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    How the brain constructs reality.

    This paper is an exploration of the sensory systems and perception. How does the brain construct reality? Sight, sound, touch, smell, taste - these are the processes that allow us to interact with the world and with each other, ultimately enabling us to build our own individualised versions of reality. In this paper we explore the amazing capabilities of our brains in constructing perceptions from sensory experiences. Examples of misperceptions in which our brains are fooled, such as in perceptual illusions, as well as everyday sensory-perceptual experiences that make up our realities will be covered. Lecture topics range from sensory-perceptions associated with vision, audition, haptic sensation, space, and cross modality effects such as synaesthesia.

    About this paper

    Paper title Sensation and Perception
    Subject Psychology
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,173.30
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    PSYC 210 and PSYC 211 and PSYC 212
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music, Science
    For Neuroscience students the prerequisite is PSYC211.

    With departmental approval, a student who has achieved a grade of at least B+ in each of PSYC 210 and 212 may take no more than one of PSYC 313-331 concurrently with PSYC 211.

    With departmental approval, a student who has achieved a grade of at least B+ in PSYC 211 may take no more than one of PSYC 313-331 concurrently with PSYC 210 and 212.


    Teaching staff

    Lecturer: Professor Liz Franz

    Paper Structure

    This paper presents a survey of the following topics:

    • Psychophysics
    • Haptic/space sensations and perceptions
    • Visual-somatosensory sensations and perceptions (illusions)
    • Clinical Case Studies
    • Consciousness
    • Body schema and motor perceptions
    • Synaesthesia
    • Amusia
    • Phantom pain and movement experiences

    Each week's topic will be presented in lecture, and then, a short supplementary reading will be assigned. One week's reading may consist of a few newspaper articles, while another week's reading may be a chapter from a popular science book; all readings will be accessible via Blackboard.


    As a reference text students may wish to use:

    Mather, G. (2016). Foundations of Sensation and Perception (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will develop:

    •    A foundational understanding of the sensory-perceptual systems 
    •    An appreciation of the roles of nature and nurture in perceptual development 
    •    Recognition of the ever-increasing interplay between technology and sensation/perception


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Monday 12:00-12:50 9-13, 15-22
    Wednesday 12:00-12:50 9-13, 15-22
    Thursday 12:00-12:50 9-12, 15-16, 18-19, 21-22

    Terms Test (Streamed)

    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Thursday 18:00-20:50 13, 20
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