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PSYC323 Sensation and Perception

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How the brain constructs reality.

This paper is an exploration of the sensory systems. 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 the sensory systems, examining the physiology and psychology behind sensation and perception. All five of the classic sensory systems will be covered; additional lecture topics include sensory deprivation, psychedelic drugs and the phenomenon of synaesthesia.

Paper title Sensation and Perception
Paper code PSYC323
Subject Psychology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,110.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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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: Dr Owen Jones

Paper Structure

This paper presents a survey of the following topics:

  • Psychophysics
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Audition
  • Vestibular Sensation
  • Vision
  • Clinical Case Studies
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Synaesthesia

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

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 12:00-12:50 9-12, 14-15, 18-22
Tuesday 12:00-12:50 9-12, 14-15, 17-22
Friday 15:00-15:50 9-12, 14, 17-22