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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Undergraduate Course: Perception, Action , Cognition (PSYL10152)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines our perception of the external world in relation to our body, how this information is used to control purposeful action, where in the brain these processes take place, and how we subjectively experience them. We will cover theoretical approaches to perception and action, the use of vision and body senses to guide actions, basic concepts in action control, body representation as a feat of multisensory integration, the dynamic flexibility of body representation, and the experience of body ownership and agency. The evidence will be drawn from diverse techniques in cognitive neuroscience, including the neuropsychological study of brain-damaged people, experimental studies of healthy people, functional brain imaging and neuro-disruption, and single-cell neurophysiology in animals. The core course content is presented in lectures, with additional in-class discussions, and independent further study.
Course description The course begins by tracing relevant theoretical perspectives, from a contrast between constructivist and ecological approaches to perception, to contemporary notions of enactive perception and embodied cognition. It will be argued that constructivist and ecological approaches have to some extent been combined in a ┐dual streams┐ model of human vision, which emphasises that visual information is processed in different brain areas, in different ways, for different purposes. Evidence for this model will be considered, from neuropsychological symptoms arising from brain damage, functional brain imaging, and behavioural experiments requiring people to interact with visual illusions. We will then focus on the action side of this model, considering the requirements for effective action guidance, and sketching some basic control principles. Feed-forward and feedback control will be discussed, as a prelude to the concepts of inverse and forward modelling. We will then consider in more detail how we represent our bodies and the external world in relation to one another, in order to make purposeful action possible. We will draw distinctions between space occupied by the body, immediately around the body, within reaching distance, and beyond. We will refine our discussion of body representation with the concept of a body schema, and consider how the body schema relates to our feeling of ownership of our bodies. Finally, we will return to the idea of forward modelling, and consider whether this control principle can help explain how it is that we feel that like active agents in the world, rather than passive spectators on our own actions. Throughout the course, students will gain practice in interpreting primary literature, and the assessment will focus on core skills of summarising empirical work, and evaluating experimental results with respect to larger theoretical frameworks.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Psychology 2A (PSYL08011) AND Psychology 2B (PSYL08012)
It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Research Methods and Statistics 2 (PSYL10126)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  99
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Mid-term discursive short essay, 1000 words (30%)
Final discursive essay, 3000 words (70%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students should have a knowledgeable appreciation of the relevance of motor control to studying perception and cognition.
  2. Students should be able to give an evidence-based account of the dual-streams model of human vision.
  3. Students should understand how sensory and non-sensory information is used to represent the body in relation to external space.
  4. Students should be able to give an evidence-based discussion of how we feel ownership of our bodies, and authorship of our actions.
  5. Students should be adept at summarising empirical literature, with appropriate methodological detail and key results, and critically evaluating how well the conclusions follow from the data.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Robert McIntosh
Tel: (0131 6)50 3444
Course secretaryMs Alexandra MacAndrew
Tel: (0131 6)51 3733
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