Psychology 2115A-001

Introduction to Sensation and Perception

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


An introduction to the study of the human senses and higher order perceptual processes. Data gathered from psychophysical research and studies of the nervous system in both humans and other animals will be discussed. The course will review the mechanisms and principles of operation of vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell.


Antirequisite(s): Psychology 2015a/b and the former Psychology 215a/b


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisite(s): At least 60% in a 1000 level Psychology course.

                          4 lecture hours, .5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisite for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from the course and it will be deleted from your record.  This decision may not be appealed.  You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.  Your attention to this matter will not only help protect your academic record but will ensure that spaces are available for students who require this course for graduation.


Course Overview:


      This course is a survey of most of the basic issues in sensation and perception.  Any student who successfully completes it should have the background for other undergraduate courses in these areas. 


Instructor:  Stephen Lupker                                       Teaching Assistant:  Ysabel Domingo

Office:  7324 SSC                                                       Office:  7307 SSC      

Phone:  661-2111, Ext. 84700                                                E-mail:               

E-mail:                                             Office Hours:              9:00-10:00 (T)

Office Hours:  11:00-12:00 (T)                                                                                                          

                        11:00-12:00 (W)

            2:30-4:20 p.m.  Monday 2024 SSC

            2:30-4:20 p.m.  Wednesday 2024 SSC

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Coren, S., Ward, L. & Enns, J.T. (2004). Sensation and Perception (sixth edition).  Wiley. 



The goal of this course is to enable students to demonstrate that they know:


- how to explain theories about perceptual and sensory processes

- how to evaluate data in assessing the proposed theories of perceptual and sensory processes

- how to describe the experimental techniques involved in data collection when examining perceptual and sensory processes

- how to communicate the results of the important experiments


The ways in which students will be assessed in order to evaluate the extent to which they have achieved these goals will include quizzes and a final exam and these will need to be completed within the times specified by the instructor.



      There will be 3 quizzes and a Final Exam.  All will have a short answer format.  The topics in this course fit nicely into four main areas:  psychophysics, the sense organs, classical issues in perception and issues in attention/development.  The first quiz will come at the end of the first section on psychophysics.  The second quiz will come at the end of the second section on the sense organs and it will cover only that section.  The third quiz will come at the end of the third section on classical issues in perception and cover only that section.  There will be no makeup or early quizzes, however, students can be excused from quizzes if they have a legitimate, documented excuse.  The Final Exam will be scheduled by the Registrar’s Office and will be held during the final examination period.  It will cover the entire course.  The material on the final exam will, however, be drawn mainly from the final section of the course.


      The weighting of these tests in determining your final mark will be as follows:


                                    Each quiz         20%

                                    Final Exam      40%


      The purpose of the quizzes and Final Exam is to evaluate your ability to accurately answer specific questions about topics covered in the lectures and the text book.  They are not intended to be speeded exams.  Thus, although students will have 2 hours for each quiz, the expectation is that most of you will finish well before the time limit has expired.  No electronic devices, including cell phones, will be allowed during quizzes and exams. 

Policy Regarding Missed Quizzes/Final Exam:


Although, as noted, there will be no make-up mid-term quizzes, students are entitled to be excused from quizzes for legitimate medical or compassionate reasons.  In all cases, it is the student's responsibility to inform the instructor in a timely fashion and to provide acceptable documentation to support a medical or compassionate claim to an Academic Counsellor in their home faculty or risk his or her claim being denied.  These documents must indicate that the student was unable to attend the quiz at the time it was given.  Statements indicating simply that the student visited a doctor at some point in time are insufficient.  As stated on the UWO website, students must see the Academic Counsellor in order to submit all required documentation when requesting approval for certain accommodation:  In the case of a missed Final Examination, the student must arrange for a Special Examination or an Incomplete through their Dean's office, for which the student will, of course, be required to provide acceptable documentation.  (See also Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness   Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to problems in determining your final mark.


      If you feel that you have a medical or personal problem that is interfering with your work, you should contact your instructor and the Faculty Academic Counselling Office as soon as possible.  Problems may then be documented and possible arrangements to assist you can be discussed at the time of occurrence rather than on a retroactive basis.  In general, retroactive requests for grade revisions on medical or compassionate grounds will not be considered.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows Western's grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


September 27              QUIZ

October 25              QUIZ

November 20              QUIZ

December 10-21         FINAL EXAMINATION (DATE TBA)


Course Outline and Reading Assignments:

Sequence of Topics                 Readings


Introduction                             Chapter 1

                                    Psychophysics                         Pages 13-18, 25-28

                                    Signal Detection                       Pages 18-25

                                    Scaling                                     Pages 30-37                


September 27              QUIZ


The Ear                                                Pages 116-131 and 154-161

                                    The Eye                                   Pages 50-61 and 80-109

The Other Senses                     Chapter 7 (not 182-184, 190-195, 196-200 and 204-207)


October 25                  QUIZ                         


                                    Space Perception                     Pages 258-280 and 149-153

                                    Form Perception                      Pages 216-218, 231-254, 313-319 and 341-343

                                    The Constancies                      Pages 298-313

                                    Time and Motion Perception    Pages 346-359, 365-372 and 381-384

                                    Speech Perception                   Pages 168-178


November 20              QUIZ 


                                    Auditory Attention (classical)  Pages 398-404 and 417-419

                                    Visual Attention (classical)               

                                    Visual Attention (modern)       Pages 404-411

                                    Perceptual Development          Pages 287-290, 455-459 and 477-487


December 10-21         FINAL EXAMINATION PERIOD


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.

Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations:


      In the first instance, all appeals of a grade must be made to the course instructor (informal consultation).  If the student is not satisfied with the decision of the course instructor, a written appeal must be sent to the Executive Officer of Undergraduate Affairs.  If the response of the department is considered unsatisfactory to the student, he/she may then appeal to the Dean of the Faculty in which the course or program was taken.  Only after receiving a final decision from the Dean may a student appeal to the Senate Review Board Academic.  A Guide to Appeals is available from the Ombudsperson's Office.