Undergraduate Course: Perception, Action, Cognition (PSYL10152)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course concerns how we perceive the world in order to act in it, how the processes of perception and action relate to each other, and how they are organised within the human brain. We will cover theoretical approaches to perception and action, the use of vision and body senses to guide action, body representation as a feat of multisensory integration, the dynamic flexibility of body representation, and the experience of body ownership and agency. We will finish by reconceptualising some of the main course themes within the contemporary theoretical framework of predictive processing. 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 animal neurophysiology. Students will gain practice in interpreting primary literature, and the assessment will focus on core skills of synthesising empirical evidence, and evaluating it with respect to larger theoretical frameworks.
The course begins by giving an overview of relevant theoretical perspectives, from constructivist and ecological approaches to perception, to 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. We will then consider 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 this relates to our feeling of ownership of our bodies. We will then focus on some key requirements for effective action guidance, highlighting the importance of feedback-based control, and forward modelling. We will consider whether these control principles might help explain how it is that we feel that like active agents in the world, rather than passive spectators on our own actions. Finally, we will see how the concept of forward modelling is now being applied within contemporary predictive processing approaches to perception, action and cognition.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting students should be studying Psychology as their degree major, and have completed at least 3 Psychology courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. **Please note that upper level Psychology courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 24,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Mid-term discursive short essay, 1000 words (30%)
Final discursive essay, 2000 words (70%)
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Be able to give a clear summary of major theoretical approaches to perception and action.
- Be able to give an evidence-based critique of the dual-streams model of human vision.
- Be able to describe how sensory and non-sensory information is used to represent the body in relation to external space.
- Be able to give an evidence-based discussion of how we feel ownership of our bodies, and authorship of our actions.
- Be adept at summarising empirical literature, with appropriate methodological detail and key results, and critically evaluating how well the conclusions follow from the data.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Robert McIntosh
Tel: (0131 6)50 3444
|Course secretary||Miss Georgiana Gherasim
Tel: (0131 6)50 3440