciousness (Fechner) - Pschophysics: the science of defining quantitative relationships between physical and psychological (subjective) events - Weber discovered that the smallest change in a stimulus, such as the weight of an object, that can be detected is a constant proportion of the stimulus level – “Weber’s Law” - JND (Just Noticeable Difference): The smallest detectable difference between two stimuli, or the minimum change in a stimulus that can be correctly judged as different from a reference stimulus. Also known as difference threshold o Two-point threshold: the minimum distance at which two stimuli (e.g., two simultaneous touches) can be distinguished - Fechner’s Law: a principle describing the relationship between stimulus magnitude and resulting sensation magnitude
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