Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Needs a warning - A number of the lectures have visual effects that can be dangerous to people with certain medical conditions - and there is NO WARNING about them. Also this series could have been done in half the time, presenter repeats him so much.
Date published: 2020-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Stuff - I Enjoyed It I have had this course for about 1 ½ years without watching it, and this was my loss. The course is very informative and very well presented. The first several lectures focus on the physiology of the five senses which is amazing. From here, Professor Vishton goes into the brain and how it organizes the inputs from the senses – good presentations and discussions. Professor Vishton is an excellent presenter who is relaxed and well spoken. He gets to the core of his subjects and makes them understandable. My one criticism is that he sometimes goes at a fast pace that left me behind – however the guidebook was a great help. Some of the lectures are a little boring, but overall the course is very educational, entertaining, and worthwhile. He covers numerous interesting topics that include: - optical illusions - how the inner ear works to maintain balance - the in-born reflexes of babies - extra-sensory perception - how we recognize images as a whole such as faces and chessboard layouts - cochlea implants and artificial vision - the effect of emotions on perceptions - how skydivers and distance runners experience negative emotions such as terror or exhaustion which is balanced by euphoria The above are just a few of the many interesting subjects that are covered.
Date published: 2020-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Course for everyone! I purchased this course with no particular expectations, since it is not an area I am involved with. Surprising, I loved it and have recommended it to my friends since the instruction provides so much useful information for everyone.
Date published: 2019-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome course Awesome Instructor Fascinating subject. Great presentation. A course that I will watch multiple times.
Date published: 2018-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from what the body perceives/what the mind interprets This was a thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable course. A great working subtitle might be "what the body perceives and what the mind interprets". The material was well organized and presented. The instructor included many visuals and examples to illustrate his points.
Date published: 2018-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Helpful for my own talk. I was preparing to give a lecture on the relation between sense organs, spiritual practice, and the Hindu concept of Maya. I got this course to help me prepare. I found it very enjoyable and informative. The professor was very easy to listen to and understand.
Date published: 2018-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Now I know! This lecture series was amazing and very well done. I am so happy I can go back and watch it because there were so many insights into how we hear, see, feel and know things. Each lecture was mind blowing and gave me a greater understanding of how we see the world. I'm a filmmaker and found the lectures on visual perception incredibly helpful. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2018-01-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too pedantic Wonderful topic and excellent material, but difficult to wade through all the information in the manner presented.
Date published: 2016-11-22
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Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception
Course Trailer
Your Amazing, Intelligent Senses
1: Your Amazing, Intelligent Senses

Embark on a fascinating journey into the secret life of your senses. In this introductory lecture, Professor Vishton uses a series of demonstrations to prove that perception is, in fact, amazing; shows you how your sensory systems inherently rely on making "educated guesses"; and lays the roadmap for the lectures ahead....

32 min
The Physiological Hardware of Your Senses
2: The Physiological Hardware of Your Senses

Get a working knowledge of sensory physiology that will prove important for the lectures ahead. Learn how neurons function, how your senses translate energy into electrical signals, how your brain organizes this energy, and how you can mentally represent the infinite range of things out in the world....

30 min
Neuroimaging-The Sensory Brain at Work
3: Neuroimaging-The Sensory Brain at Work

Learn how brain researchers figured out how the functions of sensation and perception map onto particular brain regions. Focusing on what happens when you recognize a face, see how brain-injured patients, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and scientific studies have brought us closer than ever to understanding this complex subject....

31 min
Brain Modules-Subcomponents of the Senses
4: Brain Modules-Subcomponents of the Senses

There is evidence out there to support the idea that your senses arise from many separate, independent "modules." Here, Professor Vishton discusses the evidence for this organization and demonstrates how your mind puts these modules together to create the rich, combined sensory experience you live with every day....

30 min
Perceiving a World in Motion
5: Perceiving a World in Motion

Explore three key aspects of how you sense motion. First, learn why motion information is important for perceiving the location, shape, and identity of objects around you. Then, examine how your brain perceives and infers motion. Finally, discover how you interpret the complex patterns of motion delivered to your retinas....

31 min
Seeing Distance and Depth
6: Seeing Distance and Depth

Probe a classic mystery of sensory processing: depth perception. When is depth perception not accurate? How do cues such as convergence and motion parallax support your perception of size and depth? And how do you put these sources of information together to produce a single, accurate picture of what's around you?...

32 min
Seeing Color and Light
7: Seeing Color and Light

Turn now to the ways that you perceive color. After a quick discussion of the physics of light and color, Professor Vishton explains the trichromatic theory of color perception (how color is processed in your retinas) and the opponent process theory of color perception (how color is interpreted in your visual cortex)....

33 min
Your World of Taste and Olfaction
8: Your World of Taste and Olfaction

In the first of six lectures on your nonvisual senses, focus on taste and smell. You'll learn where your unique flavor preferences come from, how smells are processed in your brain, why aromas can recall particular memories and emotions, how taste interacts with smell and vision, and much more....

28 min
Hearing the World around You
9: Hearing the World around You

What are the physics of sound? How does your auditory system transform sound into patterns of neural activity? How does sound localization-the process through which you can infer the location of different sound sources-work? Uncover the answers to these and many other questions about your sense of hearing....

30 min
Speech and Language Perception
10: Speech and Language Perception

In this fascinating lecture, discover how you produce and perceive language. Explore how you communicate ideas using basic sounds; how you determine where one word ends and another begins; how things you think are being perceived by your ears are actually sensed by your eyes, and more....

32 min
Touch-Temperature, Vibration, and Pressure
11: Touch-Temperature, Vibration, and Pressure

Broaden your understanding of just how detailed and intricate is your sense of touch. You'll spend time considering the different reception systems embedded in your skin; the ways you use touch to control your actions and to explore your surroundings; and how this particular sense grounds your other senses....

34 min
Pain-How It Works for You
12: Pain-How It Works for You

Pain is more than just a nuisance-it's extremely important to your well-being. Get an overview of the systems of pain perception; the ways your brain processes pain formation; how seeing pain in others can quite literally cause you to feel pain yourself; and what happens when the pain system breaks down....

28 min
Perception in Action
13: Perception in Action

Recent scientific studies have shown that your actions can actually control your perceptions. Here, Professor Vishton guides you through our latest understanding of the interplay between action and perception. By looking at how perception and action go together, you'll have a much more accurate grasp of the entire human sensory process....

31 min
Attention and Perception
14: Attention and Perception

Examine how attention works in the human visual system. You'll learn how attention functions, how it enables you to locate mental resources effectively, how it works as a "spotlight" highlighting aspects of visual input, and how it serves as "perceptual glue" pulling together aspects of a stimulus into perceptual objects....

29 min
Kinesthetic Perception
15: Kinesthetic Perception

One human sense often left off the standard list of five: kinesthetic perception, or how you perceive and move your body. Consider aspects of kinesthetic perception, including your vestibular sense (how you perceive the position of your whole body) and proprioception (how you perceive the position of individual body parts)....

28 min
Seeing, Remembering, Inferring Infants
16: Seeing, Remembering, Inferring Infants

Get a better understanding of adult perception by exploring the intriguing process of perceptual development from birth to the first few years of life. How do infants see? Control their eye moments? Use their sensory input to make inferences about things they can't directly see? Learn all this and more here....

29 min
How Infants Sense and Act On Their World
17: How Infants Sense and Act On Their World

Continue building on ideas about how infant perception works and develops. In this lecture, you'll focus on how an infant's nonvisual senses develop; how an infant connects sensory abilities to actions such as crawling, reaching, and grasping; and how these action abilities influence an infant's sensory and perceptual abilities....

31 min
Illusions and Magic
18: Illusions and Magic

Enter the world of illusions and see how, in addition to being entertaining, they can reinforce and further develop your grasp of human sensation and perception. Professor Vishton guides you through some of his favorite visual illusions, including the Kanizsa triangle, the "Café wall," and the "paper dragon" illusions....

30 min
Perceiving Emotion in Others and Ourselves
19: Perceiving Emotion in Others and Ourselves

Consider perception and emotion from a variety of perspectives. How does emotion ramp up your sensory sensitivity to fear, or reduce it for disgust? How can various emotional states change your perception of time and space? How can you use vision and hearing to pick up information about someone's future health and well-being?...

33 min
Sensing the Thoughts of Others-ESP
20: Sensing the Thoughts of Others-ESP

Reading minds. Detecting lies. Predicting the future. Debunk these and other "paranormal phenomena" by exploring how we infer others' thoughts and actions through standard perception. Then, consider the possibility that ESP, telepathy, and clairvoyance can exist by learning about an ambitious-and controversial-research project from the 1980s....

34 min
Opponent Process for Perception and Life
21: Opponent Process for Perception and Life

Make sense of opponent process, one of the most fundamental organizational principles by which your brain is organized. Consider how opponent process is implemented at the level of individual neurons, how it maintains your internal state of well-being, how it explains why people engage in extreme behavior, and more....

31 min
Synesthesia-Tasting Color and Seeing Sound
22: Synesthesia-Tasting Color and Seeing Sound

Focus on the strange and interesting phenomenon of synesthesia, which draws seemingly bizarre connections between different sensory inputs (such as associating a letter with a specific color or an image with an unrelated taste). Studying this subject, you'll find, reveals some interesting facts about normal perception as well....

29 min
How Your Sensory Systems Learn
23: How Your Sensory Systems Learn

How do wine experts correctly identify wine after a single sip? How do chessmasters re-create pieces of a game on a chessboard? The answer is the subject of this lecture: perceptual learning, or the ways your sensory systems change after repeated exposure to stimulus....

30 min
Fixing, Replacing, and Enhancing the Senses
24: Fixing, Replacing, and Enhancing the Senses

Cochlear implants, artificial retina projects, tactile television-just three of the fascinating topics you'll learn about in this final lecture on fixing and replacing damaged sensory systems. The successes and failures of these and other technologies have taught us even more about how the senses work....

34 min
Peter M. Vishton

The human mind remains one of the most mysterious and fascinating frontiers of modern science. Exploring that frontier yields useful knowledge as well as insights about ourselves.


Cornell University


The College of William & Mary

About Peter M. Vishton

Dr. Peter M. Vishton is Associate Professor of Psychology at The College of William & Mary. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Cornell University. Before joining the faculty of William & Mary, he taught at Northwestern University and served as the program director for developmental and learning sciences at the National Science Foundation. A consulting editor for the journal Child Development, Professor Vishton has published articles in many of the top journals in the field of psychology. Among these are Psychological Science, Science, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology. He is also the creator of the DVD What Babies Can Do: An Activity-Based Guide to Infant Development. In addition to teaching, Professor Vishton devotes much of his career to researching the perception and action control of both infants and adults. His studies-funded by prestigious institutions, including the National Institute of Child Health and Development and the National Science Foundation-focus on cognitive, perceptual, and motor development; visually guided action; visual perception; computational vision and motor control; and human-computer interface. Professor Vishton has presented his findings at numerous conferences and invited talks throughout the United States and Europe.

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