Perception and Cognition
I) Course information
Course code: PSYB51H3 S
Time: Fridays 11am-2pm. Lectures will be posted on BackBoard (BB), usually on the day
of the lecture. Lectures will be available throughout the term.
Prerequisites: PSYA01 & PSYA02 (cannot be waived, no exceptions)
Theory and research on perception and cognition, including visual, auditory and tactile
perception, representation, and communication. Topics include cognition and perception
in the handicapped and normal perceiver; perceptual illusion, noise, perspective, shadow
patterns and motion, possible and impossible scenes, human and computer scene
analysis, ambiguity in perception, outline representation. The research is on adults and
children, and different species. Demonstrations and exercises form part of the course
III) Course staff:
Dr. Matthias Niemeier
IV) Textbook (required)
Title: Sensation and Perception, 3 edition (no other edition)
Authors: J. Wolfe et al.
V) Web page
Course Web Site: BlackBoard (BB)
Here you will find the syllabus, and announcements. Also, I will put the lecture slides on
Please check on a regular basis for announcements.
1 VI) Contact:
e-mail: [email protected]
Please direct emails to the dedicated course address. A TA will go through all emails and
answer standard course questions or quick questions about content. At times the TA
might refer you to the syllabus or BB. At other times s/he might ask to have longer
questions (>5 min) or lists of questions answered during office hours. If in doubt about the
correct answer s/he might forward emails to me. If you do email me directly, I might
forward your email to the TA which prolongs response time. Exception is if you have a
question of personal matter directed to me. To help me recognize such emails please
write ‘PSYB51 – personal’ in the subject section.
Instructor office hours (SW550, inner office)
TA office hours (SW550, outer office)
30% Mid-term test 1. Scheduled for TBA. Two hours.
30% Mid-term test 2. Scheduled for TBA. Two hours.
40% Final Term test. TBA. Two hours.
You are required to write all exams. Exams will have multiple-choice and short-
answer questions. The MCQs are meant to test your knowledge of the material.
SAQs are included because they measure conceptual understanding of the material.
Furthermore, SAQs will encourage you to work on your written communication skills.
VIII) Doing well in the course
Know what material is expected: Material on the exams will include lecture
materials and text readings. Although the topics covered will overlap, different things
may be emphasized in class than in the book or other readings. Exam questions will
only refer to concepts discussed in class but you need the textbook material to better
understand and enrich the lecture material. So, make sure to read all the required
textbook materials and, of course, you need to go to / watch all lectures. The final
exam will be cumulative in terms of the MCQs and non-cumulative in terms of the
Look out for concepts: Concepts are the scaffold of knowledge. Details are
important too, especially in a course like PSYB51. But you need a structure to make
sense of all the details.
Start studying now: Avoid cramming. If you feel you have no time to study during
week 1, you won’t find time later. Note that postponing studying and pulling a couple
all-nighters before an exam, is a poor strategy. Sleep is how we consolidate
memories. Memorizing without sleep is like loading stuff on a truck but leaving the
doors open. When you drive around the next corner you’ll loose all your stuff.
2 Make sure to read the textbook chapters before the respective lecture so that it’s
easier to understand the lectures and so that you have a structure of what to expect.
If you take the online course don’t let a week pass without watching one or more
Learn in teams: I highly recommend forming study groups and test and quiz one
another with questions. Common excuses:
- “I don’t know anybody in the course.” But there is Facebook etc. to get in
- “I have no time.” See my earlier comment regarding time.
- “I’m smarter than the others. I won’t get anything out of being a pro bono
tutor.” You are mistaken. Tutors learn more than anybody else.
- “I’m less smart than the others.” Well, first off: I don’t think that’s true,
everyone has their moment to shine. Secondly, make sure to be prepared
for your meetings. Thirdly, read what I just said about tutors.
It is very helpful to meet with others and practice in such a way for exams especially
because these are good simulations of writing SAQs during exams.
Prepare cheat sheets. Just to be clear: using cheat sheets during tests/exams is an
academic offence. But creating them is a helpful practice to learn. Here’s how you do
it: you take your lecture notes and copy the important things onto a few pages (cheat
sheets need to be small of course). Well, it’s likely that you end up with something
that is still too large. So now you take your over-sized cheat sheets and condense the
material further, and perhaps you do that several times. In the end you will have
rehearsed the course material several times but more importantly: you will have
summarized the material. Summarizing requires sound conceptual understanding of
the material and therefore helps learning.
Make use of office hours: If y