Meeting Times: Class: MTWF: 2:40-3:50 PM, SCC 147
Laboratory: T:  10-11:45 AM or 2:15-4:00 PM, SCC 130
Instructor: John H. Krantz Office: Science Center 151
Texts: Sensation and Perception, 2nd ed.
by Schwartz & Krantz.  Other materials as provided.
Phone: x7316
Click here to see my calendar


Office Hours: 
M: 1:30-2:30 pm
T: 9-10 am
W: 4-5 pm
Th: 1:30-2:30 pm
Others by appointment


this is the revised Syllabus taking into account the changed to online class beginning March 20, 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. This syllabus will be a work in progress throughout the term check and announcements on Teams for any changes. Please check here for information about academic credit policies that the college has put in place as a result of the changes to instruction (Link not available yet.).

Mar 23, 2020
The initial approach to this course will be synchronous using Microsoft Teams.  Thurs, our first class on the resumed schedule will be at 2:40 pm March 30, 2020.  Please contact me as soon as possible if you have any issues.  I will record the classes so they will show up on the Teams site and on Microsoft Stream.  Before Monday, please make sure you have Microsoft Teams and that you see the sensation and perception class on your list of teams.  Below I will indicate the first draft of the changes to the schedule.

Mar 04, 2020

  1. Find painting or create photograph that violates size constancy.
    • If do photograph, create two photographs
      • 1 shows the illusion
      • 1 shows how the illusion is made
      • Be creative
  2. Not simple illusion
  3. In groups
  4. Send to me by Friday at 5 pm
  5. Be ready to discuss in class on Monday – do not need to send me your explanation.

Feb 17, 2019
Motion Data:
Use ISLE 8.2. Motion Thresholds

  • Use the following conditions
    • Stimulus Settings
      • Stimulus Type: Checkerboard, Motion Jump
      • Contrast: Do not change
      • Stimulus Position: 5 Levels: 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 0.9
      • Background Level: Unchanged
    • Method Settings
      • Number of Levels of Critical Feature: Unchanged
      • Number of Staircases: 10
      • Minimum Value: Unchanged
      • Maximum Value: 10
    • Results: Collect Threshold
    • Upload to Moodle by 9 pm tonight in this spreadsheet

Motion Questions or Examples

  • In groups of 3-4
  • Answer one of the following questions:
    1. Explain how Film Works to create the illusion of motion
    2. What does the motion aftereffect tell us about seeing still?
    3. The spiral illusion works on your face after viewing a spiral. Why?
    4. Explain the Phi Phenomenon and give one real world example.
    5. What do the Law of Common Fate, Structure from Motion and Biological Motion illustrations all have in common?
    6. Think of a real world example of the difference in motion sensitivity and acuity in the periphery.
    7. Or illustration on YouTube or other video clip of one or more of these phenomena – but the video cannot be so named
  • Email me before tomorrows at 2 pm with your group's three top choices. First come first served.
  • Send example or draft by 2:30 pm (before class) Wednesday
  • Be prepared to present in class on Friday

Feb 14, 2020

Create your own set of stereo pair photos

  • send both pairs to me
  • labeling which image is left eye and which is right eye
  • keep camera stable, place on something flat you can move or a tripod
  • the two images should be 6 cm to 7.5 cm (for more depth and farther objects) apart
  • but both images should point to same central object
  • I will create an anaglyph and we will view Monday
  • We will pick one or two to share

Do in groups of 3-4

Due to me by 5pm Sunday

Here is an example:
Left Eye                                                                        Right Eye

Stereo image Left Eye Stereo image Right Eye

Final image I will create
Stereo image final anaglyph

Feb 10, 2020

  1. Find or create a painting/drawing that illustrates the use of monocular/pictorial depth cues
  2. Identify the pictorial cues present and where
  3. In groups of 3-4
  4. Send in painting by Thursday at 3:00 pm
  5. Be prepared to present Friday in class

Feb 07, 2020
Homework: create images that illustrate the three types of dichromats. Run the picture through Simulating Dichromacy for each type of dichromat. Do not use an image in the app but upload your own.  Use the same image for all three types of dichromacy. Get a screen capture, but only of the two versions of the image (normal and the version of the dichromat). Name the file after the type of dichromat. Upload to Moodle to me by 5 pm Sunday evening.

Example image of one of the three you should submit:

sample of home work image

Feb 3, 2020

  1. Find a picture that:
    • Your options are
      1. Picture to show use of complementary colors to increase contrast, or
      2. Picture that uses color aftereffects, correctly and incorrectly.
    • Send to me by 3 pm on Thursday. Be prepared to present on Friday or Monday.
    • Do in groups of 3-4.
  2. Individually:
    1. Figure out the primary colors as you were taught them in school.
    2. Find a color printer, what color inks do they use?
    3. Get a magnifying class or jeweler’s loupe and look at a white area on a monitor. What color dots make it up?
    4. How do all these fit together, if they do.
    5. Enter your ideas on Moodle by Tomorrow at 5 pm. Be prepared to discuss in class on Wednesday.

Jan 27, 2020
Find/create art, photograph, other media that illustrates:

  1. Role of contrast/contour (edges) in creating the perception of a form, or
  2. The role of one or more Gestalt Law in creating the perception of a form

Cannot be a standard illusion. Send to me by Wednesday 5:00 pm. You will present in class on Monday.
In groups of 3 or 4.

Jan 20, 2020
Do one of the following questions with three (or four) others.
Email me suggested answer by Wednesday, Jan 22, at 4. Present in class next Friday, Jan 23. Email me group and your first three choices. I will tell you the question you get to do. First come, first served.

  1. Explain why tail lights are red – how does that color help the driver following see at night
  2. Why are the blue headlights that are one some cars a really bad idea
  3. What is different about looking at red LED clock lights at night and the blue LCD lights at night – why?
  4. Take a red object and a blue object outside – say to point. View as dusk falls to twilight – what changes happen in them and why?
  5. Why can you write out words with sparklers at night?
  6. Why can’t you watch a regular television outside during the day?
  7. What are crucial factors in deciding the size of dots that make up computer screens?
  8. Is it possible to see wheels rotating backwards in the real world?
  9. What environmental conditions make it hard to see electronic displays in cars and why?

Jan 6, 2020
I hope that all of you had a wonderful break.   I am really looking forward to this class.  I hope that you have as much fun as I know I will.

Look here for future announcements about the course


General Description:

Welcome you to Sensation and Perception and thank you for joining me on this journey into both the mystery and knowledge that we have of an aspect of our mind that most of us take for granted: our senses.  Broadly speaking, the study of sensation and perception is the study of how an organism's brain knows what is going on in the world around it. To help you appreciate the questions that scientists studying sensation and perception struggle with, think of the captain of a ship far out to sea. What does that captain need to know to safely sail the ship? The captain must be able to detect obstacles, other ships, and weather conditions such as storms that may effect the operation and safety of the ship. To perform these functions, the captain has radar, sonar and other sensor systems to gain information about the ocean environment. In addition, the captain must know about the operating condition of the ship, such as fuel level and temperature of the engine. Sensors have been placed in the ship to give the captain the needed information. A limited analogy can be drawn between your brain or mind and the captain.  In the same manner as the captain, your brain does not have direct access to the information necessary to behave in an intelligent and effective manner. Thus, our sensory systems such as vision and audition are like the radar and sonar which provides necessary information to guide behavior.  You also have sensory systems that obtain information about the state of your body such as your position relative to the ground.

This course is part of the Scientific, Mathematical and Algorithmic Methods CCR as such many of you might be taking this course far outside your major. It is of value to consider why we do that to you for a moment.  Let me quote from the Hanover College catalog for a description of the liberal arts:

The liberal arts are arts suited for free people. The purpose of a liberal arts education is to enable such people to cultivate humanity, to realize their full potential as human beings and as citizens. Accordingly, the liberal arts are designed to equip individuals to develop and integrate every dimension of their own humanity--physical, intellectual, artistic, ethical, and spiritual--and to understand and respect the humanity of others. (p. 8)

This course fits this description in many ways.  I want to highlight only a few.  First, to develop ourselves, we must know ourselves.  Our senses are among the most misunderstood aspects of our human nature.  Thus, in this course will be working against a large body of misunderstanding.  Second, issues in this course are applicable to the way we interact with art and technology in the world around us.  As such, this course can help us integrate knowledge from many areas into a more coherent view of the world and ourselves.


Due to the fact that this course plays many different types of roles in the college, I have grouped the objectives into different categories. Depending upon the reason you are in this course, you may not see a need for all of the objectives. However, the objectives all work together and the first two sets of objectives actually are vehicles to support the higher level objectives which are the real reason for taking any course.

Course Specific Objectives:

The specific objective of this course is to develop your understanding of how our sensory systems operate to gain information about the world around us. One of the difficulties with teaching Sensation and Perception is that we all intuitively know what we see, hear, etc. In addition, we have an implicit trust that what our senses tell us about is physical reality. This belief is held despite most people having extensive experience with illusions which illustrate the indirect and interpretive nature of the information our senses provide. You will have to leave many of these intuitions behind, because there are many surprises in how our sensory systems actually operate.

Role of Course in the Major:

In the psychology major, this course is one of the options for a basic or 200 level experimental psychology course.  Experimental psychology traditionally has referred to those areas of psychology that have emphasized the laboratory and experimental methods for its research.  Thus, areas such as sensation and perception, cognition, and learning have fallen under this general rubric.  Many fundamental findings that drive most of our speculation about the nature of the human mind are based on findings in these areas.

As a result of this placement of sensation and perception in the major, the course is designed to give you a fundamental introduction to experimental methods and ideas using this topic.  The other course at this level of the major is PSY162 Neuropsychology.  Together these courses are often grouped under the rubric of biological psychology and, thus, present how biological knowledge and approaches have been used to facilitate understanding in psychology.  So while there are many non-biological approaches to sensation and perception and they will be covered, there is a need to make sure you understand the basics of the nervous system and how this basic understanding yields important insights for psychology.

This course also needs to provide a foundation of basic experimental methods as used in the laboratory areas of psychology.  In the advanced experimental course in psychology you will be expected to design your own experimental project in the area of that course and to execute that project.  So, the laboratory section is designed to help you get experience with the various components of how experiments are conducted in experimental psychology so that you will be prepared to conduct your project in the advanced course. 

Role of Course in the Core Curriculum (CCR: SL):  Many of you are taking this course to fulfill one of the science requirements, as a CCR. Here are few of my goals, taken from the goals for the CCRs. The central aims of the SL CCR are to:

  • expose students to the nature and limits of scientific knowledge and mathematical and/or algorithmic reasoning,
  • expose students to the language, theory, and practice of disciplines within the scientific, mathematical and/or algorithmic realms, and
  • expose students to scientific methodology and the connections between scientific theory and physical phenomena.

Objectives Connected to the Liberal Arts:

This course connects to the liberal arts in several ways.  Science is a traditional and fundamental area of study in the liberal arts.  Science is different from many of the other areas of knowledge by its apparent ability to build a body of knowledge that is to some degree cumulative and some knowledge can gain a very wide degree of acceptance by practitioners of that field.  It is these characteristics that has led to the claim, made by some, that scientific knowledge is more objective that other disciplines.  But, science is not a fixed set of facts to be learned, but a constantly changing and evolving body of knowledge like any other scholarly field you find taught at Hanover College.  To understand science, in fact to understand any discipline taught here at Hanover, requires one to understand how the field learns and expands its horizon and critiques its past knowledge.  Thus, this class will emphasize the data and reasoning that leads researchers in sensation and perception to certain conclusions and in the class we will be asked to critique these data and the consequent reasoning.  In addition, one feature of the liberal arts is that it prepares people "to lead deliberate, examined lives." (Catalog, p. 8) However, one facet of our lives that often goes little examined is how it is possible that we can sense and perceive the world around us and how these mechanisms that make sensation and perception affect our lives.  By making you aware of these mechanisms a more aware life is possible.

Course Organization/Expectations

Read material and use media before coming to class.  In class, we will not simply present the material from the text but examine the material. Class is for working on understanding, applications, covering of new material.  Thus, familiarity with the material prior to class is vital.

Laboratory: The labs will be a chance to delve into some of the methods of the field.  Sensation and perception has developed a set of methods that are unique, even within psychology.  These methods have demonstrated their usefulness by being the basis for many applications you run into on a daily basis.

Attend Class.

No Electronic Devices in Class: That means no phones, no handheld devices, no laptops, no tablets, etc. are to be used at all during class.

Turn assignments in on time.  A letter grade is lost for each late day and nothing will be accepted more than three days late.  Late is defined as one minute after the start time of class.

Participation in Class.  As much of this class will be an investigation into the meaning of the findings we discuss we need all of you to ask questions, suggest ideas and critique other people's ideas, including mine.

Seek help as you need it.  Unfortunately my training in  psychology has not made me a mind reader.  If you are having troubles seek help from me and/or fellow students before the latter part of the term.  Seek the help as soon as the trouble begins.  That requires you thinking about the material and not just memorizing so that you know if you really understand it.


Week Topic Reading and Web Pages
Background: Philosophical/Biological

Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 1; Krantz ESP Appendix
Review Structure of Neuron
Review Action Potential

Class 1..Class 2..Class 3..Anatomy ppt

Visual System: The Eye Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 3
Scans of the Eye
Retina ppt.. Transduction ppt.. Central Visual System ppt

Visual System: The Brain

Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 4
Object Perception
Test # 1 Friday, January 31

Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 5
Effects of Receptor (Sampling) Density

Receptive Field as Edge Detector

Color Perception Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 6
Depth and Size

Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 7
Vision and Art Tutorial
Movement and Action Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 8

Winter Break  
Visual Attention or Constancy and Illusions Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 9 or Krantz Chapter 9
Parts of Vision and Art Tutorial
The Auditory System
Test #2 Friday, Mar 13 CHANGED TO MONDAY MAR 16
Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 10
Fourier Analysis Tutorial
Below is the revised Schedule of classes
Reintroduction to Course/Review and Finish Basics of Audition/The Auditory Brain & Sound Localization Schwartz & Krantz Chapters 10 & 11
Finish the Auditory Brain & Sound Localization/Speech Perception (We will be dropping Music Perception for Time)

Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 11 & 12
Touch & Pain Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 14
Olfaction & Taste Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 15

 Apr 27-May 1 Final Examination (During Final Examination Period)


Laboratory Schedule:

In all types of inquiry, the knowledge gained is fundamentally dependent upon the methods used to gain that knowledge. Therefore, the laboratory portion of this course is set up to allow you to both experience some fundamental phenomena and also to gain experience in how scientific questions are asked, answers sought and discoveries communicated. Below is the schedule of laboratories that are part of the course.

Lab Laboratory Topic Assignment Type
1 Psychophysical Methods I: Thresholds and Computation of Threshold and Linear Interpolation Read: Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 2
Problems (25 pts)

Psychophysical Methods II:
Signal Detection Theory and Magnitude Estimation
and Graphing ROC curves with Excel (as PDF)

Read: Schwartz & Krantz Chapter 2
Problems and Graphs (25 pts)
PowerPoint outline showing how to do the ROC graph.  As PowerPoint; As PDF.


Psychophysical Methods III: Psychophysical Laws
Logarithms Spreadsheet

Data Graphs with Interpretation (A mini results section) (25 pts)


Acuity and Retinal Location I : Experiment


Acuity and Retinal Location II: Analyzing Data relative to your hypothesis

Data Graph


About Lab Reports

Here are documents by Dr. Darrin Rubino on how to add error bars to Graphs
Spreadsheet for creating 95% confidence intervals to use for error bars
Web page showing how I set up an excel sheet do do these graphs

Method Section, Results, Summary (50 pts)
Laboratory Format

Size Constancy I: Making Quantitative Predictions

8 Size Constancy II: Quantitative Predictions & Monocular Cues

Spreadsheet to help generate predicted sizes.


Size Constancy III: Full Report

Full Lab Report (100 pts)
  Labs to be conducted online  

Frequency Discrimination I



Frequency Discrimination II

Full Lab Report (100 pts)



Assignments and Examinations:


Throughout the term there will be homework problems assigned.  They will be due the next class day.  Problems will come from the problems at the end of the text chapters and from others I will hand out in class.  Often they will require the use of the text media.  Problems of this sort will also be on the exams.  Homework will be collected and graded and will total to 100 points.


There will be three tests. The tests will be a combination format of short answer items (such as identification) and longer essays. All examinations will be of a similar format. Also, all examinations will be cumulative because all later material builds on or relates to earlier material. Since each successive examination covers more material, each successive examination will be worth more according to the following table.

Exam #1 100 points
Exam #2 150 points
Exam #3 200 points

Laboratory Assignments.

There will be several types of laboratory assignments including problems, data analysis, graphing of results, and laboratory reports. These assignments are listed above in the schedule of the laboratories and will be described more in the labs where they are involved.  However, the labs have a cumulative set of purposes.  These purposes are two-fold: to develop skills at experimentation using the methods of sensation and perception and to develop skills at critically analyzing the results of these experiments.  Thus, assignments such as graphing may seem purely as a skill, but even here, how one graphs can greatly impact the way we interpret data.  Thus, understanding the impact of how a graph is constructed on interpretation can assist in a critical understanding of data.

The different types of assignments will be worth different point values depending on the size of the assignment.  The points are listed in the syllabus above in the laboratory scheduleThe information for the format and guidelines for the laboratory format are here. For the final lab, Critical Bands, you will be asked to do a short in class group presentation relating to the results you have found. We will discuss the presentation and its expectations when we get to the lab.

Important Links

Research Participation

One of the objectives of the science CCR is to show you different ways that science is conducted.  However, this class can only introduce a small number of methods.  So this assignment is to give you experience with alternative methods, but from a psychological perspective.  You can earn this credit in two ways. First, you can participate in research or you can write a critique of an article. To complete this assignment for the class, you must do three of these activities (participate in a study or write a journal critique).  By participating in these studies, you can gain valuable, first-hand knowledge about how research is conducted. By critiquing journal articles, you will gain insight in to how researchers do and present their findings. You will receive up to 100 points this assignment.

If you chose to participate in a study, there are three ways that you can participate.  As you read below, not that the different ways of participating give you different levels of credit towards the assignment.

  1. Participant in-person in the study conducted by a Hanover College Psychology Faculty Member or Student whose research is being conducted as part of a psychology class. (Each study counts as one study)
  2. Participate in an on-line study conducted by a Hanover College Psychology Faculty Member or Student whose research is being conducted as part of a psychology class. (Each study counts as 3/4 of a study)
  3. Participate in an on-line study conducted by a student or faculty an another institution but listed on this site: Psychological Research on the Net. (Each study counts as 1/2 of a study)

To receive credit for participating in an in-person study, you MUST: a) obtain the signature of the researcher, and b) answer some basic questions about the nature and purpose of the study [see linked Research Participation Form]. To received credit for participating in an online study, either Hanover or Not Hanover, you MUST: a) print out the debriefing form of the study, and b) fill out and answer the questions related on the online participation form [see attached Online Participation Form].  To receive credit for writing a journal critique, write a 2-page summary and critique of an approved psychological journal article [The guidelines are here].

Extra Credit

You may earn extra credit by completing two more of these assignments for up to 20 points each (the relative weight of the research participation holds for the extra credit as well). The Research Participation Forms and/or Article Critiques will be collected the Friday before the beginning of dead week.

Relevant Links

Grading and Class Policies:

Class Participation:

Participation in and regular attendance of classroom activities and discussions will be worth 100 points. I expect each student to participate fully in discussions in class and laboratories. These discussions are integral to getting the greatest possible benefit from this class in addition to being a part of the development of your speaking abilities.

Late Policy:

An assignment is late one minute after the beginning of class. One letter grade will be subtracted for the first day late and another letter grade for each additional day, also beginning at the time of class plus one minute.  Nothing will be accepted more than three days late.


This class is graded on a point system which means that each assignment of the course is worth a certain amount of points towards the final grade. When you get an assignment back you will be given a grade with the points earned over the total number of points. Thus, you should be able to follow your progress in the course on your own.

The table below summarize the grading for each class assignment.

Activity Points
Test 1 100        
Test 2 150        
Test 3 200        
Homework 100        
Lab Assignments  
     Psychophysics 1 25        
     Psychophysics 2 25        
     Psychophysics 3 25        
     Acuity Lab 75        
     Size Constancy Lab 100        
     Frequency Discrimination Lab Presentation 100        
Research Participation 100        
Participation 100        
Total 1100        

Grades will be converted to percentiles and letter grades will be assigned as follows:

Grade Percent Range
A 100%-93.4%
A- 93.3%-90%
B+ 89.9%-86.7%
B 86.6%-83.4%
B- 83.3%-80%
C+ 79.9%-76.7%
C 76.6%-73.4%
C- 73.3%-70%
D+ 69.9%-66.7%
D 66.6%-60%
F < 60%



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